08 January 2015


Generally speaking. most Australians live - or exist - somewhere between the 18th and 20th centuries. Not too many have progressed to be living in the 21st century, and even some of those who are edging in that direction sometimes just don't quite make it that far.

Human rights are very fragile and most so-called democratic governments pay lip service to the notion that they are practising democracies.

In Australia in 2015 we have the situation where the word euthanasia is unacceptable as a concept and the views and practices of one particular doctor are seen as a threat to the population at large - as if all of a sudden 23 million people are about to commit suicide!

Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke opens appeal against Medical Board over registration

November 10, 2014 - smh


Julie-Anne Davies

Appeal: Philip Nitschke's conduct is under scrutiny.
Appeal: Philip Nitschke's conduct is under scrutiny. Photo: Glenn Campbell
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.
The case was not about  voluntary euthanasia nor rational suicide but "a very precisely focused interim hearing into Mr Nitschke's conduct into the death of a man", Ms Lisa Chapman SC for the Medical Board of Australia told the hearing.
In emails between Mr Nitschke and Mr Brayley, Mr Nitschke chose to be registered as a doctor, Ms Chapman said.
"If he hadn't, the board would have no jurisdiction [to suspend his licence]."
Ms Chapman said the emails contained very specific information about various ways to commit suicide.
"The gas flow, where to buy the cylinders from. How to take the peaceful pill.
"He obtained scant information about Mr Brayley before he died."
Before  Monday's hearing, Mr Nitschke's barrister Peter Nugent told Fairfax the appeal as "the trial of a dangerous idea".
"It is a controversial subject," he said. "Mr Nitschke is a controversial figure.
"The views which he holds are not abhorrent, they're not out there, they are not even out of step with mainstream Australia's view."
On Monday afternoon the board conceded Mr Nitschke was not in a doctor/patient relationship with Mr Brayley.  
Fairfax understands that the board will argue it was forced to use its emergency powers to protect vulnerable suicidal people from Mr Nitschke and his "dangerous ideas". More seriously, the board is expected to tell the five-member panel, it had to act because Mr Nitschke possessed the means to transform  these ideas into action.
The hearing is set down for five days.  It is understood the board's lawyers will say that Mr Nitschke's euthanasia book, The Peaceful Pill Handbook, is a practical guide to different methods of suicide, and while banned in Australia it is freely available through the internet.
Further, it is believed the board will argue that Mr Nitschke updates e-book subscribers of overseas suppliers of the illegal drug Nembutal, and through his workshops advises people on end-of-life drugs.
Mr Nitschke told Fairfax the opportunity for people to choose to end their life needed to be "enshrined as an option".
"Individuals in a society must have the ability to make decisions over their own lives. Life is a precious gift and so we need to be able to fight for that option."
The hearing continues.

Euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke loses legal battle to practice medicine

January 7, 2015 - 5:07PM

Julia Medew

Dr Philip Nitschke.
Dr Philip Nitschke. Photo: David Mariuz
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.
The tribunal ruled that the Medical Board of Australia's decision to use its emergency powers to suspend Dr Nitschke's registration last year was warranted. The suspension followed reports Dr Nitschke had supported Nigel Brayley, a murder suspect who was not terminally ill when he ended his own life last year. When Mr Brayley told him of his plans to end his own life, Dr Nitschke did not refer him to a medical practitioner.
In an appeal of the board's decision to the tribunal, Dr Nitschke argued he was not in a doctor patient relationship with Mr Brayley when they discussed end of life options and that people without a terminal illness could make a rational decision to commit suicide.
But in a strongly worded judgement, the tribunal said Dr Nitschke posed a risk to public health and safety because he interacted with large numbers of people considering suicide and his views might cause people to "follow the pathway to suicide believing it to be a pathway sanctioned by a medical practitioner and perhaps the medical profession generally".
It said his views may also mislead people about the values of doctors and undermine confidence in them.
In a written statement, Dr Nitschke said he was disappointed but not surprised by the decision which he was now appealing in the Darwin Supreme Court.
He said the tribunal's finding meant doctors were obliged to treat strangers they meet in a social setting, even if they are not in a state where they are permitted to practice medicine.
"A doctor who fails to do so is, in the view of the tribunal, a danger to public health and safety whose right to practice medicine must be suspended immediately," he said.
"The decision, if left unturned, creates a very dangerous precedent which applies to every Australian medical practitioner".
Dr Nitschke's barrister, Peter Nugent, said it was an error of law for the tribunal not to consider the "enormous body of medical literature addressing the issue of rational suicide". He expects the Supreme Court appeal to be listed for hearing in coming months.
Dr Nitschke said: "Voluntary euthanasia and rational suicide are very challenging issues for the medical profession.  It is cases such as this which will hopefully encourage the medical profession to face the harsh reality that the belief held by many elderly people, and some who are not, that no doctor has the right to tell them when they can or can't exit this life – can be rational and not a product of depression or mental illness."
"We might not like or agree with such decisions but they cannot be interpreted as meaning that person is depressed or mentally incompetent. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm