Who has the right to die?

ON 11 December last year, 61-year-old Wendy Benton, a former schoolteacher from South Adelaide, was struggling to walk down the hallway.

“She had a walker, and her little chin was on her chest – something had happened and it meant she couldn’t hold her head up any more – and I thought, ‘This is not right’. Her head was almost level with her bony little shoulders,” says her sister, Janine, 55.

As had become her usual practice, Janine had eaten dinner with Wendy, a motor neurone disease sufferer, earlier that evening. Hours later Wendy was dead, having taken a lethal dose of Nembutal (pentobarbital). 

“I don’t know where she got it,” says Janine, 55.

Wendy was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in May last year. She first realised something was wrong when she couldn’t squeeze the trigger on the petrol pump.

Gradually more symptoms appeared: she began giggling