Exit International says a euthanasia clinic opening in Adelaide this week will provide information on end of life choices and a site to test euthanasia drugs. It comes as a voluntary euthanasia bill is debated in the South Australian Parliament.
Source: PM | Duration: 4min
MARK COLVIN: A euthanasia clinic opens in Adelaide this week, but the euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke says it’s not a “death clinic”, but somewhere people can get information on end of life choices.
Dr Nitschke says his facility will provide advice to seriously ill people and a place to test euthanasia drugs.
Residents in the area are generally supportive, but groups that describe themselves as representing families opposed it and an end of life bill set to go before the State’s Parliament this week.
Caroline Winter reports.
CAROLINE WINTER: On a quiet street in the leafy green inner-city suburb of Gilberton in Adelaide’s north, the finishing touches are being put on Exit International’s euthanasia clinic and research laboratory.
The nondescript corner building has been labelled a death clinic, but euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke says that’s wrong.
PHILIP NITSCHKE: It’s a crime to advise, counsel and assist a person, in other words encourage them, to die and we won’t be doing that. We’re not in any way providing a facility where people can come and end their lives.
CAROLINE WINTER: What he is providing is a place for those who want to learn more about their end of life options.
PHILIP NITSCHKE: What I will be doing though will be making sure that they get access to the best information and it’s only with the best information you can make a valid and informed choice and that’s totally consistent with good medical practice.
Similarly, testing of drugs to make sure that they haven’t acquired the wrong drugs and they’re not about to take them in the wrong way and ultimately do significant damage to their plans to have a peaceful death.
CAROLINE WINTER: Dr Nitschke expects to see a couple of patients a week, either in person or via video link.
Jacqueline Meredith from Sydney says she’ll be one of them.
JACQUELINE MEREDITH: I’m going to have an uncomfortable death and I intend to take my own life when the going gets too bad.
CAROLINE WINTER: The 81-year-old has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a respiratory illness which will eventually kill her.
She’s watched four of the closest people to her die in pain and doesn’t want the same end. She says this clinic is what she’s been waiting for.
JACQUELINE MEREDITH: It would be wonderful if we have the medication and it has to be tested to find that it’s 100 per cent alright, that would be such a joy to have that choice.
CAROLINE WINTER: Neighbours say they’re relatively supportive of the clinic, even if it is in their area.
RESIDENT: I’m quite happy with that, I think it’s a very good idea, I think there’s a great need for something like this.
RESIDENT 2: As long as it keeps a low profile and doesn’t bring strange types to the area, I’m not terribly fussed about it.
RESIDENT 3: I’m unsure how I feel about the clinic being just up the street from me, but outside of the place where it is, I’m supportive of it.
CAROLINE WINTER: But the South Australian Government is concerned and in a statement said:
EXCERPT FROM GOVERNMENT STATEMENT: Assisting suicide is an illegal act in the state and doing so is an indictable offence. The department has notified police of this matter.
CAROLINE WINTER: Anti-euthanasia campaigners are appalled that such a facility would be allowed.
Ros Phillips is from Family Voice Australia.
ROS PHILLIPS: I’m very concerned because he’s really promoting suicide and the morale, the lowering of morale of the community, when people feel that killing themselves is the way out to any problem would have a devastating effect.
CAROLINE WINTER: The group is also against moves attempting to legalise voluntary euthanasia in South Australia.
The recently revised Ending Life with Dignity Bill, proposed by Independent MP Bob Such, is set to be debated in Parliament on Thursday.
BOB SUCH: This bill has got very tight safeguards. They have to be terminally ill with no hope of recovery. They also must be suffering unbearably and also they have to be checked by two doctors. If there’s any suggestion of depression, they have to be referred to a registered psychiatrist.
CAROLINE WINTER: But with just two sitting weeks left until Parliament rises for the year, a conscience vote would need to be called quickly.
MARK COLVIN: Caroline Winter.