'Dr Death' Promotes Suicide Pills in NZ

The first suicide pill could be made in New Zealand this year after 30 people attended a Wellington workshop run by Australian euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke.

'Dr Death' Promotes Suicide Pills in NZ

Yesterday's workshop was the first of three to be held across New Zealand on the "peaceful pill". The New Zealand Medical Council is closely monitoring the tour.

The barbiturate-based drug kills within an hour, or minutes if taken with alcohol. Participants are advised to collaborate in making the pills, with help from chemists, so police would find prosecution difficult.

New Zealand police said prosecution was a grey area, especially not knowing the ingredients. But assisted suicide was illegal.

The Medical Council has said Dr Nitschke could face legal action if he promoted the pill because he was not a registered medical practitioner. It offered no further comment yesterday.

Dubbed Dr Death, Dr Nitschke has previously been unsuccessful in seeking registration in New Zealand, for "bureaucratic reasons". But, yesterday, he discussed the pill with the 30 mostly elderly people. Though short of giving instructions or a recipe, the ingredients and an Australian manufacturing project were discussed.

A 15-minute video was shown depicting six stages of the pill being made, including footage of a potentially dangerous mistake.

Dr Nitschke admitted manufacturing the pill was dangerous. "It is complex, but you're not likely to get it wrong. You've either succeeded or you haven't."

His Exit International group "facilitated" groups wanting to make the pill and tested the final product, but took care not to be involved in the manufacture.

No one who has made the Australian pill has used it yet. "The law (around assisted euthanasia) is so broad. We don't know how it's going to be implemented."

More than half of those at the workshop – all from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand and Exit – wanted to make the euthanasia pill here, he said. Its successful manufacture in Australia meant that would be possible now, he said. The controversial campaigner gained his nickname because of his open advice on suicide methods, including lethal carbon monoxide machines and plastic bags with an elasticised cuff which fits over the head. He was aligned with high-profile New Zealand woman Lesley Martin, convicted of attempting to murder her mother.

He will have a bigger presence in New Zealand from tomorrow, after Australian law changes which make it illegal across the Tasman to use telephone, fax, e-mail or the Internet to discuss ending life.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand will now host his Exit International website.He continued to say yesterday he could permanently move to New Zealand.

Yesterday's workshop was followed by a public meeting attended by more than 50 people. Discussion included using a plastic bag filled with gas, or buying a deadly barbiturate – which his suicide pill aims to mimic – in Mexico and smuggling it into New Zealand. The pill video was reshown.

Khandallah member Jean Cartmell said the society welcomed his arrival and supported the pill project. "People who want to end their life need a dignified exit."

A Manawatu resident, attending with her husband who has Parkinson's disease, said people had a right to die with dignity. "We put animals down to die, I can't see the difference with people." While her husband would not use the pill soon, he wanted to equip himself so he could if the time came.

But it would be preferable if a doctor could administer such a substance, she said. Others spoken to by The Dominion Post said they wanted the pill for reassurance. Some attending were terminally ill, but others said they wanted control over ending their life.

Workshops will also be held in Auckland on Saturday and Christchurch on Monday.

Source: The Dominion Post

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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