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Euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke loses legal battle to practice medicine
January 7, 2015 | Julia Medew
Prominent euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke has lost a legal battle to protect his registration to practice medicine after a tribunal ruled he posed a serious risk to the public and could undermine confidence in the medical profession.
But Dr Nitschke has vowed to appeal the decision by the Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal, saying doctors have to face the “harsh reality” that many people, including those who are not terminally ill, believe they have a right to end their own lives.
Victorian election 2014: Electorate overwhelmingly back voluntary euthanasia, Vote Compass reveals
By Guy Stayner | Mon 24 Nov 2014, 6:45am
Victorians overwhelmingly support voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill patients, putting them at odds with the Coalition and Labor parties on the issue, according to Vote Compass results.
On the question, “Terminally ill patients should be able to legally end their own lives with medical assistance”, more than three quarters of survey respondents supported medically assisted suicide.
Let’s not over-complicate euthanasia debate
November 21, 2014 | Paul Komesaroff and Stephen Charles
The long-running debate about whether voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide should be permitted by law continues to create division in the Australian community and arouse passionate views on both sides.
In the latest rounds of the debate, a Senate Committee has called for a conscience vote when the matter next gets to Parliament, the Australian Medical Board has suspended the medical registration of euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitzsche, and The Age has initiated a campaign of its own to influence public opinion. Sadly, despite the sound and fury, little progress is made: on the one side, the proponents of active voluntary euthanasia pursue the demand for enactment of “right to die” legislation, while on the other, their opponents continue to call for preservation of traditional values and practices.
Right-to-die advocate’s mom blasts Vatican remarks
Associated Press | November 18, 2014
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Brittany Maynard’s mother is responding angrily to criticism from the Vatican of Maynard’s decision to end her life early under an Oregon law written to let terminally ill patients die on their own terms.
Days after Maynard’s Nov. 1 death at age 29, the Vatican’s top bioethics official called her choice “reprehensible” and said physician-assisted suicide should be condemned.
Pope denounces euthanasia as ‘sin against God and creation’
November 16, 2014 | The Age
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has denounced the right to die movement, saying it’s a “false sense of compassion” to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity when it’s a sin against God and creation.
Pope Francis made the comments to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors on Saturday.
Into the darkness
November 13, 2014 | Konrad Marshall
Ray Godbold knows what it means to die a good death. He has seen people leave the world in (relative) peace, their symptoms mitigated by medication – their circumstance cushioned by the comfort of loved ones.
It has been his profession to make this process more palatable and pain free, and he knows it is possible to go gently – with acceptance and support and treatment.
Fairfax Ipsos poll: 3 out of 4 Victorians support people being given assistance to die if they want to
November 14, 2014 | Julia Medew
Three out of four Victorians say people suffering from incurable illnesses should be able to access assistance to die if they want to, a poll suggests.
But neither the government nor the opposition has plans to engage with the issue before this month’s state election.
Euthanasia: A question of trust
November 12, 2014 | Julia Medew
Shortly after Janey Sklovsky’s mother took her last breath, Janey picked up a camera and started photographing Celia’s emaciated body.
Like a forensic expert at a crime scene, Janey walked around her precious mum, taking close-ups from various angles to document exactly how she looked when she died.
Dr Philip Nitschke says depressed people can make informed decisions to end their lives
November 12, 2014 | Amy Corderoy
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke will consider abandoning his right to practice medicine, he has told a Darwin tribunal.
Dr Nitschke said he was fighting a decision by the South Australian medical board to suspend him primarily to defend his reputation and right to fair process.
The Board used emergency powers to suspend Dr Nitschke after media reports he supported a Western Australian man, Nigel Brayley, who was not terminally ill but had decided to take his own life.
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke says claims ‘vexatious’
November 11, 2014
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke says he is being held to higher standards than those expected from other doctors as he fights in a Darwin court to retain his right to practise medicine.
The South Australian branch of the medical board used its emergency powers to suspend Dr Nitschke’s right to practice medicine after media reports he supported a Western Australian man, Nigel Brayley, who was not terminally ill but had decided to take his own life.
Right to die: Choosing an end to life
November 10, 2014
The desperation of the dying is something Melbourne woman Catherine Ringwood knows intimately. Much of her adult life has been spent in its company, first as a nurse then later as a counsellor for the pro-euthanasia organisation, Exit International.
It became personal 15 years ago when she was diagnosed at just 49 with leukaemia. Since then, Ringwood has fought hard for her life: chemotherapy, radiotherapy, then a mastectomy five years ago after an out of the blue breast cancer diagnosis and finally, gratefully, as a human guinea pig in a cancer drug trial.
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke opens appeal against Medical Board over registration
November 10, 2014
It seemed fitting that euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke should be fighting for his medical licence and his professional reputation in the town where he first shot to world attention.
On Monday in Darwin, Mr Nitschke began his appeal in the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal against the decision by the Medical Board of Australia to suspend his registration after he admitted supporting a 45-year-old Perth man’s decision to commit suicide.
Top British medical expert says UK will allow assisted dying within next two years
Kounteya Sinha, TNN | Nov 9, 2014, 09.14PM IST
LONDON: A top medical expert in Britain has said that assisted dying will be made legal in UK within the next two years.
The deputy chair of the British Medical Association Dr Kailash Chand has confirmed that a Bill that offers assisted dying to terminally ill patients who are mentally capable and are likely to have less than six months to live will soon be cleared.
Senator Macdonald says mother’s death shaped his view on euthanasia
November 10, 2014 | Julia Medew
By his own admission, veteran politician Ian Macdonald is a “nasty shit” in federal parliament, but he quickly loses his trademark belligerence when discussing his late mother, Gladys.
After chairing a committee examining a new voluntary euthanasia bill, the Liberal Party senator says his mother’s prolonged demise has partly shaped his view that terminally ill Australians should have a right to die, provided a law has adequate safeguards in it to protect vulnerable people such as those with mental illnesses.
Cancer stricken lawyer defends euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke
November 9, 2014 | Julie-Anne Davies
When Melbourne lawyer, Peter Nugent found out a year ago he was dying, his life changed in almost every way, for the better.
The 53-year-old husband and father of two teenagers has colon cancer that has spread to his liver; survival rates say only six per cent of sufferers are alive five years after diagnosis. Nugent hopes to be one of those fortunate few but he isn’t wasting time wondering.
How to spend your dying days with dignity…
04 November, 2014 by Meredith Doig
Peter Short talks with Fiona Patten about the Sex Party’s policy on Dying with Dignity, and being a civil libertarian party.
At the end of the video, they mention Peter’s crowd-funding campaign to raise $100,000 for a video of his dying days. The campaign closed on 2 November, having successfully exceeded that target with $124,000 raised. The RSA contributed to that figure.
Dignity in Dying demonstration next week in support of the Assisted Dying Bill
Posted: Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:01
The campaign group Dignity in Dying (DiD) will be demonstrating outside Parliament next week on Friday morning 7 November (9am-1pm), to coincide with the House of Lords debate on the Assisted Dying Bill. DiD say they need “as many supporters as possible to show peers they want Parliament to act on assisted dying”.
Brittany Maynard Has Vowed To Widow Her Husband Very Soon…
Avatar of Guest Writer CRAIG TURNER — OCTOBER 30, 2014
“I plead with Brittany not to take her life.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Brittany Maynard is a lovely 29-year-old wife and daughter who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She has announced her decision to commit suicide on November 1, and she plans take her life with drugs prescribed by a doctor.
Rejecting euthanasia and respecting the secular spirit
Margaret Somerville, National Post | October 27, 2014
Recently, Jonathan Kay, John Moore and I participated in a panel on CBC’s The National, discussing assisted suicide and euthanasia. Kay supported extreme individual autonomy: Whatever their reason, competent adults should have the right to euthanasia. Moore proposed some conditions, such as terminal illness, on exercising that right. I argued that we should reject euthanasia, in part, because it’s dangerous for vulnerable people and society.
Subsequently, both Kay and Moore wrote articles for the Post supporting their views and decrying mine.
OWNERSHIP VS STEWARDSHIP: BEYOND THE BINARY IN THE ASSISTED-SUICIDE DEBATE
October 17, 2014 · by Meghan Guidry · in Ethics & Philosophy, Politics & Culture.
I first became interested in the debates surrounding assisted suicide through watching my father battle cancer. His story is, sadly, unremarkable in the sense that like so many before him, he was diagnosed with a disease that killed him a short time later. However, to me, his last months were emblematic of an ethical debate that reverberates throughout the domains of law, medicine, and philosophy.
The 3 months he spent fighting the disease were a sobering window into what dying actually looks like. In his last weeks in the hospital, he slipped from cognizant to delirious—the result of multiple infections he contracted in his drab white room—and eventually into a coma. As his organs failed one by one, their functions were externalized, relegated to machines that filled the room with a mechanical cacophony. When he died, it was as much a relief as a tragedy.
Dying man fronts Senate euthanasia inquiry
Published: 5:55 pm, Wednesday, 15 October 2014
A terminally ill man has told a Senate inquiry alcohol, tobacco and cars are more destructive than euthanasia, but are socially accepted.
Peter Short was told a fortnight ago that his oesophagal cancer meant he had just nine months to live.
Hope for Mr Short is not about finding a cure, but about being given the right to die with dignity.
Do the young and depressed have the right to suicide?
11 October, 2014 by Meredith Doig
To the Editor, The Australian.
Do the young and depressed have the right to suicide? (Australian 11 Oct). Wrong question. We should ask, rather, when is it reasonable to choose to end one’s life.
Gerald Larue Dies at 98; Early Advocate of Right to Die
By WILLIAM YARDLEYSEPT. 27, 2014
Gerald A. Larue, an ordained minister, scholar and eventual agnostic who, as the first president of the Hemlock Society, was an early and leading advocate of giving the terminally ill the option to end their own lives, died on Sept. 17 in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 98.
His son, David, said the cause was a stroke.
A good death: Australians need support to die at home
29 September 2014 | Hal Swerissen | Stephen Duckett
The baby boomers are growing old and in the next 25 years the number of Australians who die each year will double. People want to die comfortably at home, supported by family and friends and effective services.
But more than half of Australians die in hospital and about a third die in residential care. Sometimes they have impersonal, lingering and lonely deaths; many feel disempowered.
Euthanasia campaigner Nitschke investigated over more deaths
September 28, 2014 | Julie-Anne Davies
Embattled euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke is being investigated by police in every Australian state over his possible role in nearly 20 deaths in the past three years, all of them apparently suicides.
The latest investigation, by Victoria Police, concerns the death of a 55-year-old Geelong man who allegedly killed himself using a do-it-yourself kit bought though a company affiliated with Exit International, the pro-euthanasia organisation founded by Dr Nitschke.
Right to Die, or Duty to Die? The Slippery-Slope Argument Against Euthanasia Revisited
Charles Camosy | ABC RELIGION AND ETHICS | 1 SEP 2014
Here I want to leave the theoretical arguments often used to justify euthanasia aside, and focus instead on the problems inherent in implementing it as public policy.
Any ethic that attempts to develop virtues as a bulwark against the flawed, sinful nature of human beings – as the Christian ethic does – cannot help but be concerned about the unintended consequences of euthanasia’s legalization. Human beings are prone to push boundaries and hijack accepted practices for self-serving and even destructive purposes. There is no reason to think that euthanasia would be an exception to this rule – especially given the dominance of consumerism and hyper-autonomy in our current social climate.
Peter Singer questions ethics of suspending Dr Philip Nitschke
August 17, 2014 | Julia Medew
Ethicist Peter Singer has questioned the Medical Board of Australia’s decision to suspend euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke’s medical registration, and says the only way to protect vulnerable people from him is to legalise voluntary euthanasia.
In an interview with Fairfax Media, the professor of bioethics at Princeton University said it would be both ‘‘concerning’’ and ‘‘extraordinary’’ if the medical board had suspended Dr Nitschke because he believed people without a terminal illness could make a rational decision to die.
At life’s end, we should respect people’s choices
August 17, 2014 | Rodney Syme
One of the outstanding developments in medical care in the past 40 years has been palliative care. Yet it would be more widely embraced if in its practice it better respected people’s choices and offered them the option of when to die if their needs could not be met.
Palliative care was established in the early 1970s due to the work of Dame Cicely Saunders in Britain. It is now widely supported by governments and is central to end-of-life policy in Victoria.
Philip Nitschke case highlights need for caring approach to voluntary euthanasia
August 7, 2014 | Ian Maddocks
The Medical Board of Australia has suspended the right of Philip Nitschke to practise medicine. The Board held that his advice to an apparently well man of 44 years about how to take his own life constituted “a serious risk to public health and safety that needs to be managed” and that he had breached his medical duty to “protect and promote the health of individuals in the community”.
This action by the Board illustrates the difficulty for our society in determining what rules or guidelines should frame a doctor’s assistance with dying.
Do people really have the right to a rational suicide?
28 July 2014 | Peter Saul | Senior Specialist in Intensive Care and Head of Clinical Unit in Ethics and Health Law at University of Newcastle
Seven Australians will die today as a result of suicide, the leading cause of death in young Australian men. So the media interest surrounding one in particular, that of 45-year-old Nigel Brayley’s suicide, needs some explanation.
The sensational midnight meeting that led to the suspension of euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke’s medical registration for his role in that suicide was certainly newsworthy, though Nitschke’s activities do not wholly depend on his license to practice medicine.
Explainer: could federal law end the state bans on euthanasia?
28 July 2014 | Michael Stokes | Senior Lecturer, Law School at University of Tasmania
The key provision permits – subject to safeguards designed to ensure, among other things, informed consent – a medical practitioner to provide “dying with dignity medical services” to a terminally ill person who requests them. The bill defines “dying with dignity medical services” as services that enable a person to end his or her life in a humane manner.
Legalise the right to choose assisted death
July 28, 2014 | The Age
Life is inestimably precious and should be protected – but not at all costs. Many terminally ill people suffer dreadfully, physically and psychologically, as their death draws near. This newspaper believes such people have a right to physician-assisted death, also referred to as voluntary euthanasia, in strictly defined circumstances, including that they are certified to be mentally well when they make their decision. Polls show that as many as four in five Australians support assisted death.
Self-regulation puts confidence on the line
July 25, 2014 | Dr Simon Smith, adjunct senior research fellow, faculty of law, Monash University
So the Medical Board of Australia has used its emergency powers to suspend Dr Philip Nitschke (”Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke banned from practising medicine”, 24/7). This followed the doctor’s admission that he had supported Perth man Nigel Brayley to commit suicide. The stated reason for the suspension was that the doctor represented ”a risk to public health and safety”. Undoubtedly euthanasia is a difficult moral issue, but the board’s decision also brings into sharp relief the role of such self-regulatory professional bodies and whether they are the right bodies to ensure a profession maintains standards, honours its duty to the community and respects the law. There are clear issues surrounding due process, consistency and how to maintain public confidence. By contrast, one can only wonder at the apparent silence of the board about the role of club doctor Bruce Reid in the long-running Essendon drugs scandal. The community could be forgiven for believing that the board takes a selective approach on the matters it acts on. There is case for regulatory reform here.
Voluntary euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke says suspension is ‘dirty little midnight assassination’
Updated Thu 24 Jul 2014 | ABC News
Voluntary euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has hit out at his suspension by the Medical Board of Australia as a “dirty little midnight assassination,” saying he had very little to do with a 45-year-old Perth man who took his own life.
The board last night suspended Dr Nitschke after he supported Nigel Brayley in his decision to commit suicide, despite knowing he was not terminally ill.
Mr Brayley, who was not an obvious euthanasia candidate, died in May this year after taking the euthanasia drug Nembutal, which he illegally imported.
Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke banned from practising medicine
July 24, 2014 | Julia Medew
Euthanasia and mental health advocates have backed health authorities’ suspension of Philip Nitschke from practising medicine over his alleged handling of a troubled man who sought advice about how to kill himself.
The Medical Board of Australia used its emergency powers to suspend Dr Nitschke while investigations continued, saying it was “focused on public safety and managing risk to patients”.
The decision, which prevents the head of Exit International from practice anywhere in Australia, follows the suicide of 45-year-old Perth man Nigel Brayley in May after communicating with Dr Nitschke.
Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke suspended by medical board
Michael Safi | theguardian.com, Thursday 24 July 2014
Medical Board of Australia suspends physician nicknamed ‘Doctor Death’ after ABC report that alleged he counselled a Perth man, who was not terminally ill, to take his own life
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke has had his medical registration suspended after the medical board found he posed “a serious risk” to the health and safety of the public.
The South Australian Board of the Medical Board of Australia said it made the decision, which will apply nationally, to “keep the public safe”.
The suspension, an “immediate action” separate to other inquiries the regulator is conducting into the man dubbed “Doctor Death”, was triggered by an ABC television story in July alleging that Nitschke had counselled an apparently depressed but otherwise healthy Perth man, Nigel Brayley, to take his own life.
It’s about time the exit death industry was investigated
By Paul Russell – posted Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Bouquets to Jeff Kennett and the Beyond Blue organisation for their clear and appropriate condemnation of the actions, or rather inactions, of Dr Philip Nitschke in relation to the suicide death of a Perth man in the story that ran on the ABC’s 7:30 report a little over a week ago.
According to the media reports and to Dr Nitschke’s twitter feed, he is basing his defence, in part at least, on his claim that there is such a thing as rational suicide.
Lobby group hits out at Peris over euthanasia comments
By Xavier La Canna | Tue 22 Jul 2014
A Christian group has hit out at Labor Senator Nova Peris after the MP revealed she is strongly pro-euthanasia.
Senator Peris, a Labor Party politician from the Northern Territory, said she backed a Greens bill expected to be debated in October that would allow some people to get help to end their lives.
“There is a significant amount of public support out there and you know we need to be able to do the right thing by the people who are living in horrific situations,” Senator Peris said.
“They are living in pain day-in, day-out.”
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke may be suspended
July 17, 2014 | Harriet Alexander
The Medical Board of Australia has moved to suspend the registration of euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke over his role in the suicide of a man who did not have a terminal illness.
The board has asked Dr Nitschke to show cause why he should not be suspended in the interests of public safety.
“The board takes ‘immediate action’ as an interim step when it believes there is a serious risk to public health and safety that needs to be managed,” it said in a statement.
Are religious leaders out of step with their congregations on assisted dying?
By Samira Shackle , Wednesday, 16th July 2014
Religious leaders unite to voice their opposition; but research shows that a majority of believers back a change in the law.
On Friday, the House of Lords will debate Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which would open the door for doctors to help the terminally ill to die. The public debate has also been heating up, with the British Medical Journal coming out in support of the bill, as well as – more surprisingly – senior figures in the Church of England.
However, they clearly did not speak for the whole religious establishment. Today – the day before the bill’s first hearing – 23 religious leaders have issued a direct plea to parliament.
Dignity in death shouldn’t just be for the rich
By Chris Fotinopoulos | Wed 9 Jul 2014
The law as it currently operates in Australia allows the privileged few to control their suffering and death while denying this same right to others, writes Chris Fotinopoulos.
Personally, I don’t care for the law as it currently stands on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.
I have my copy of Philip Nitschke’s and Fiona Stewart’s book ‘The Peaceful Pill Handbook’, which I acquired through Amazon.com despite the book being banned in Australia since its US publication in 2007.
Grave concerns over mentally ill accessing euthanasia sites: campaigner
July 8, 2014 | Kate Hagan, Health Reporter
Voluntary euthanasia campaigner Dr Rodney Syme has expressed ‘‘grave concerns’’ that people with mental illnesses may be accessing information on how to kill themselves through websites and seminars run by Dr Philip Nitschke.
His comments follow condemnation, by groups including the Australian Medical Association, of Dr Nitschke’s actions in helping a 45-year-old man without a terminal illness to die.
Perth man Nigel Brayley, who ended his life using a euthanasia drug, was being investigated by police over the suspected murder of his wife.
Jeff Kennett slams Philip Nitschke for helping man without a terminal illness to die
July 5, 2014 | Kate Hagan
Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke’s conduct in helping a 45-year-old man without a terminal illness to die has been criticised by doctors and described as reprehensible by beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett.
Perth man Nigel Brayley ended his life using a euthanasia drug after struggling to cope with the death of his wife and loss of his job.
Speaking on the ABC’s 7.30 program on Thursday night, Dr Nitschke said Mr Brayley may have been depressed, but had not lost his capacity to make a rational decision.
DEATH IN A CAN: AUSTRALIA’S EUTHANASIA LOOPHOLE
Posted 4 July 2014
Max Dog Brewing sells canisters of nitrogen for carbonating beer, or killing yourself, depending on who you ask.
We asked the man behind the company and euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke, who in 1996 became the world’s first physician to administer a legal, lethal injection in Northern Australia. The Australian government later quashed the North’s euthanasia law, so Philip set up an organization called Exit International to help advise over-fifties on taking matters into their own hands. Since then he’s pioneered several suicide devices, written three books, and formed a political party, all in the pursuit of legalized euthanasia.
Draft Euthanasia bill tabled in Senate to allow terminally ill to die with dignity
JUNE 25, 2014 | News.com.au
A DRAFT bill to legalise euthanasia tabled in the Senate is set to spearhead a controversial new campaign about dying with dignity.
The draft bill would make it legal for doctors to prescribe and administer an end of life substance.
Two doctors and a psychiatrist would have to sign off on the prescription of the drug to people dying of terminal diseases who wish to end their lives.
Death: the right to choose
June 9, 2014 | Michael Short
- [WHO] Peter Short, terminally ill cancer patient campaigning for physician-assisted death.
- [WHAT] Dying people have the right to choose how and when their life ends.
- [HOW] Mobilise community support to prompt a change in the law.
This is about you. While it is the story of a terminally ill man who has been told he will die within months, it is equally about you and your death. Today’s guest in The Zone is not here because he is dying, but because of how he is living.
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke questioned over apparent suicide pact of Melbourne women
Updated Fri 6 Jun 2014, 1:47pm AEST | ABC News
Police spoke to euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke about the deaths.
Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke says he has been questioned over the deaths of two Melbourne women in an apparent assisted suicide pact.
Val Seeger, 75, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, and her friend, 66-year-old Dr Claire Parsons, died at their Viewbank home in March this year.
Dr Nitschke said the pair were members of the pro-euthanasia group, Exit International, of which he is director.
Let’s be clear about what we mean when we say euthanasia
26 May 2014 | Peter Saul
Debate about euthanasia flares up in Australia every few months but, for some reason, it never gets very far.
The latest round started late last month, when urologist and campaigner for voluntary euthanasia Rodney Syme confessed to an act of mercy killing, and said he was prepared to be charged and jailed for it. Dr Syme said he believed:
“creating a court challenge could set a useful legal precedent and accelerate the public debate on euthanasia.”
No doubt, this is an act of individual bravery – a kick at the hornet’s nest. But will it really advance the euthanasia debate?
Euthanasia advocates fear police raids
May 23, 2014 | Tammy Mills
Victorian members of a pro-euthanasia group are fearful of police raids after warrants were executed across Australia over the importation of a lethal drug, group head Dr Philip Nitschke says.
Two people, from Western Australia and Queensland, have been charged with importing the illegal drug Nembutal, and state police have spoken to 10 others in WA, Queensland and South Australia in the past month.
Dr Nitschke, director of Exit International, said on Friday morning that the police action had spread a ripple of fear through the group’s 6000 members, which include more than 1000 Victorians.
Doctors take risks to offer dignity for the dying
May 14, 2014 | Stephen Charles
A doctor treating a patient who is terminally ill, or suffering intolerable pain, is faced with problems which few if any other professionals have to tackle.
There is now legislation which specifically permits euthanasia or assisted suicide in several American states, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The experience of these jurisdictions has provided very little, if any, evidence to support the objections of those who oppose a change in the law. But neither the Australian government, nor that of any Australian state, has shown any willingness to reform the law.
Dying with dignity – or a licence to kill?
April 29, 2014 | Julia Medew
Voluntary euthanasia is an issue that just won’t, well, die. Why is it an issue of such persistent public debate – and what might resolve it one way or the other? Julie Medew takes the pulse of a divisive debate
1. Dying with dignity – it’s an unresolved debate that returns periodically to haunt the political cycle. Are those in favour and those opposed so fixed in their positions that the problem is intractable?
Police investigating doctor who gave dying man drugs
April 28, 2014 | Julia Medew | Health Editor
Victorian police are investigating a Melbourne doctor’s confession that he gave a dying man a lethal drug shortly before the man killed himself with it in 2005.
Just hours after euthanasia advocate Dr Rodney Syme admitted on Monday morning that he had given Steve Guest Nembutal while he was dying from oesophageal cancer, a spokeswoman for Victoria Police said the homicide squad had reopened its investigation into the case.
Doctor admits giving dying man the drugs to end his life
April 28, 2014 | Julia Medew | Health Editor
Voluntary euthanasia campaigner Dr Rodney Syme has admitted giving a dying man the lethal drug Nembutal two weeks before he killed himself with it at his Point Lonsdale home.
In a disclosure that could trigger a test case for physician-assisted suicide in Victoria, Dr Syme said he gave Steve Guest Nembutal while he was dying from oesophageal cancer in July 2005, because he was suffering intolerable physical and psychological pain and needed control over the end of his life.
Doctor challenges euthanasia law that calls mercy a crime
April 28, 2014 | Julia Medew
For nine years, Dr Rodney Syme has kept his silence about the lethal drug he gave to a dying man. Now he is speaking out and prepared to face the legal consequences.
Rodney Syme never met his grandfather George, but he feels he has lived much of his life in the old man’s gaze. George Syme risked his safety to tend to the wounded at Gallipoli during the First World War. Now Rodney Syme, a respected surgeon, is looking to his forebear’s courage and leadership as he speaks out about potentially breaking the law for a just cause.
When he was a child, Syme says he often faced a portrait of Sir George hanging halfway down the stairs of his Malvern home. ”The eyes seemed to follow you wherever you went,” he says. ”I always thought this guy has got his eyes on me.”
Death with dignity reform
March 16, 2014 | Farrah Tomazin
Victorians will be able to instruct their doctors to not give them life-prolonging treatment for possible future illnesses, under a state government push to allow people to die with dignity.
As a condition of hospital funding, patients will now be encouraged to create ”advance care plans” setting out the kind of medical care they would want in the event of illnesses such as dementia, cancer or brain damage.
The directives would give people a greater say on how they want to die – before they lose their decision-making capacity – and provide clinicians with guidance to implement their patients’ wishes.
Why is it so hard to grant the wish to die in peace?
May 16, 2013, The Sydney Morning Herald
Prolonging people’s dying days is often not the best care.
I am a general practitioner. Let me tell you a true story of a gent in his 80s who has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer for a few years.
He is on warfarin for an irregular heart beat. A year ago he had a stroke, permanently affecting his speech and causing weakness on the right side of his body. Communication and mobility became difficult.
As his wife doesn’t drive, they rely on elderly neighbours to help with transport. After the stroke, he said that he would rather die than go to a nursing home in the event of a further deterioration.
Recently he became seriously unwell and was rushed to hospital. The new diagnoses were acute renal failure and leukaemia.
Death on her terms
May 5, 2013, Neil McMahon, Sydney Morning Herald
As someone who has lived much of her life on borrowed time, mother-of-two Lisa Leskie long ago made plans for the end. She talks about the importance of having ”the conversation”.
After a life lived on borrowed time, death holds no fear for Lisa Leskie. Photo: Angela Wylie
For most of us, it is the hardest conversation of all, but for Lisa Leskie, talking about the prospect of her death and the manner of her passing, chosen by her in advance, holds no fear.
As a baby, they said she was already living on borrowed time – congenital heart disease, nothing that could be done. She was not expected to live past her fifth birthday. But in the four decades since then, she has heard this and faced it again and again, never far from yet another medical crisis.
Many in aged care allowed to ‘die peacefully’, without CPR, study suggests
May 5, 2013, Neil McMahon, The Age
Most nursing home managers and staff do not support giving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to elderly residents who suffer heart attacks, and the technique has been found to be ineffective in reviving most.
While the policy of most nursing homes is to administer CPR, a survey of managers of the homes by Dr Bill Silvester, who heads the Respecting Patient Choices program based at the Austin Hospital, found fewer than one in five thought heart attack patients should be revived.
Talking about death is a necessary part of life
May 5, 2013, The Sydney Morning Herald
Several weeks ago, Beverley Broadbent, 83, allowed the posthumous revelation of her decision to take her own life. She did so in February. Ms Broadbent did not have a terminal disease. She was not depressed. She was rational and in control of her thoughts. She simply had decided she wanted to be in control of when and how she died. She took Nembutal, known as the peaceful pill, and passed away.
Ms Broadbent had planned her death and, in doing so, had taken the randomness and vicissitudes of decline out of her life equation. Her decision and actions provoked diametrically opposed views, which of course they would. Many applauded her courage, others did not. One thing it did was to bring to the surface a conversation in society that is often the hardest to start and keep going: how do we talk about death?
Euthanasia should not be a ‘quick fix’
April 26, 2013, Dan Harrison, The Age
Senior Australian of the year Ian Maddocks has expressed concern that if euthanasia were legalised, death could be seen as a ”quick fix” to suffering that could be relieved with palliative care.
Professor Maddocks, a palliative care specialist, said while he did not want to see doctors jailed for helping their patients die, he did not want to see voluntary euthanasia legalised.
Beverley’s legacy: society dying for the right to die
The Age, Rodney Syme, 8 April 2013
Amid the debate over rational suicide, the law must express our prerogative to choose.
Beverley Broadbent would be thrilled at the discussion that has followed her story in The Age – it was just what she intended. She would have laughed at the psychiatrist who made an obscure diagnosis without even speaking to her. She would have questioned the notion that doctors are healers as being only partly true, and not applying to the degenerative associations of old age, strokes and dementias, and the terminal illnesses that ultimately claim us all. She would have quietly cried as she read Judith Taylor’s tragic story of a 26-year-old son who mistakenly and irrationally ended his life using information from Exit International. She would have argued vehemently that such information should come through a careful, sympathetic medical dialogue. This is what protected Fay Manoni’s depressed mother-in-law.
(Dr Rodney Syme, former vice-president of Dying with Dignity Victoria.)
Right to Life protests
The Age, Julia Medew, 5 April 2013
Right to Life Australia has condemned Beverley Broadbent’s decision to tell her story and Fairfax Media for reporting it, saying it will cause elderly people to consider suicide.
President of Right to Life Australia Margaret Tighe (pictured) said it was sad that Ms Broadbent had taken her own life, and accused her of letting herself become a “poster girl” for the right to die movement. She also criticised Fairfax Media for publishing the story, saying it would make elderly people feel a duty to die.
Bid for national euthanasia laws
Julia Medew, Health Editor, The Age, 4 April 2013
Federal politicians should start exploring safe models for euthanasia and assisted suicide, the peak body for older Australians says.
While dying with dignity laws have generally been debated at the state and territory government level, chief executive of the Council on the Ageing Sue Hendy said the Commonwealth should look at the issue for all Australians.
However, Ms Hendy said if the federal government was to look at legislation, it would need to ensure it strengthened anti-discrimination laws to protect elderly people from ageism and elder abuse.
‘Peaceful pill’ starts a search
Julia Medew, Health Editor, The Age, 3 April 2013
The Coroners Court of Victoria is seeking a new definition for suicides with the drug euthanasia advocates call the ”peaceful pill”.
As the court deals with a rising number of planned deaths among people with chronic or terminal illnesses, it has written to Exit International about terminology.
In a December letter to the group, Jeremy Dwyer, of the Coroners Prevention Unit, said he was seeking advice on how to describe the suicide of a person who has used Exit’s banned manual, The Peaceful Pill Handbook.
Suicide a calm and beautiful ending, says witness
Julia Medew, Health Editor, The Age, 3 April 2013
A friend of Beverley Broadbent has revealed she sat with the 83-year-old when she took her own life at her home in February.
The nurse, who wants to be known only as Amanda, contacted The Age yesterday to say that she comforted Ms Broadbent as she died on February 11, but did not assist her in any way.
Amanda said Ms Broadbent drank a lethal dose of Nembutal – the barbiturate euthanasia advocates call the ”peaceful pill” – about 7.30pm on February 11. She died serenely in her bed about 30 minutes later.
The Age, Julia Medew, 2 April 2013
By her own account, Beverley Broadbent had lived a wonderful, fulfilling life. But she decided she’d had enough and it was time to go.
Beverley Broadbent had observed many deaths before she planned her own. When she was just six years old, her mother died of heart failure at 36, leaving her alone with her devastated father. It was a swift but cruel death that came too soon for the family of three.
Later, when she was in her 30s, she helped nurse her 100-year-old grandmother until the end. It was a difficult, long decline for a woman who in her youth had been a feisty activist with the Temperance Society.
To prolong life at all costs can be an act of cruelty
30 March 2013, The Saturday Age, David Campbell
Entering a high-care nursing home is like walking into a vision of hell. Broken bodies huddle in wheelchairs or lie, immobile, in stark rooms. Eyes stare unseeingly, any sense of awareness lost within shattered minds. Voices shout random words.
Visitors sit with loved ones, trying to communicate. Hoping for some sign of recognition. Wondering if this helpless dependence lies in their own future.
Those few patients capable of movement pace endlessly, like wild animals in a cage. At mealtimes, trembling hands attempt to convey food between plate and mouth, failing more often than not. Overworked staff feed those who cannot cope, trying to do the impossible and be everywhere at once. Patience is an essential job requirement.
Man pleads guilty to attempted murder of wife
ABC News, 25th February 2013
A Victorian man has pleaded guilty to attempted murder over a bid to kill himself and his terminally ill wife. The Supreme Court, sitting in Ballarat, heard 73-year-old Heinz Klinkerman, from Yandoit, near Ballarat, was the sole carer for his 84-year-old wife Beryl. She was sick with Parkinson’s disease and dementia in 2007.
The court was told Mrs Klinkerman’s health had deteriorated to the point she could barely communicate. It is alleged Mr Klinkerman attempted to kill his wife and himself in their lounge room of their home last August. A nurse found the pair unconscious and they were taken to hospital. Mrs Klinkerman is now in palliative care. The prosecution said a computer containing emails from the pro-euthanasia group Exit International was seized by police.
Speeches from CNK Rally
2nd August 2012
Here are a collection of speeches from the CNK Rally held in July 2012
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