Sunday, March 29, 2009

Australia's 'Dr Death' (Philip Nitschke) is selling euthanasia kits in the UK for £35

An article in the Gaurdian paper today (March 29) in the UK explains how Philip Nitscke, Australia's 'Dr Death' and the president of Exit International is selling euthanasia kits to his contacts in the UK for £35.

Link to the article in the Gaurdian:

The article states that:
Dr Philip Nitschke, an Australian physician known as Dr Death for his enthusiastic promotion of a person's right to take his own life, believes the UK is a suitable place to run a trial of the kits, which he has been developing in his laboratory. But Nitschke's actions have revived concerns that healthy elderly and vulnerable people will end up killing themselves in the belief that they have become a burden to their families.

Last autumn, Nitschke's organisation, Exit International, provoked uproar in the UK when it held workshops giving people advice on how they could end their lives. One workshop in Bournemouth was cancelled after the council stepped in. However, a similar event went ahead in central London and was reported to have been well attended.

But now Exit is provoking further controversy with its plans to sell the barbiturate-testing kits here. In the latest issue of its magazine Deliverance, Exit explains how it created a purpose-built laboratory to test "end-of-life options". The article continues: "Calibration of the chemicals involved is essential so that those using the test will be certain that the drugs they test will give them a peaceful and reliable death.

"The kit is scheduled for release in the UK in May and will be available internationally shortly after that."

Nitschke said he was launching the kit in response to growing demand. Exit's website carries links to a Mexico-based supplier of lethal barbiturates that are delivered in the post without labels. "These drugs don't come with labels, so people want to have confidence in what they are buying," Nitschke said. "They want to be sure they have the right concentration."

Nitschke plans to sell the kits, which have chemicals that change colour when mixed with lethal barbiturates, for about £35 when he holds his next series of British roadshows, starting in Eastbourne in May. He will also promote Exit's new online DIY suicide workshop.

"We decided to launch in the UK because of its enlightened attitude; many of the things we can do in the UK are banned in Australia," said Nitschke, whose guidebook, The Peaceful Pill Handbook, co-written with Dr Fiona Stewart, is banned in his native country.

What is interesting is that it appears that groups that oppose and groups that promote euthanasia are wanting to stop Nitschke from selling his kits in the UK. The article quotes Sarah Wootten from Dignity in Dying as saying:
"The answer is not DIY kits or books, but a fully safeguarded law that protects the vulnerable and gives terminally ill adults the choice of an assisted death," said Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for a change in the law on euthanasia. "Regrettably, without such a law, activism like this is likely to continue."

I may be wrong, but in my opinion Sarah Wootton from Dignity in Dying is opposing Nitschke because of his radical appearance rather than his intention of providing anyone and everyone suicide assistance.

Dignity in Dying in the UK and the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO) are members of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. ERGO works closely with Exit International as well as other groups such as the Final Exit Network, which is also a member of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.

I am convinced that the distance Dignity in Dying appears to be placing between themselves and Nitschke is more about strategy than an actual difference in ideology.

When I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference in Toronto (September 2006), Philip Nitschke was a speaker and a participant. I did not notice the delegates from Dying in Dignity or the other groups disagreeing or walking out of the room when Nitschke spoke about the "peaceful pill" or when he suggested that people should receive assisted suicide when they are "tired of living"

At the same conference, I didn't notice the delegates avoiding the display table where Nitschke was explaining how to properly use a turkey bag (Exit Bag) and Helium to assist the suicide of a client (victim).

The article then quoted Peter Saunders from the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK as saying:
"Nitschke is an extremist and self-publicist who has gained notoriety from conducting how-to-commit-suicide classes," said Peter Saunders, of the Care Not Killing Alliance. "His plan is pushing the outermost boundaries of the law and will exploit and endanger vulnerable British people." An invitation to Nitschke to participate in a debate on euthanasia at Oxford University has been withdrawn amid concerns about his activities.

Saunders is absolutely right about Nitscke, the fact is that similar claims can be made about Dying in Dignity and their goals.

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