LIFE ISSUES: by Paul RussellNews Weekly
Dr Nitschke promises death facility for Adelaide
, November 23, 2013
Founder and director of the pro-euthanasia group Exit International, Dr Philip Nitschke, can’t seem to let a euthanasia debate go by without seizing the headlines.
As the South Australian parliament winds down for the year, and with only two possible days for debate of Independent MP Dr Bob Such’s Ending Life with Dignity Bill, Nitschke says that he intends to open a clinic in Adelaide.
On Thursday, November 28, SA’s parliament goes into recess and will be prorogued ahead of the March 2014 state election.
Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported on November 12: “A euthanasia clinic set up in Adelaide will test drugs, distribute nitrogen kits and ‘provide services’ to terminally ill patients.
“It is expected to start taking patients by the end of the week.”
The article added: “Dr Nitschke said Adelaide was chosen as the site for Australia’s first euthanasia clinic and research laboratory because legislation attempting to legalise voluntary euthanasia in South Australia was before Parliament.”
Nitschke explained that it was Dr Such’s latest euthanasia bill that prompted him to opening a euthanasia facility.
The Herald Sun reported: “Dr Nitschke said the Ending Life with Dignity Bill, proposed by Independent MP Bob Such, ‘could well pass through the SA parliament in the near future and the services offered by the euthanasia centre will become critical’.
“The clinic is expecting a couple of patients a week, including some who travel from interstate.”
Nitschke has made similar pledges at the business end of a number of debates recently in Hobart as well as in Adelaide. This time, however, he claims to have a property in the Adelaide suburb of Gilberton. According to media reports, he is preparing the distribution of nitrogen death kits.
This is an escalation in his morbid rhetoric.
Whether he goes ahead with the death facility is another matter entirely, and only time will tell if it comes to pass.
More interesting will be whether South Australian MPs recognise that if they pass any euthanasia or assisted suicide bill, the kind of operation proposed by Dr Nitschke would be a reality.
Only a few weeks ago, the Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine Society (ANZPMS) issued a public statement expressing its strong opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The position was adopted by ballot with a “decisive majority” of members of the trans-Tasman body supporting the statement.
The statement itself is nothing startling, in as much as it restates the World Medical Association’s position as well as the traditional medical wording of opposition to both euthanasia and assisted suicide that exists in other societies and medical bodies.
The statement, which was issued on October 31, says:
“The Palliative Medicine discipline does not include the practice of euthanasia or assisted suicide. ANZSPM activities are limited to the Palliative Medicine discipline.
“There is a clear distinction between good care for the dying and active interventions instituted in order to deliberately end the life of a patient.
“Good medical practice mandates that the ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence should be followed at all times.”
The ANZSPM statement also notes the grave problem in both Australia and New Zealand of the lack of equity of access to quality palliative care services.
It says: “ANZSPM acknowledges the significant deficits in the provision of palliative care in Australia and New Zealand, especially for patients with non-malignant life-limiting illnesses, those who live in rural and remote areas, residents of residential aged care facilities, the indigenous populations and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
“ANZSPM advocates for health reform programs in Australia and New Zealand to strengthen end-of-life care by remedying shortages in the palliative care workforce (including in the specialist medical, nursing and allied health fields), ensuring improved access to appropriate facilities and emphasising the role of advance care plans and directives.
“ANZSPM advocates for increased carer support for respite care to decrease the sense of burden for many patients at the end of life.”
Paul Russell is founder and director of the Australian network, HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide www.noeuthanasia.org.au, and vice-chairman of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) International. He blogs at http://blog.noeuthanasia.org.au