Pass euthanasia laws says former Supreme Court Judge

Former Supreme Court judge Betty King is urging Victorian politicians to pass euthanasia laws to stop the criminal prosecution of those who have assisted the death of terminally ill relatives.

"Should people be put before the criminal courts for acting out of love? It is my view that they should not," she told The Age.

"It is wrong that people suffering terminally are not given a choice. If you kept an animal in a state of permanent suffering you would be prosecuted and yet we charge those who try to end the suffering of others."

Justice King said every Supreme Court judge had heard at least one case where someone had been charged over assisting, or attempting to assist someone to die.

Hers was Heinz Klinkermann, who was charged with the 2011 attempted murder of his wife, Beryl, 84. "She was suffering from advanced Parkinson's and dementia and he had been caring for her," Justice King said.

"He promised her he would never allow her to be put into nursing care. He set up the lounge room like a little hospital but eventually he was told she would have to go into care.

"He drove the car to the house, put a plastic pipe from the exhaust into the house, gave her sleeping pills then took some himself, lay down beside her said goodbye and held her hands."

They lapsed into unconsciousness but the pipe melted and they were found the next morning.

She was taken into care and he was charged. An intervention order was taken out against him so that he could not see his wife again. In 2013 she gave him an 18-month community corrections order. "Cases like these don't belong in courts."

She said the lack of clear end-of-life laws meant that some were opting to suicide leaving relatives to deal with the trauma of unnecessarily violent deaths.

"It is the right of people to control their own futures."

Victoria's assisted dying legislation has passed the lower house. Debate is set to resume in the upper house on Tuesday with a conscience vote expected within weeks.

"I think politicians should understand that a conscience vote is not about their individual beliefs but about representing the views of their constituents," Justice King said.

This story Pass euthanasia laws says former Supreme Court Judge first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.