The Malta Independent 18 January 2019, Friday

Death at 104

Alfred Sant Monday, 14 May 2018, 07:56 Last update: about 8 months ago

The decision taken by Australian scientist David Goodall to end his life at age 104 makes for interesting reflections. We debate much about every individual’s right to life but much much less about the right to die.

His statements show that Goodall believed the individual does have the right to decide for himself how and up to when he should live. Given the age to which he himself had survived, it is somewhat hard to deny him such a right, though as of now few countries actually recognize it. Difficulties arise when an individual still is in the prime of life (or should be). Must others evaluate the positives and negatives of a “planned” suicide in the case of a hugely painful illness? of a deep depression? or indeed of any other rationale?


Then there is the point that no individual lives by him/herself. What influence do others have on the decision he/she takes? Both by way of leading him/her to it, as well as to help him/her carry it out.

While understanding and accepting Goodall’s decision, I’m not sure there can be just one reply to the problem he faced.



Still on the subject of human life: I cannot understand the objections of those who consider as out of this world the idea that embryos should be frozen and kept in that state. The issue is similar to that of divorce. If you disagree with it, keep away from it but do not prohibit the procedure for others.

Fundamentalist voices remain powerful in this country. But they could be making the same mistake as in the divorce controversy. The more they insist on how absolutely right they are, the more they lose ground among different strands of public opinion. They end up arousing a consciousness that their arguments do not add up – which leads to the adoption of conclusions that are contrary to theirs. Recently I met two couples who described how this is what happened in their case.

There exists medically a best practice regarding how embryo freezing should be conducted and managed. What needs to be done is to follow this practice and to ensure that it is updated all the time.

If one carries the arguments being deployed about the destruction of embryos to their final logical conclusion, they should lead to the outright imperative that medical remedies must  be found and applied to ensure that no miscarriages happen in all “natural” pregnancies 



If the US are going to impose sanctions on all those who do business with Iran, they will end up creating new upheavals in global economic management.

It is difficult for those powers which disagree with the Trump decision and will not back it, to then submit to the sanctions that the US will be applying to Iran. The EU is among them.

If American sanctions begin to affect European firms which are not bound by the US decision – even more so if they have already signed contracts with Iran – the whole matter could trigger significant complications in relations between the Western allies.

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