Ruth Wedd remembers it vividly; the moment her dying husband asked her to end his life.
Stephen Wedd was just days away from being admitted to Clare Holland House, the palliative care unit on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin's east basin.
Diagnosed with brain cancer about 18 months earlier, he could barely communicate and was becoming increasingly anxious.
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In a moment of frustration - and desperation - he made a heart-wrenching request to his wife of 20 years.
"He said, 'You can do it'," Mrs Wedd recalled this week.
"He couldn't elaborate, but I knew what he meant. He expected me to do something [end his life].
"I thought this is something that a family member should not be asked to do. It's that balance between knowing it is totally illegal and yet being able to satisfy one of the last wishes of someone that you love.
"There needs to be a system - families should never have to face that [choice]."
Mrs Wedd didn't follow through on her husband's request. As voluntary assisted dying remains prohibited in the ACT, there was no legal option to end his suffering through a medical intervention.
Stephen Wedd died on May 23, 2020, as Canberra was emerging from its coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Mrs Wedd postponed her husband's memorial, due to capacity restrictions which made it impossible to hold the large celebration she knew he would have wanted.
More than a year on, that memorial still hasn't been held.
Mrs Wedd has only praise for the care her husband received at Clare Holland House. But she laments, to this day, that Stephen was denied - by law - the "death he wanted".
"It was a month that just gained nothing. He was frustrated by that. He was physically not able to gain anything by that," she said.
Mrs Wedd shared her story as she threw her support behind The Canberra Times' Our Right to Decide campaign, which is calling on the federal parliament to repeal the laws which prevent the ACT from making its own euthanasia law.
With voluntary assisted dying either legalised or on the agenda in each Australian state, Mrs Wedd believes that Canberrans diagnosed with terminal illnesses might choose to move interstate.
"It crossed my mind at the time [of Stephen's death], and it crosses my mind still - 'Do we all have to leave our homes and go interstate to die'?
"I just think as a civil society, how can we think it is OK that someone starves to death, and more pertinently dehydrates to death and we don't think it's acceptable that they have some assistance to die in a calm and considered way."
Pointing to opinion polls which consistently show majority support for euthanasia across Australia, Mrs Wedd issued a clear message to the parliamentarians who opposed to the ACT's right to even have the debate.
"They need to put their own thoughts aside and represent their constituents," she said.
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- This story is part of Our Right To Decide campaign. The Canberra Times is advocating for the ACT to have the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying, like other states.
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