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‘Dr Death’ comes to Britain with a message of despair

No amount of reassuring chat can disguise his advice that we should keep deadly drugs in our sock drawer

By on Friday, 25 November 2011

Euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke has been touring Britain telling people how to plan their own death (Photo: PA)

Euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke has been touring Britain telling people how to plan their own death (Photo: PA)

Dr Philip Nitschke, aka “Dr Death”, has been in town. According to a report in the Independent on Tuesday the Australian euthanasia campaigner has been telling audiences in London, York and Scotland that “his aim [is] to save lives”. His argument runs that “once people have a means of killing themselves, many who might attempt a botched suicide would instead prolong their lives, knowing they had a way out without having to call on a loved one to help, exposing them to the risk of jail.”

Condemning China for selling banned and therefore illegal barbiturates over the internet in doses large enough to kill several adults, the doctor presents himself as the virtuous alternative: if you do it my way you won’t be breaking the law and you won’t have the extra anxiety of waiting too long to do it, thus causing problems for those who help you.

This is skewed; the message Nitschke propagates is one of despair, however reasonably he dresses it up. No amount of reassuring chat can disguise his advice that we should keep a deadly cocktail of drugs in the sock drawer for the time when we will want to call it a day. This is not just bad news for mentally ill people or those suffering from depression, who would have the constant temptation to end it all easily within reach; it is also a toxic contribution to the end-of-life debate which concerns everyone: have we got the right to take our own lives or not?

Christians answer a resounding “No” to this; others are not so sure. Some are swayed by stories in the newspapers about the neglect of the elderly, like June Capaldi, 75, cited by the Independent, who says: “I don’t want my kids and grandchildren seeing me hanging out of a chair in a retirement home with my mouth open and no teeth…” Others, such as Baroness Mary Warnock and Martin Amis, are members of the Establishment and heirs of the Enlightenment, who believe the elderly have a “duty” to die and very sick people the right.

When Dr Nitschke toured Britain in 2008 it was a failure as so many venues decided to cancel his talks; rather ominously, this time round there have been no cancellations.

Coincidentally, I was given a prayer card today about Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary. A quiet, unassuming civil servant from Dublin, his long life was a wonderful witness to the dynamism of a lived faith. The prayer card states that in 1916, aged 27, he published his first pamphlet, “Can we be Saints?”: “In it he expressed one of the strongest convictions of his life, namely that all without exception are called to be saints.” Saints are simply people who radiate the love of Christ in their lives. What does Dr Nitschke and his death league radiate?

  • theroadmaster

    Dr Nitschke is attempting to present a plausible “version” of the pernicious death-dealing trade that he is involved in, as opposed to “illegal” practices by certain countries.  Evil often sounds alarmingly rational and enticing when it is presented in a simplistic, dissembling way to hide the internal contradictions that it carries.   It is similar to the arguments used by pro-abortionists who argues that “legalized” abortions would be safer for mothers who have to resort to back-street abortions to circumnavigate the laws of certain countries.  Of course, little thought is spared for the ultimate victims of such atrocities, which are the growing babes in the womb.

  • Anonymous

    “the elderly have a “duty” to die”

    That is chilling, indeed virtually Nazi, and if Warnock really believes that she has no business being in the legislature of a civilised countr – if that is what this depraved hellhole still is.

  • Anthony

    As an Australian can I solemly ask you keep Dr Nietzche…sorry, Nitschke. Come on, help out a brother realm!

  • Maryam

    “Saints are simply people who radiate the love of Christ in their lives. What does Dr Nitschke and his death league radiate?”

    Yes. Truly, we will be known by our fruit and nothing else in the end.

  • Anonymous

    Who is this Warnock?  A control freak who is trying to dictate the course of people’s lives, even to the point of deciding when someone should die.  Ignore the silly old cow.

  • Anonymous

    “When Dr Nitschke toured Britain in 2008 it was a failure as so many
    venues decided to cancel his talks; rather ominously, this time round
    there have been no cancellations.”

    Not to worry.  I understand that his audiences have been numbered in their dozens, with more empty seats than attendees.  No mention of him in the media.
    By the look of him in that photograph, he too will be swallowing barbiturates before long.

  • Anonymous

    Suicide is being sold the British public in the same way that abortion was sold to them. Back in the sixties we heard tragic stories of mothers dying or rape victims suffering, and these hard cases were used to gain sympathy so that abortion was legalised, supposedly only for women whom two doctors could certify were in grave medical need. Of course once it was legalised it soon became in practice freely available on demand.

    Now the merchants of death are going around talking about a few extreme cases, but they know that, if ever it became legal to assist someone in a suicide, then inevitably suicide would eventually be available on demand for anyone over the age of 18. Logically there is no valid reason if you concede to people the so-called “right to die” to deny this “right” to anyone over the age of 18, and to allow businesses to operate that are willing to put people to death in return for a large fee.

  • Anonymous

    Look at the State of Oregon’s 94′ Death with Dignity act – it shows that despite all the scaremongering, laws CAN be created that do help people in greatest pain and suffering, whilst creating no danger to the wider public.

    The first to note is that take-up has been minimal (only 400 cases, in a state of 3 million, over 14 years)

    The patient must be free of any mental condition that could impair judgement (be sound in mind)

    The patient must jump through numerous hoops, verbal requests, written requests and multiple physicians etc.

    The doctor must never suggest assisted dying to the patient, it must be suggested by the patient.

    The patient must be terminally ill, and within 6 months of dying naturally.

    Take a look at the details, and tell me how if such a law was instituted in the UK, things would go so wrong, if this law has such a good basis and record where it has been in place for 17 years?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Death_with_Dignity_Act

  • http://twitter.com/tsavogadfly Marcella Carmen C.

    Thanks for the advert for Frank Duff!  As a Legionary, I know he wanted us all to learn how to radiate hope, even in our darkest moments.

  • http://twitter.com/tsavogadfly Marcella Carmen C.

    All serious evidence to date is showing that the safe-sounding “laws” put into place in Oregan are being contstantly ignored, and the same is happening in Holland (the first country to go down this road).  A close relation of mine was in agony 40 years ago and pleaded to put down.   Today this happy and productive person is extremely relieved that this incident happened 40 years ago, without any vultures of false compassion around the bed!! 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t agree with the law in Holland. Most assisted-dying proponents (such as myself), are equally as worried about mistakes and coercion.

    However although the Church appears to voice concerns about these problems, it is weak religious arguments – such as ‘god gives life, so he must take it away’ that are the TRUE issue here. I am a Catholic myself, but this makes no sense – following their logic God ‘takes life away’ through the most sick and twisted kind of ways – cancer, heart attacks and traffic accidents, etc.

    I don’t know about the case you mention obviously, but was it the case that your friend had a terminal illness, and was given less than 6 months to live?
    If not than the Oregon law would have protected her, even if your friend had explicitly requested to be helped to die.