In Euthanasia

On 22 December 2014 the Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal five member panel unanimously agreed to uphold the decision of the Immediate Action Committee of the Medical Board of Australia made on 23 July 2014 to suspend the registration of Philip Nitschke as a medical practitioner.

The suspension followed the failure of Philip Nitschke to take steps to prevent the suicide of 45 year old Nigel Brayly.

Nitschke opposed his suspension on two main grounds.

His primary argument was that suicide is in many cases a rational decision and that there ought to be no obligation on a medical practitioner to attempt to persuade or otherwise help a person proposing to commit suicide to put aside this plan. Indeed Nitschke believes that it is appropriate for him to use his medical knowledge to actively inform those contemplating suicide about effective methods to achieve it. Nitschke appears to think that only evident psychosis, such as a belief that Martians were landing, would justify interference in a suicide plan.

His secondary argument was that Mr Brayley was not his patient and so he owed him no duties as a medical practitioner.

The Tribunal rejected his arguments and found (paragraphs 77, 79) that:

The idea that it really is none of the medical profession’s business if competent people wish to kill themselves even while suffering elements of depression does not fit well with the responsibility to protect and promote the health of individuals and the community.

It makes the fit even less comfortable when it is a medical practitioner who has assisted with the provision of information sufficient to acquire, smuggle into Australia, test, hide and then consume the substance to take their own life.

Philip Nitschke is continuing his active promotion of and instruction in methods of suicide but he is no longer able to put himself forward as a registered medical practitioner.

The Coalition for the Defence of Human Life unsuccessfully opposed Philip Nitschke’s application to be registered as a medical practitioner in Western Australia in 1999 commenting that:

The Medical Board of Western Australia would do serious damage to the standing of medical practitioners in Western Australia if it goes ahead and gives a licence to Philip Nitschke who has made it clear that he only wants to run clinics in Western Australia for the sole purpose of helping people effectively end their lives. This is neither medicine nor compassionate care. Nitschke has now conceded that palliative care can effectively control pain and that demands for euthanasia are simply demands for control over ending one’s life whenever one chooses. The medical profession has no part to play in this ideology of suicide.

It is satisfying that the Medical Board has finally agreed, but tragic that it has taken a pile of corpses of Nitschke’s victims built up over the past sixteen years for them to do so.

Nitschke’s suicide cult is being further investigated by police. Let’s pray that they put a stop once and for all to the deeds of Mr Death.

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