Vale Nick Tonti-Filippini

Australia lost a great man and a great advocate against the dangers of legalised euthanasia. Professor Nick Tonti-Filippini passed away surrounded by his family on the morning of the 7th of November in Melbourne. 

Nick's writings against legalising euthanasia were a regular feature in The Age newspaper and elsewhere over many years. His were and remain compelling arguments from someone who knew only too well the ravages of terminal illness.

As The Age reported, Nick was diagnosed with a terminal illness at the age of 20. He was 56 years of age when he died. Though I only met him a handful of times, his obvious struggles were accompanied by a bright and cheerful wit, a sharp mind that has plumbed the depth of medical ethics and an active interest in public affairs.

Others have written far more extensively about Nick's wonderful life and achievements. I want to share but one example that those of us in South Australia working to oppose euthanasia will remember long and fondly.

It was late in 2010, almost at the close of parliament for that year but a time when the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2010 was about to be debated to a conclusion in the state's upper house. Nick made headlines in the press in an intervention that was to prove as priceless as it was compelling. In a letter addressed to Premier Mike Rann and copied to every state politician, Nick set out his own situation, the ethical dilemmas of euthanasia and gave a critical analysis of the failings of the bill in question.

To offer but one quote (you can read the full text HERE):

I cannot speak for all people who suffer from illness and disability, but think I can speak more credibly about suffering, illness and disability than those people who advocate for euthanasia presenting an ideological view of suffering and disability. Facing illness and disability takes courage and we do not need those euthanasia advocates to tell us that we are so lacking dignity and have such a poor quality of life that our lives are not worth living.

History notes that the bill was defeated. Nick's fine words made a difference as did his very life. He epitomized dignity in adversity.

Our condolences to his family and to all those who have experienced the joy of his friendship, the warmth of his tutelage and the grace of his company.

He will be greatly missed.