Australia's "Dr. Death" Faces Legal Problems In Two
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 31, 2006
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA--Activities at pro-euthanasia campaigner Dr. Philip Nitschke's headquarters have slowed down tremendously since an Australian law made it a crime to use the Internet to promote suicide, the Sunday Age reported.
The law, which went into effect on January 6, prohibits the use of telephones, websites, text messaging and chat rooms to "counsel or incite suicide" or promote or provide instructions on methods of suicide.
But Nitschke, who has been nicknamed Australia's "Dr. Death", is facing other trouble in Australia, not to mention New Zealand, where he had planned to move his Exit International operations.
Homicide detectives in Melbourne have confirmed that they are investigating the July 27, 2005 death of Steve Guest. Nitschke and Rodney Syme, the president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Victoria, had said they visited Guest, who had cancer, and advised him on how he could kill himself. Pro-euthanasia activists had said they were using Guest's death to call for new debate on whether advising on suicide was the same as aiding or abetting, which is illegal.
In the meantime, the Medical Council of New Zealand has scheduled a meeting in two weeks to decide if Nitschke broke its country's laws by unlawfully practicing medicine when he presented workshops there earlier in January. The council warned Nitschke two years ago that if he presented the workshops he would be practicing medicine and would therefore need to properly register. His failure to do so could lead to criminal charges.
"You have been made well aware of the council's requirements," the council reportedly said in a letter to Nitschke.
Last Friday, the New Zealand Press Association reported that Gordon Copeland, a member of New Zealand's Parliament, has asked his government to investigate whether there are grounds to prohibit Nitschke from moving to the country.
Copeland said Nitschke had been inciting and aiding people to attempt suicide, which is also illegal in New Zealand.
Many disability rights groups have opposed measures to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, or so called "mercy killing". They argue that making it legal would reinforce the common belief that the lives of people with certain disabilities are "not worth living" and that they would be "better off dead than disabled".
Nitschke advised in the May 22, 2002 suicide of Australian euthanasia crusader Nancy Crick, 69. An autopsy later revealed that she did not have terminal cancer as she had reported in her Internet "suicide diary".
"Suicide doctor faces new jail threat" (The Sunday Age)
"Police probe death of euthanasia supporter" (The Age)
"MP asks Govt to bar Nitschke from NZ" (New Zealand Press Association)