By Paul Russell - Director, HOPE Australia
It has long been an argument of the pro-euthanasia and pro-assisted suicide lobby to say that having a bottle of poison (Nembutal) in the cupboard provides a certain level of comfort and restores a sense of control. Many would add ‘for those who are experiencing a terminal illness’, or something similar. Philip Nitschke these days is marketing his suicide methods more broadly under the sales pitch: ‘You might be healthy now – but you never know!’ or similar.
We reported recently that Dr Rodney Syme was claiming this affect as his intention in supplying Nembutal to Steve Guest in Victoria in 2005:
“My intention was to provide the most effective palliation for his psychological and existential suffering. There is ample evidence in medical and palliative care literature that the provision of control is a powerful palliative intervention.”
Syme’s claim muddies the waters here and seems more like an attempt to establish a law-changing precedent as a defence against assisting in suicide than it does about providing good palliative care.