Nitschke roadshow - it's a business after all

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

This article was published on the Hope Australia website on June 5, 2016

By Paul Russell 

The director of Hope Australia & Vice Chair of EPC - International

It seems that it isn't enough to provide people with information on how to get an illegal euthanasia drug sent to people from overseas; now Philip Nitschke and Exit want to provide tests so that people will know that what came in the mail will 'do the job'.

News reports about Exit's meeting in Canberra, Australia seem to suggest that this is something new. I suppose there has to be a hook here; a reason for the article. The reality is that Nitschke has been doing this now for sometime. If there's a twist it is that the article talks about learning to test the drug at home whereas previously Nitschke had testing apparatus in the back of a small van.

That van was also a delivery vehicle for 'Max Dog' nitrogen cylinders - another of Nitschke's semi-do-it-yourself suicide methods. He's also been working in Switzerland on a new mechanised death-delivery system he calls 'The Destiny Machine' which was also 'demonstrated' at his comedy shows in Edinburgh and most recently in Melbourne.

Suicide is clearly big business! I have always thought it odd that the media paints Nitschke as a 'euthanasia activist' when, in reality, his business model is built on selling suicide or 'self-deliverance' while legal euthanasia would likely curtail his sales figures somewhat by getting doctors and pharmacy involved. But somehow, when there's a sick or disabled person involved, or even someone who expects to become sick or disabled, it is suddenly not about suicide.

Link to the full article

Opinion: Doctors should not Kill

There are ethical reasons why physicians are instructed to do no harm to their patients.

This opinion column was published in the Toronto Sun on Jan 23, 2016.

Opinion: Dr Irvin Wolkoff

As a doctor, I have a question about assisted suicide that has not been clearly answered: Who will perform the procedures resulting in someone else’s death?

To look at the news, you would think it will automatically be doctors.

The media refer to this voluntary ending of life as “physician assisted suicide”, or “doctor assisted death” and — this phrase makes me cringe — “medical death”.

The Canadian Medical Association has engaged in the public dialogue about assisted death, but I’m not aware that it, federal or provincial governments, doctors’ licensing and regulating bodies, or anyone else has already decreed the people who will help very sick patients to die will be doctors.

It’s just assumed doctors will do it. Why?

There are practical obstacles to engaging doctors to carry out assisted suicides. For example, where would we find the doctors we’d need?

Canada’s physician population isn’t large enough to care for our growing and aging population as it is and governments are constantly cutting back funding to the facilities, procedures, treatments, medications and working conditions we need to do our jobs properly.

Link to the full article

Assisted Suicide conviction of ex-nurse upheld in Minnesota

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Mark Dryborough

Mark Dryborough

William Melchert-Dinkel, the former Minnesota nurse had his conviction for assisting the suicide of Mark Dryborough (32) of Coventry England, upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeal.

Melchert-Dinkel, who encouraged and counselled people to commit suicide on internet chat sites, was sentenced in September 2014 to 178 days in jail in the deaths of Dryborough and Nadia Kajouji (18) of Brampton Ontario Canada. The Minnesota Court of Appeal upheld his conviction for assisting the suicide of Dryborough but overturned his conviction in the death of Kajouji.

The Associated Press reported:

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convict William Melchert-Dinkel, 53, of Faribault, of assisting the 2005 suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. 
It said there wasn't enough evidence to convict the ex-nurse of the lesser offense of attempting to assist the 2008 suicide of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario. 
Authorities have said that Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and hanging, and that he sought out potential victims online, posing as a female nurse and feigning compassion.  
The appeals court said Melchert-Dinkel gave Drybrough detailed instructions on how to hang himself. But it said he didn't give specific instructions to Kajouji when he recommended that she hang herself. She jumped from a bridge into a frozen river in Ottawa, where she was going to college. 
Melchert-Dinkel served nearly six months in jail after his 2014 conviction and remains on 10 years of probation. While he told police he did it "for the thrill of the chase," he apologized at his sentencing and said he had repented.

The Associated Press reported that Terry Watkins, Melchert-Dinkel's lawyer, plans to appeal the conviction to the Minnesota State Supreme Court.

Links to previous articles concerning this case:

Exit establishes suicide promotion website in Canada

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) placed restrictions on Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International, an Australian based group that promotes and sells suicide drugs, devices, information and books. The AHPRA was responding to 12 complaints that the AHPRA received concerning Nitschke and Exit.

Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE Australia, responded to the AHPRA decision by stating:

“The medical board are implicitly stating that suicide advocacy is not an appropriate pursuit for a doctor. If not for a doctor, then we say: not for anyone.” 
“This murky world of suicide advocacy needs to be put to a stop for the sake of vulnerable people of all ages.”

HOPE Australia is calling for:

"a full inquiry and investigation into Exit International and the entire suicide death industry."

In response to the HOPE Australia call for a full inquiry into Exit International, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is urging the federal and provincial governments to investigate an Exit International website that was recently launched in Ontario to sell suicide drugs, devices, information and guide books.

This website violates every restriction that the AHPRA placed on Philip Nitschke.

This suicide promotion website was launched shortly after the irresponsible and dangerous Supreme Court decision to strike down Canada's assisted suicide and euthanasia laws. 

Due to concern for Canadians who live with depression and other psychiatric conditions that leave them vulnerable to suicide, we will publicly name the website.

HOPE Australia calls for a national inquiry into Exit

This article was published by HOPE Australia on October 26.

Paul Russel

Paul Russel

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, the Medical Board, moved today (26th Oct) to curtail the suicide advocacy of Dr Philip Nitschke in creating an unprecedented 25 restrictions upon his licence to practice medicine.

This action is the culmination of a dozen complaints the agency had received, dating back almost four years, including one by the author over three years ago about the promotion of hypoxic death methods utilizing nitrogen gas.

Originally, the 12 complaints were to have been aired in medical tribunal hearings scheduled for Darwin (NT) in November. Nitschke admitted, in various news reports today that he had ‘reached an agreement’ with the medical board in September this year to accept the boards restrictions rather than facing ‘four to six weeks of "costly" tribunal hearings.’ He may have been concerned for the cost after recently incurring significant legal fees in successfully appealing an earlier suspension.

However, it is perhaps more likely that his ‘agreement’ with the medical board was more about trying to avoid the airing of the substance of the 12 complaints in a public forum.

In essence, the board restrictions convey a very clear message that it is not proper for a medical professional to be involved in suicide advocacy or suicide coaching. We question whether anyone should be involved. But, in deference to the medical board, they can only make a judgement within their competency.

The only other action the board could have taken would have been to cancel Nitschke’s medical practice certificate outright. I’m glad they did not take this course. If they had, we would not now have the itemized list of 25 particular matters of concern to the board in the operation of Exit International.

Link to the full article

Medical Board Acts Against Dr Nitschke

The following is the media release from HOPE Australia from October 25, 2015

HOPE MEDIA RELEASE

Medical Board decision on Philip Nitschke:

A sound decision to protect the vulnerable but more needs to be done.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

Paul Russell, Director of HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide welcomes the decision of the Medical Board, AHPRA to severely restrict Philip Nitschke’s medical licence in respect to his relationship to the work of Exit International.

AHPRA Media Release: Board imposes conditions on Dr Phillip Nitschke, ending legal process.

“The decision of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in response to a number of complaints about the activities of Exit and Philip Nitschke is most welcome.” said Mr Russell.

Mr Russell made a formal notification to AHPRA in respect to one aspect of the work of Exit and Philip Nitschke in August 2012.

“This is a vindication of our complaint and will hopefully provide some comfort to those who have lost loved ones to suicide by accessing Exit’s methods.’ said Mr Russell.

HOPE and Mr Russell say that more still needs to be done. “The medical board are implicitly stating that suicide advocacy is not an appropriate pursuit for a doctor. If not for a doctor, then we say: not for anyone.” said Mr Russell, adding a call for further investigations. “This murky world of suicide advocacy needs to be put to a stop for the sake of vulnerable people of all ages.”

HOPE is now calling for a full inquiry and investigation into Exit International and the entire suicide death industry.

HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide Inc. is a national network of people and organisations who work to oppose euthanasia & assisted suicide legislation.

HOPE is a member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International based in Canada. Paul Russell is vice chair of the international body.

For further comment contact: Paul Russell Executive Director, HOPE M: 0407 500 881

Family challenges $1.8 million Will bequest to euthanasia group, after their father died by suicide

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The family of a man, who died by suicide are challenging their father's Will that gave $1.8 million to Philip Nitschke and his euthanasia lobby group, Exit International.

According to the Herald Sun William O’Brien’s children Gai and Brett challenged the 89-year-old’s will after he took his own life last year. The Herald Sun reported Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International, as saying:

Mr O’Brien believed that every elderly person, terminally ill or not, should have that choice. 
the legal challenge was “very surprising” given Mr O’Brien felt that he had provided for his children “very adequately”, and the directions for his estate should be respected by the court.

According to the Herald Sun Mr O'Brien died in July 2014 even though he was reportedly in good health. The Herald Sun also reported that O'Brien left $5000 to each of his surviving children.

Dying With Dignity Canada received almost 24% of their income in 2014 from bequests.