DUBLIN, February 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Dr. Philip Nitschke, Australia’s leading proponent of legalized suicide and euthanasia, has been barred from holding a “suicide workshop” in Sussex, England, and may be barred from appearing in Dublin. Irish anti-euthanasia advocates have written to police pointing out that counseling suicide is a crime in Ireland and have asked the scheduled workshop to be shut down.
Nitschke had been scheduled to speak at the Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club in Eastbourne, East Sussex on February 21, to give a workshop on how to commit suicide. The club canceled the booking and a spokesman said that management had not realized the “significance” of the event and wanted to avoid the publicity of “something this controversial.”
Nitschke has already found another venue, however, and has announced that the lecture will go ahead at the Underground Theatre in Eastbourne.
Nitschke’s planned appearance in Dublin, however, might not go so smoothly. He is scheduled to participate at a public debate at University College Dublin on Wednesday February 16, and give a suicide workshop the next day at Seomra Spraoi, a radical leftist social organization that hosted Nitschke in March last year.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute has contacted the Dublin garda (police) commissioner, asking that the event be shut down.
The Irish criminal code states: “A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.”
Nitschke’s workshop, which has been organized with the help of the group Atheist Ireland, is in clear violation of the law, said Uí Bhriain. In her letter, Uí Bhriain told Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, “This law was written to protect vulnerable people and, should the Gardai not enforce the law, this workshop will most likely result in the death of an Irish citizen at some stage in the future.”
“According to numerous media reports and Dr. Nitschke’s own website the workshop will coach people in how to end their lives, either by explaining how to obtain euthanasia drugs, or by demonstrating a step-by-step technique of covering the head with a bag filled with gas.”
Uí Bhriain called Nitschke’s lecture a “cheap stunt” organized by a tiny group of mavericks who “craved publicity.” Last March, negative publicity surrounding Nitschke’s tour resulted in cancellation of four venues.
Dublin resident Tom Curran says he formed Exit International Ireland after Nitschke’s appearance last year and says the group has 60 members. Curran told the Sunday Post that he had sought clarification on the legality of his involvement with the group: ‘‘I was told that the only way I would get clarification was if charges were brought against me.”
In her letter to police, Uí Bhriain said, “The number of people who lose their lives to suicide are growing year on year in Ireland. What Philip Nitschke is promoting is immoral, illegal and contrary to common decency.”
Last year the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine released a study showing that 51 people around Australia have died from overdoses of Nembutal, the drug that Nitschke recommends for suicide, between July 2000 and November 2009. In February last year, Nitschke admitted that his organization had provided information to people in their 20s who were terminally ill or “suffering chronic pain,” on how to obtain Nembutal from Mexico.
The Life Institute has urged Commissioner Martin Callinan to take action to stop the workshop. The group has also asked pro-life supporters to contact the commissioner.
After Australia’s Northern Territory briefly legalized euthanasia, Nitschke claims he became the first doctor in the world to administer a legal lethal injection. He is one of the world’s busiest campaigners for euthanasia and assisted suicide, having written two books, titled, “Killing Me Softly: Voluntary Euthanasia And The Road To The Peaceful Pill” and “The Peaceful Pill Handbook” that give advice on how to commit suicide.
In 2000, he announced his hopes of buying a ship that would bring the means to commit suicide to people in countries where it is illegal. His group, Exit International, produces plastic bags that he endorses for use in committing suicide.
Nitschke has said he is in favor of opening legal assisted suicide to anyone who wants it, to the “depressed, the elderly bereaved, the troubled teen,” and not just to people with terminal illnesses.
To contact Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan: