Bioethics News

Interview: Philip Nitschke on life in the Netherlands

Life on a Dutch houseboat   

Dr Philip Nitschke is probably the world’s best-known activist for assisted suicide. Yesterday he declared that the UK government should offer prisoners sentenced to life without parole the option of taking a lethal euthanasia drug like Nembutal. “To do less is cruel and inhumane,” he told the media.

Although he is an Australian, he and his wife recently relocated to the Netherlands where he continues with his work. BioEdge asked him why he moved house and what it means for the organisation he founded, Exit International.  


BioEdge: Why have you moved to the Netherlands? When did you decide?

Philip Nitschke: I moved to the Netherlands with my wife because we needed to publish the Peaceful Pill eHandbook in multiple languages. Being in the midst of the European Union was essential for that. The need to leave home also became increasingly evident because of the failure in Australia to see the question of end of life choice depicted in anything other than the “medical model” ie, as a medically mediated option for the dying, rather that the “rights” model that I see as the more ethically consistent approach.

Do you still call Australia home, or are you too angry with the law and the medical establishment to return?

Nitschke: Yes, Darwin will always be my home.

Life on a houseboat in a Dutch canal sounds rather picturesque — but a bit chillier than Darwin. Do you plan to settle down, learn the language, and so on?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.