Dr Phillip Nitschke’s pre-emptive move to set up a euthanasia clinic in Adelaide shows he has missed the purpose of the legislation before the Parliament.
The Criminal Law Consolidation (Medical Defences – End of Life Arrangements) Bill 2011 is purely aimed at giving a family doctor who has a long history with their patient the ability to use this legislation as a defence against a criminal charge should the medication given to their patient at the request of the patient result in the patient’s death.
The legislation does not legalise voluntary euthanasia. The legislation does not legalise assisted suicide.
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Exit International director, euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has begun scouting locations for Australia’s first ‘euthanasia clinic’. His Adelaide visit comes as the South Australian Parliament prepared to debate new laws decriminalising assisted suicie. The Punch asked Dr Nitschke about his euthanasia clinic plans.
Q) What would a euthanasia clinic offer?
A) A euthanasia clinic offers the provision of coordinated services for those wishing a peaceful death. Not only providing the necessary lethal barbiturates, but also required counseling for the patient and their family, and the chance to ensure that palliative options have been properly explored and any underlying psychiatric issues uncovered.
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Jim Carrey. Ricky Gervais. Adam Sandler. Steve Martin. All well-known funny men. Well, move over, guys. Philip Nitschke, the world’s best-known euthanasia activist, is considering a career change.
Life must have been pretty dreary for Nitschke lately. He has spent the last fortnight or so touring the British Isles in the dead of winter, touting his message of suicide on demand. It must be a bit demoralising to give a passionate lecture to a sea – a pond actually – of blue rinsed and bald heads in chilly local halls week after week.
But things are looking up. Dr Nitschke is contemplating a career as a stand-up comedian. No, this is not, repeat, not a joke. He told the newspaper Wales on Sunday, “There is a proposal to do some sort of stage stand-up comedy. It will be comedy associated with the issues of death and dying directed more at entertainment, that’s what we are looking at.”
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As Australia readies itself for a fresh debate about the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia, Dr Philip Nitschke is busy spreading his morbid gospel throughout Canada, where dozens of oldies are dying to attend his right-to-die seminars.
Most of them are not literally dying, no more so than the rest of us are in that daily incremental way. They’re a bit closer to their use-by-date, but they are generally hale and hearty. They have just decided that, when their time is almost at hand, they would like to go in a manner of their choosing and with dignity.
It’s a valid and widely-held human want. One pretty strong word of caution for these Canadian folks is that if it’s dignity they want, they should see another doctor.
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The term ‘good death’ seems to be an oxymoron.
But for those who’ve cared for a terminally ill loved one, the ancient Greek definition of the word ‘euthanasia’ is appropriate.
In the past month, the right to die debate has been given oxygen (pun intended) by three separate cases in Western Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales.
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Once again euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke is playing games with the law. Today he’s holding a meeting in Hobart to instruct listeners in the finer details of how to dispatch themselves quickly and painlessly.
Dr Nitschke has become an Olympian at skating on thin legal ice. For years he has been pirouetting around Australian police after friends of his received a few words of friendly advice and killed themselves. He was recently grilled by immigration officials in the UK before he was allowed to do a whistle-stop tour for geriatric crowds around the country. He’ll be touring the US in September.
Because he is not actually killing people, just instructing them on how they can kill themselves, he appears to be acting within the letter of the law.
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The yellow bumper sticker on his suitcase says “I’d rather die like a dog” and if anyone knows how dogs die it’s Dr Philip Nitschke, who slit one’s throat when he was a teenager.
It’s a story which Nitschke wishes would go away. But in the context of his latest snappy euthanasia slogan, plastered over his luggage as he was questioned in Heathrow this weekend, it’s one that is worth re-telling.
Nitschke has told it a few times in media profiles - reluctantly, because he is aware his critics regard it as a pointer to adult instability, rather than the isolated act of a homesick 15-year-old boarder sent to live in Adelaide with an abusive landlord whose barking dog was driving him mad.
“It got so grim there…you feel like killing the people involved and you know you can’t do that and you end up killing the dog,” Nitschke told Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope in 2007.
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