Euthanasia is back in the news, albeit in a fairly low key way. Last Sunday The Peaceful Pill Handbook, by longtime Darwin-based euthanasia campaigner Dr Phillip Nitschke and Dr Fiona Stewart, was banned by the Classification Review Board of the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification, after having initially been approved on restrictive terms. The reversal followed an appeal by our freedom-loving Federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock and Right to Life Australia.
In somewhat related news, following the death a few days ago of 71 year old Alzheimer’s sufferer Graeme Wylie at his home at Cammeray on Sydney’s lower north shore, Wylie’s de facto partner of 20 years and a 74 year old cancer-suffering friend (and Nitschke supporter) were today charged with his murder and refused bail in Manly court:
The court heard Mr Wylie had Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and an interest in euthanasia, and that Ms Jenning was a member of pro-euthanasia group, Exit International.
What on earth are police doing spying on couples in this situation, who just want to end their lives with dignity and at a time and place of their own choosing? Don’t they have enough real crimes with real victims to investigate? Somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of Australians favour legalised euthanasia in situations like this, yet a miniscule minority of cruel, hypocritical God-botherers still manage to hold our cowardly politicians in terrorem.
I had some reservations about the NT’s euthanasia law of the 1990s. It lacked sufficient safeguards to ensure truly voluntary and informed consent. But those were purely technical objections. There is simply no cogent argument against the principle of voluntary euthanasia. This article from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy effectively demolishes the standard arguments of the wowser brigade.
Phil Nitschke is a difficult and sometimes irritating individual, as is his strange bedfellow in euthanasia advocacy former NT Chief Minister Marshall Perron. Yet both are incredibly determined campaigners for a just and important cause. Nitschke is a national hero and will be seen as such in years to come. He should be the next Australian of the Year, though it isn’t likely that either Howard or his God-bothering doppelganger Kevin Rudd would ever permit Nitschke’s nomination.
No policeman or politician is going to force me to stay around if I ever contract Alzheimer’s and slowly turn into a vegetable. I’m going to make sure that I’m equipped to dispatch myself painlessly without needing any help from Jen that could put her freedom at risk. Some time in the next decade or so I’ll obtain a generous batch of Nembutal from a country where it can still be legally prescribed, and a copy of the Peaceful Pill Handbook from somewhere it’s also legally available (i.e. any civilised country), so I can make sure that I take an effective dose. But I shouldn’t be forced to such an expedient, nor should anyone else in such a position. It should be legal.