by Paul Russell:
It seems that it isn't enough to provide people with information on how to get an illegal euthanasia drug sent to people from overseas; now Philip Nitschke and Exit want to provide tests so that people will know that what came in the mail will 'do the job'.
News reports about Exit's meeting in Canberra, Australia seem to suggest that this is something new. I suppose there has to be a hook here; a reason for the article. The reality is that Nitschke has been doing this now for sometime. If there's a twist it is that the article talks about learning to test the drug at home whereas previously Nitschke had testing apparatus in the back of a small van.
That van was also a delivery vehicle for 'Max Dog' nitrogen cylinders - another of Nitschke's semi-do-it-yourself suicide methods. He's also been working in Switzerland on a new mechanised death-delivery system he calls 'The Destiny Machine' which was also 'demonstrated' at his comedy shows in Edinburgh and most recently in Melbourne.
Suicide is clearly big business! I have always thought it odd that the media paints Nitschke as a 'euthanasia activist' when, in reality, his business model is built on selling suicide or 'self-deliverance' while legal euthanasia would likely curtail his sales figures somewhat by getting doctors and pharmacy involved. But somehow, when there's a sick or disabled person involved, or even someone who expects to become sick or disabled, it is suddenly not about suicide.
Craig Wallace, convenor of Lives Worth Living re-established the suicide connection in the media yesterday:
"We shouldn't be testing Nembutal, we should be testing suicide prevention for people with a disability."
"We have many concerns about euthanasia, and that people with disability might be levered into taking their own lives because of a lack of disability support," he said pointing to the reality that our wolrd is far from perfect, intentions and motivations are not always honourable and we are a long way from valuing every person equally.
The report on this latest 'testing' initiative says that the program is modelled on drug testing at rave parties, music festivals and the like. Hardly an appropriate comparison given that the motivation for testing of hallucinogenic drugs is to save lives while Nitshcke's is to make sure you're dead.
Yet the media cannot help but swallow the line as he moves around Australia - this time with his European Exit counterpart, Tom Curran. Curran's wife, Marie Fleming passed away in Ireland in December 2013 from complications arising from Multiple Sclerosis. She campaigned long and hard - but ultimately unsuccessfully - through the Irish Courts to change the laws on assisting is suicide to protect Curran from prosecution should she chose to go to Dignitas in Switzerland to end her life.
Curran has since become one of the central figures in recent times pushing for euthanasia in Ireland. Like Nitschke, he has something of a conflict of interest inasmuch as he supports (and Curran has had a hand in designing) a limited regime (a bill) for the sake of the parliament but markets through Exit an 'anyone, anytime' type of philosophy that no legislature would ever pass into law.
This re-inforces the fact that, for many in the pro-euthanasia lobby, that very first piece of legislation that they want to see passed into law is, in reality, a beach head. Crafting the bill is more about finding a way to quiet the known criticisms so as to gain the all-important 'fifty percent plus one' majority. This becomes strikingly obvious in jurisdictions where repeated unsuccessful attempts begin to stack up like newspapers on garbage day. You can see the progression in thought from one bill to another with more backflips that Nadia Comaneci and empty assurances about 'robust safeguards' falling flat under scrutiny.
Curran recently spoke at a meeting in Tasmania where another euthanasia bill is expected to be introduced shortly. In February this year former Labor Leader and supporter of euthanasia, Lara Giddings MP, said that this new push "That of course (it) won't satisfy every person who supports voluntary euthanasia." So, one could hardly expect that the pro-euthanasia lobby groups will, thereafter, wind up their operations, pat each other on the back and move on. No, they will bide their time and look for later opportunities to expand that law using the same 'hard cases' strategy as before.
Ultimately, as we have seen in Belgium and, to a similar extent in The Netherlands, either by changes to the law or by changes to interpretation of the existing law, there will be an inexorable creep towards the Nitschke/Exit philosophical position that is based squarely upon personal autonomy and nothing else.
If anything in this article causes you distress, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.