Bioethics News

Nitschke ramps up campaign for unrestricted suicide

Philip Nitschke is one of the world’s most famous Australians, although he has recently moved to the Netherlands. He helps people to kill themselves, mostly by directing them to lethal drugs or supplying them with bottled gas. He has also written a book on DIY suicide, the Peaceful Pill Handbook, which is available over the internet.

In his view, legal euthanasia is passé, with its rules for who is eligible and who is not, with its paperwork, and with its prissy restrictions on who can administer the injections. That is a medical model of suicide, he argues. His life’s work is achieving unrestricted access to the means for painless, quick suicide. Suicide, in his view, is not a benefit to be granted by the state, but a fundamental human right for people who are in pain or who simply are tired of life.

This week he announced that the organisation which he heads, Exit International, was forming a subsidiary, Exit Action, which will take “a militant pro-euthanasia position”. He said that many members of Exit International were angry after the defeat of assisted suicide in South Australia last month and wanted to be more active in promoting the right to die.

“Exit Action is critical of the ‘medical model’ that sees voluntary euthanasia as a privilege given to the very sick by the medical profession. The standard approach for years has been to get the very sick to tell their stories of suffering to the public and politicians, in the hope that politicians might take pity and change the law.

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.