Sunday, 17 November 2013

Dignitas type facility for Adelaide?

Exit's new 'facility'
in Gilberton
Following upon reports last week that Philip Nitschke intends to open a death facility in Adelaide, the Sunday Mail newspaper ran a feature this weekend about the venue for this macabre venture.

The article by Brad Crouch featured pictures of a former 'corner store' cottage in the leafy suburb of Gilberton which is set to become a one-stop-shop in how to suicide.

Proving the point that once legalized killing is on the agenda there are no limits, Nitschke made this chilling observation:
"Every person of sound mind should have the option of a peaceful death and it should not be up to others to assess or judge,"He said.
"People are coming to me for social reasons - they are tired of life and they want realistic choices. An elective peaceful reliable death should be available for any adult of sound mind."
The Adelaide Clinic of psychiatry (nearby)
Sound mind - perhaps; but it is interesting to note the proximity of this death facility to The Adelaide Clinic, the largest SA facility of its kind and a leading provider of psychiatric services in South Australia. The Adelaide Clinic is only a short stroll away.

Nitschke told Channel 10's Meet the Press program this morning that this new operation exploits 'loopholes' in the law. Which laws, he does not say; but he is likely referring to the fact that the Criminal code prohibition on assisting in suicide has not been tested to the extent of the meaning of the words aids, abets or counsels.

More importantly, however, is the difficulty in creating a direct connection between Exit, Nitschke and a particular suicide death. This is where the danger of this death facility and legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide come into sharp focus in the issue of public safety.


The nature of the operations of Exit behind secure online walls, in private conversations, in the work of Exit's Nancy's Friends network and by the purchase and distribution of death kits and advice on where to purchase death drugs and how to get them into Australia is a 'no brainer' in terms of clandestine activity. Even if it were to be proved that a suicide victim had sought and taken advice, however, the necessary proofs in terms of applying the law are not that easily achieved - and Nitschke knows this.

How does Exit know that the nitrogen death kit purchased by an Exit customer is not intended for use on their relative to gain access to an estate? How do we know that there was fully informed consent when there isn't even a guarantee that the purchaser of services is the intended end user? 

This is precisely the same problem, in different ways, with any euthanasia or assisted suicide law. No-one would ever know. No-one would ever really know if consent was freely given without duress; no-one would really know whether a person was suffering from treatable depression in situations where the only witness is dead.

It surprises me that Bob Such MP hasn't sought to profit himself from such observations by claiming that the maverick Nitschke approach is far removed from his kill bill currently before the SA parliament. But the difference, if any, is simply one of degrees. There is no safe way to kill people.

According to Nitschke, there won't be any deaths in his Gilberton facility, so the reference to Dignitas in Switzerland perhaps isn't entirely accurate. But then again, if the law changes, why not?

 

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