Nitschke - The fallout and the problem with the few

By Craig Wallace, the convenor of the disability rights group Lives Worth Living Australia.

                               Craig Wallace

                               Craig Wallace

In The Age (Melbourne) back in August Ian Maddocks, Emeritus Professor of Palliative Care at Flinders University and Senior Australian of the Year 2013, wrote a reflective piece arising out of the decision of the Medical Board of Australia to use emergency powers to immediately suspend the then Dr Phillip Nitschke, after he admitted to supporting 45-year-old Perth man Nigel Brayley in his decision to commit suicide despite knowing he was not terminally ill.

Professor Maddocks intelligent piece crystallises a dilemma faced by euthanasia advocates in the wake of the Nitschke deregistration as they attempt to craft a new argument for medically assisted dying based on process, nuance and evidence, not just the wielding of emotion or the idea of suicide as the exercise of a personal right. There are lessons here too for the anti-euthanasia lobby which has sometimes equally allowed itself to be painted into a corner with black and white arguments founded in dogma.

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