An advocate for euthanasia has revealed a pod-like machine for assisted dying at a "funeral fair" in Amsterdam last week.
The 3D printed machine is called the "Sarco" and was developed by Philip Nitschke, an Australian doctor who says that it will end life in a painless and efficient way.
The human-sized pod rests on a stand and contains a canister of nitrogen – which is released when a button is pushed.
"The person who wants to die presses the button and the capsule is filled with nitrogen. He or she will feel a bit dizzy but will then rapidly lose consciousness and die," Nitschke told Agence France-Presse.
Nitschke says he is an activist for "voluntary euthanasia and rational suicide."
He says the right to die is a human right.
"I believe [choosing when to die is] a fundamental human right. It’s not just some medical privilege for the very sick. If you’ve got the precious gift of life, you should be able to give that gift away at the time of your choosing," he told AFP.
The pod of the Sarco also doubles up as a biodegradable coffin.
The machine also includes a "panic button", in case the person inside changes their mind at the last minute, according to Nitschke.
"There is an emergency window that opens right away when you click against it, which allows for oxygen to flow into the machine at once," he said.
His non-for-profit organisation, Exit International , will make the plans available for free on the internet, which means that anyone with the funds to access a 3D printer will be able to reproduce the machine.
However, Nitschke expects that legal euthanasia clinics, such as those in Switzerland, will be the first to take advantage of the new technology.
Unsurprisingly, Nitschke’s proposal has sparked outrage among pro-life groups, who claim his machine could lead to a huge rise in suicides.
"I think it’s bad medicine, ethics, and bad public policy," Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, a Georgetown professor of biomedical ethics, told Newsweek .
"It converts killing into a form of healing and doesn’t acknowledge that we can now do more for symptoms through palliative than ever before."
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