April 18, 2024

Nitschke welcomed in Singapore after cold shoulder in UK

But Nitschke may move to UK

Loathed by both supporters and opponents of legalised voluntary euthanasia, Australian activist Dr Philip Nitschke
is thinking of moving to the UK because it has more "enlightened"
attitudes. Australia has banned his how-to suicide book and has even
made it illegal to distribute information about suicide over the
internet. He is no better liked in the UK, but he is drawing small
crowds for his suicide seminars. He is planning to launch a DIY
kit for testing the strength of his favourite suicide drugs at
"tutorials" in May. It will be launched by an English woman who is
suffering from the fatal genetic condition Huntington’s disease. "We will go to her house, test the substance she has got and
hopefully be able to reassure her that she has the drug she’s paid for
and that its efficacy is not in doubt," Dr Nitschke said.

provokes strong feelings wherever he goes. Recently his invitation to
speak at the Oxford Union, the world’s foremost debating society, was
withdrawn after the other pro-euthanasia speakers refused to share the platform
with him.  Nitschke was annoyed, but philosophical: ""I can tell you, I’m pretty pissed off, as it’s not the kind of company I want to keep". Dignity in Dying, a British euthanasia society, said: "We
want these workshops banned. They are irresponsible." And Dominica
Roberts, of the ProLife Alliance, said: "He is a
terrifying person and should be banned. I am amazed they are letting
him in the country."

One place, somewhat surprisingly, where Nitschke is welcome is
Singapore. "We get repeated requests for information from Singapore so
we think it
would be reasonable to see what the interest really is," Nitschke told
Asia Sentinel.
"We’re unclear about the reaction but we’ll see how things go." In
Singapore suicide is a crime and people who slash their wrists or take
an overdose unsuccessfully are often handcuffed to their hospital beds
by police. Assisting a suicide is a crime punishable with a mandatory
jail term.

Nonetheless, it appears that Singapore is flirting with
legalised euthanasia. Nitschke is scheduled to give one of his seminars
there on May 13. Last year health minister Khaw
Boon Wan
called for an open debate. "I do not know if Singaporeans are ready for
euthanasia," he explained. "But I do know that ageing will throw up
many more human stories of agony and suffering. All societies will have
to prepare for longer life
spans and the many dilemmas that they will have to confront. We must
seek a humane way out of such dilemmas." Nitschke plans to temper his
remarks to fit within Singapore’s laws. Eventually he hopes to set us a
branch of his group, Exit International, there. ~ Australian, Apr 20; Time, Apr 13; People, Apr 19