Australian assisted suicide activist Dr Philip Nitschke is spruiking his “peaceful pill” in the US while he attends the launch of a documentary about his involvement in the suicide of a 79-year- old Perth woman. He will tell several right-to-die groups in Washington DC that his pill can easily be made from household ingredients. “If you drink it you will go to sleep and you will die,” he explains.
The documentary, Mademoiselle and the Doctor, directed by Janine Hosking, is being shown at a Washington film festival. It examines the relationship between Dr Nitschke and Lisette Nigot, a retired academic who wanted to die before she turned 80, even though she was healthy.
Because it depicts euthanasia as a basic right for everyone, not just those who are terminally ill and in great pain, Dr Nitschke acknowledges that it changes the character of the euthanasia debate.
“I kept trying to tell her that she should write a book or take a cruise,” Dr Nitschke said. “Most of the people I see are very, very sick and I can understand them wanting to die. But at a fundamental level I believe in the idea that a person’s life is their own and they should have the right to dispose of it in any way they want.”
This week also saw the resolution of outstanding legal questions surrounding the suicide of one of Dr Nitschke’s proteges, 69-year-old Gold Coast grandmother Nancy Crick. Twenty-one voluntary euthanasia supporters watched her die in 2002 and Queensland police had been studying whether any of them could be charged with assisting a suicide.
In the end, none of them were charged because they all refused to be interviewed. Dr Nitschke commented that after two years common sense had prevailed.
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