'Dr Death' Philip Nitschke to lead euthanasia workshop in Horsham

CONTROVERSIAL doctor Philip Nitschke will run an assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia workshop in Horsham when he tours Victoria in September.

Dr Nitschke announced the workshop on Friday while addressing the Wimmera Association of Independent Retirees at Horsham RSL.

Dr Nitschke – the founder and director of Exit International – discussed his new autobiography Damned If I Do and the banned Peaceful Pill Handbook.

He also spoke about the legislative history and current political status of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia across the world.

In 1996, Dr Nitschke became the first physician in the world to administer a legal, lethal voluntary injection under the short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act of the Northern Territory.

Wimmera Association of Independent Retirees chairman Lyall Wheaton said Dr Nitschke’s talk was well received.

He said about 130 people attended.

“We’re very happy with the turnout,” he said.

“Dr Nitschke talked about the four cases he was involved in in the Northern Territory before the legislation was overturned. 

“A few people had frowns on their faces through most of it, but a lot of people also expressed interest in joining the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.”

Dr Nitschke said he was pleased with the level of support.

“You can sense the way people respond when you’re talking,” he said.

“There is certainly a lot of support for the most straight-forward position, that is, for terminally ill people getting help to die.

“When you start to talk about areas around the edge, sometimes you start to sense that people are more divided.

“I always find it interesting to see what people’s reactions are to people such as Iris Flounders, who ended her life after her husband died, or the more surprising case of Lysette Nigot, who decided 80 was the time to go.”

Dr Nitschke said he was surprised by how well some of the more controversial issues were received.

“All coming here has done is convince me we will not only go ahead with a workshop in Horsham, but it will be one of the first because of the level of support,” he said.

"There is certainly a lot of support for the most straight-forward position, that is, for terminally ill people getting help to die." - Dr Philip Nitschke

Dr Nitschke said the workshop would be reserved for people over 50 years of age and the terminally ill.

He said interest in attending Exit workshops and talks was increasing.

“In some ways that reflects an ageing population in general,” he said.

“People are concerned things aren’t always going to stay rosy and there is a lot of frustration over the slowness of the legislation.”

Dr Nitschke expects to have his licence suspended by the Medical Board of Australia on Tuesday for his role in the suicide of a man who did not have a terminal illness.

He has until 5pm on Monday to show cause why he should not be suspended in the interests of public safety.

Dr Nitschke said he would immediately appeal a suspension.

“We’re not about to give up on this one,” he said.

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