'Dr Death' visit to spark debate
HE HAS been dubbed Dr Death, but Philip Nitschke says the message on voluntary euthanasia he will bring to Bundaberg next month is still very much alive.
Dr Nitschke will hold an End of Life Choice seminar in the Civic Centre on Tuesday, February 7, from 1-2pm followed by a workshop.
The Bundaberg visit is part of a nationwide tour Dr Nitschke is doing, with only two stops in Queensland.
In 1996, Dr Nitschke became the first physician in the world to administer a legal, lethal voluntary injection under the Rights of the Terminally III Act of the Northern Territory.
He said yesterday his aim was to give people the information they needed so they could peacefully end their own lives.
"You need to be able to do it yourself because anybody who helps you could face life in prison," he said.
"It's sensible to have things in place and ready for when you need them."
Dr Nitschke said on past experience, most of the people who would attend the seminar would be elderly, and the aim was to get them to stay on for the workshop, when he would go into the practicalities of voluntary euthanasia.
Dr Nitschke said while there was always a bit of nervousness when he held workshops, the police had never acted against him.
"The way the laws are structured, to advise and assist people to commit suicide is a crime," he said.
"I make it clear I'm not advising them to commit suicide, what I'm doing is giving people information."
He said any idea he was pushing people to commit suicide was wrong.
"The whole message is putting people in control of their own lives," he said.
"Many of these people say to me they want to know they have got things in place for when they have to make a decision."
Dr Nitschke said his organisation, Exit International, had "a lot of members" in Bundaberg and meetings in the city were expected to attract about 100 people.
But Dr Nitschke is likely to face some opposition to his message in Bundaberg.
Heritage Christian Centre Pastor Errol Buckle said voluntary euthanasia was a challenging issue.
He said in countries where it was allowed, people were being killed against their will.
"You have to ask where is it going," he said.
Pastor Buckle said he understood the trauma people suffered when they saw a loved one going through pain.
"Would it not be better to provide palliative care and support?" he said.
"The medical profession is there to save life, not to kill."
Bundaberg Cherish Life president Barry Kirby said he was not against Dr Nitschke coming to Bundaberg, but he believed people should be given both sides of the story.
"He relies on people's emotions when they are in pain," he said.
"I would say people who go to listen to him get only his view, and it's not a moral or fully balanced view."