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Peaceful Pill Blog

What if there were a Shop for Nembutal?

Over summer, Exit's Philip Nitschke made the trek to the Dutch city of Utrecht to have a look at the new XTC (ecstasy) pop-up shop, asking what if there were a Shop for Nembutal? An initiative of the Poppi Drug Museum in Amsterdam and in partnership with the University of ...
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Backlog of Euthanasia Requests by Mental Health Sufferers

In a report to the Dutch Parliament this week, the Dutch Minister for Health, Ernst Kuipers, has reported on the problems associated with the backlog of euthanasia requests by mental health sufferers (inc those with dementia) in the Netherlands. Reports such as this are a key element in the Netherland's ...
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Pros & Cons of Couples Going Together

The Pros & Cons of Couples Going Together is a topic that needs comment, especially in light of the recent alleged botched double suicide of Exit Members Marijke and Tony Smyth in Queensland in Australia. By Fiona Stewart I want to compare this awful ordeal (at least as it was ...
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Be careful who you tell

Be careful who you tell is the message from Exit's long-time Melbourne Chapter Coordinator, Chris Lovelock. After long and careful consideration and forethought Chris had made an Exit Plan. Chris told a 'close friend' about this plan. Unfortunately, the so-called 'close friend' then told the Police. Here is what happened ...
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Legalising assisted suicide is a slippery slope says Dr Anthony Latham

Legalising assisted suicide is a slippery slope says Dr Anthony Latham in the Scotsman. Not so fast says Exit! When an opinion piece appears in the right to life press, my tendency is usually to dismiss it. Because it is written for a specific, one-eyed readership, it is to be ...
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The Swiss Option Just Got Harder

The Swiss Option Just Got Harder in what some say is a veiled attempt to stop foreigners having a VAD in Switzerland. This week the Swiss Medical Association (SAMS) tightened its grip over when and how Swiss doctors can provide assisted suicide. While, from a legal point of view, anyone ...
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Cancel Culture gets Uncancelled with Podcast Published

In January 2022 Exit Director Philip Nitschke was contacted by the 'Let's Get Psyched' radio show and podcast series which is hosted by a group of psychiatrists/ psychologists at the University of California, Riverside with an invitation to take part in their program. Let's Get Psyched wrote: 'The hosts at ...
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Marie Fleming & Exit International Ireland

The Backstory of Marie Fleming & Exit International Ireland I first met Marie Flemming in 2011, a few years before she died. Having only recently become acquainted with Tom Curran, Tom had invited us down to his stone cottage in countryside Arklow for an evening meal. At that time Marie ...
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Sarco goes Viral & the Backstory

Sarco goes Viral & the Backstory is a behind-the-scenes look at how the word Switzerland started trending globally on social media because of a story about the Sarco Assisted Suicide Capsule (as it has now become known). NOTE - The February 2022 Update to the Peaceful Pill eHanbook features a ...
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Fudging the Facts in the Azide Wars

This week in Fudging the Facts in the Azide Wars, my old colleague, psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot wrote a prominent opinion piece in the Dutch newspaper NRC called 'I can't warn enough about Middel X'. Normally, I would welcome an opinion from a fellow activist, but not this week. Chabot's column ...
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July 22, 2015

The life and death of Rogi Wieg

Rogi Wieg, a well known Dutch poet, died by voluntary euthanasia in Amsterdam on Wednesday night.

Safari - www.vpro.nl -  - Screen Shot 22 July 2015 12:53 pm

Throughout his life he suffered from serious depression and anxiety. He frequently had long spells in psychiatric institutions where he received electroshock therapy. He attempted suicide three times. His request for euthanasia was granted on the basis of ‘unbearable psychic suffering’ but he also suffered numerous debilitating physical symptoms particularly in the last years of his life – possibly as a side effect of all the different medications he had taken over many years.

In 2003 on a tour to promote his book Kameraad scheermes (2003) he told audiences : “Most people who say they want to die, don’t actually want to be dead. They just don’t want the life that they have.”

After being told by doctors that he was ‘uitbehandeld’ (no further treatment available), he began the process of requesting euthanasia. In an extraordinary moving and frank interview with Wim Brands conducted last winter and shown after his death by the VPRO on Dutch TV (in Dutch – no subtitles) Rogi Wieg speaks about the death of his father – also through voluntary euthanasia – his own fear of death and his sadness about death being the only thing he had left to look forward to. He said that even now he still frequently feels like he would like to end his suffering by taking his own life and not waiting for the outcome of his application for euthanasia, which he expects to be successful. But he was determined to see the process to its conclusion – to do otherwise would be like a defeat.

He talks about his disappointments, four years after the death of his father he finds he no longer thinks of him as someone he loves – and he is very negative about his mother whom he calls a narcissist. His condition, by his own admission, is rooted in a long standing fear of death – and, I would suggest, an existential crisis that has continued haunted him for most of his life. He explored every therapeutic avenue available without resolution, including four years of psychoanalysis, many and varied medications and electroshock therapy.

Rogi Wieg was fortunate in only one sense: He was a citizen of a country where he had a choice about ending his suffering in a humane way.

“I don’t believe in God,” he once wrote, “But I hope He believes in me.”

Rogi Wieg was 54.

Dr.Johannes Klabbers

July 13, 2015

Oh: A word about Nembutal & Young People

The Fairfax media in Australia this week seemed to have worked themselves into a lather about young people taking Nembutal.

As was written about in Philip Nitschke’s autobiography Damned If I Do back in 2012 when Fairfax last mounted a moral panic campaign on this topic, those who are younger than 40 invariably work in industries where they have easy access to Nembutal: think agricultural and veterinary industries.

Instead of trying to hang the blame on Philip and The Peaceful Pill eHandbook, why don’t Fairfax journalists do the job their paid to do and report the whole story?

And while they’re at it, how about contacting Exit for comment, and asking how many young people to do you refer to the Samaritans or Lifeline daily or weekly? How much valuable time does this take up for your organization?

And how do you do this? And how many lives do you think you’ve saved by acting in this responsible, caring, reactive manner?

Instead of focusing upon one errant Australian 20-something who once lived in Berlin, who was banned from the Exit forums for being argumentative and disrespectful to the elderly members present.

Funny his grieving mother found it fine to send her suicidal son to the other side of the world, on his own, and then to somehow think that his well-being was the concern of a publishing company based on the west coast of the US? Mrs Taylor should watch exactly where her finger is pointed.

As Professor Bob Sedler of Wayne State University in Michigan said back in 2010 when commenting on the then Labor Government’s ‘Clean Feed’ mandatory Internet censorship initiative:

““In the US, we have a way of protecting children from unsuitable online materials at the receiving end – it is called parents”.

Dr Fiona Stewart

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July 13, 2015

What the Supreme Court Decision Means

Lexocology

If anyone was wondering what the Northern Territory Supreme Court really means, here it is.  According to Exit International lawyers, the decision is a scathing account of the behaviour of the Medical Board of South Australia and the NT Medical Tribunal. Both failed miserably to apply the law.

The following was first published by Sparke Helmore Lawyers: Briohny Coglin and Mark Doepel and posted on Lexocology.

The full account is accessible via the Lexocology link above

Dr Philip Nitschke successfully appealed the Tribunal’s decision on the following grounds:

  • the Tribunal misconstrued the Code in holding that it imposed an obligation on Dr Philip Nitschke to promote or protect the health of Mr Nigel Brayley and to assess, treat or refer Mr Brayley in circumstances where he was not a patient of Dr Nitschke
  • in making its decision, the Tribunal denied Dr Nitschke procedural fairness by expanding the “conduct” based upon, which it was argued a reasonable belief had been formed that immediate action was required under s 156, without giving Dr Nitschke opportunity to respond in circumstances where the Board had deliberately confined its case, and
  • the Tribunal erred in the construction of the Code by holding that advocacy about suicide and providing information to persons who might chose to end their own life was in breach of the Code.

The Court also found that:

Dr Nitschke was not given adequate opportunity to respond to the broader range of conduct ultimately relied upon by the Tribunal (noting that when he did attempt to tender additional materials, his attempt was refused for the reason that they were not relevant to the issues raised by the Board)

  • the only issues that the Tribunal was required to determine were:did Dr Nitschke’s conduct after he received Mr Brayley’s emails in April 2014 breach the Code, particularly cl 1.4, and
  • as a result of that conduct, whether the Tribunal reasonably believed that:Dr Nitschke posed a serious risk to persons, and
    it was necessary to take immediate action to protect public health or safety
  • the medical practitioner’s “conduct” does not have to be connected with medical practice, but rather can occur in whichever capacity the medical practitioner is acting in at the time
  • notwithstanding the above, there was no basis for applying the same general standards to Dr Nitschke and Mr Brayley that apply in a doctor/patient relationship
  • clause 1.4 does not prescribe and identify any specific obligations, including the obligation to promote or protect the health of any person, irrespective of their relationship with the doctor
  • the “responsibility to protect and promote health of individuals and the community” in cl 1.4 of the Code does not impose an obligation, standard or duty—the breach of which would constitute professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct
  • the Tribunal’s findings may well be inconsistent with other express provisions in the Code, including supporting the autonomy of a patient to make decisions to obtain or refuse treatment
  • where the allegation is one of a failure to act rather than an action, legal principles or expert evidence would ordinarily be required to establish the existence and content of the duty to act
  • in the absence of any legal principles or expert evidence supporting the allegation that Dr Nitschke had professional obligations to take the steps identified by the Board after receiving Mr Brayley’s emails, it cannot be found that such obligations exist, and
  • because there was no evidence that the conduct alleged by the Board could be in breach of the Code or the National Law, the Tribunal could not have formed a reasonable belief that, because of his conduct, Dr Nitschke posed a serious risk to persons and it was necessary to take immediate action to protect public health or safety.

Dr Fiona Stewart

(who is currently completing her final year of the LLB at Charles Darwin University, Darwin Australia)

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June 15, 2015

The slippery slope

Those who are opposed to rational people having the ability to make their own choices about how their life ends are fond of using the phrase ‘the slippery slope’ and also of quoting erroneous statistics from The Netherlands.

Steven Poole in The Guardian wrote a nice article on the origins of the phrase and why its use is problematic.

“The invocation of a slippery slope is almost always anti-rational fear mongering,” he writes. “The phrase acts as a little weapon of ready-made false reasoning that the wielder supposes to function as a knockout argument.”

I am not astounded by the simple lies perpetuated by the plethora of websites dedicated to this anti-rational fear mongering. People who feel that they are engaged in a kind of war on what they see as immorality will frequently use whatever methods they see fit to try and gain the advantage, and quoting erroneous or made up numbers without giving sources or references is the least of them. There’s not much one can say in response to that other than ‘show me the evidence’, but what about interpretations of figures that are correct?

For example the number of people successfully requesting medical help to end their lives in the Netherlands has doubled between 2008 (2331 people) and 2013 (4829 people). These are official figures from the Regionale Toetsingscommissies Euthanasie, the five regional government agencies charged with ensuring the appropriate implementation of the euthanasia law.

Whilst those of us on this side of the argument might be pleased with these figures, since far fewer people suffered needlessly in 2013 than in 2008, those who are opposed to a change in the law are horrified. They see it as incontrovertible evidence of the so-called ‘slippery slope’. But clearly it is inevitable if something becomes legal, that more people are likely to avail themselves of that legal thing over time – and to report it to the appropriate government agency. What would be more interesting is to correlate the figures with the numbers of people forced to ending their lives in non dignified non peaceful ways. Unfortunately the government agency is not charged with reporting on this but it would not be surprising if there was a significant corresponding reduction in those figures.

Dr.Johannes Klabbers

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