Testing kits that allow people to check the strength of drugs they have bought in order to commit suicide are to be sold in the UK by one of the world’s leading advocates of euthanasia.
Dr Philip Nitschke, an Australian physician known as Dr Death for his enthusiastic promotion of a person’s right to take his own life, believes the UK is a suitable place to run a trial of the kits, which he has been developing in his laboratory. But Nitschke’s actions have revived concerns that healthy elderly and vulnerable people will end up killing themselves in the belief that they have become a burden to their families.
Why should the reason matter? Freedom to choose is the question.
Last autumn, Nitschke’s organisation, Exit International, provoked uproar in the UK when it held workshops giving people advice on how they could end their lives. One workshop in Bournemouth was cancelled after the council stepped in. However, a similar event went ahead in central London and was reported to have been well attended.
But now Exit is provoking further controversy with its plans to sell the barbiturate-testing kits here. In the latest issue of its magazine Deliverance, Exit explains how it created a purpose-built laboratory to test “end-of-life options”. The article continues: “Calibration of the chemicals involved is essential so that those using the test will be certain that the drugs they test will give them a peaceful and reliable death.
“The kit is scheduled for release in the UK in May and will be available internationally shortly after that.”
Bravo! The good doctor will now have to suffer through months of harassment. Here in the U.S. he’d run the additional risk of imprisonment – for talking about his beliefs. Not directly, of course. Our political establishment is too sophisticated for that. But, they’d work at it.