Dr Philip Nitschke was in Dublin last week to run a workshop on assisted suicide. He felt it was worth his while because he reckoned about 20 people wanted to hear him.
He first came to public attention in Australia when, on 25th May 1995, a law was passed enacted in Australia's Northern Territory allowing assisted suicide, partly as a result of Nitschke's campaigning for it. The Federal Parliament overturned this law in March 1997 by a knife-edge vote in the Senate, with 38 against assisted suicide being legalized and 33 for. In the brief period the law was in force, however, Nitschke helped four people to kill themselves.
Nitschke's subsequent career makes for creepy reading. Before his promised return trip to Ireland, possibly later this year, it is important to take a closer look at the euthanasia debate and the arguments that helped turn the assisted suicide legislation in Australia on its head.
Humanist and founder and director of the pro-euthanasia group Exit, Nitschke's ghoulish death gadgets and projects are a death-bag, best used together with their death-inhaler device, a death-machine, a death-drug testing-kit, a death-tent, a death-pill – and even a death-ship to provide off-shore facilities!
What is inspiring about the overturning of Philip Nitschke's law in the Northern Territory, by the edge of the seat majority of 5 votes, is the role played in that Senate decision by a talk and a submission given by Luke Gormally of the British pro-life Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics. The Linacre Centre comments: "several Senators said they had been influenced to change their minds and oppose the legalisation of euthanasia by a talk given in 1995 by Luke Gormally at the John Plunkett Centre in Sydney, which the Centre subsequently published and distributed widely". He also made a Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee, which reported on the issue of legalisation prior to the Senate vote.
Gormally's talk, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Seven Reasons Why They Should Not Be Legalized, is a model of calm clear responsible reasoning based on human equality and justice. If reading the list of Nitschke's projects gives you the shivers, then you may want to take a few moments to follow Luke Gormally as he sets out step by step the case for respect for human life and for rejecting calls for euthanasia or assisted suicide. You can access Luke Gormally's talk here.