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June 15, 2019

Correction to Derek Humphry Assisted Suicide History Chronology

This week the Godfather of the Assisted Suicide movement, Derek Humphry, made an unfortunate, but significant, omission in his chronology of the history of Assisted Suicide laws up to and including June 2019.

Exit is certain that this was nothing more than a sleight of the pencil, but in these days of ‘alternative facts’, the truth matters more than ever!

Correction to Derek Humphry’s Chronology

The first place in the world to allow a doctor to administer a legal, lethal, voluntary injection to a patient was the Northern Territory of Australia.

The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act was conceived and presented to the Northern Territory by then Chief Minister, Marshall Perron. The ROTI Act was enacted 1 July 1996.

The  doctor who administered the first legal, lethal, voluntary injection (to patient Bob Dent (who was suffering from prostate cancer) was Exit International Founder & Director, Dr Philip Nitschke.

The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act lasted only nine months before it was overturned by the Euthanasia Laws Act in the Australian Federal Parliament. This Act became known as the Kevin Andrews Act (named after the conservative catholic politician from Melbourne who presented the Private Member’s bill to the Parliament).

The law was able to be overturned thanks to Section 122 of the Australian Constitution. This historical quirk allows the Federal Parliament to make laws for the three territories of Australia. This Section does not apply to the States of Australia.

In his email blog on 14 June, Derek wrote:

‘Various forms of medical assisted dying have been approved in the following  states and nations.  Each law has its own limits, rules and guidelines.  All but Switzerland forbid foreigners this type of help to die.  Only Canada,  the Netherlands, Colombia and Belgium permit chosen death via doctor lethal injection as well as oral ingestion; all others are by doctor prescription which the patient drinks. A  policy statement in England gives clear guidance when helping another to die would not be prosecuted, but there is no law.’

Sydney Morning Herald – 1 July 1996 (click on image to enlarge)

Corrected Historical Chronology

  • Switzerland 1940
  • Northern Territory of Australia (1 July 1996 – 27 March 1997)
  • *Oregon  (passed in 1994 but not enacted until late 1997)
  • Colombia  l997
  • The Netherlands  2002
  • Belgium  2002
  • *Washington  2008
  • Luxembourg   2009Montana   2009 (court ruling only)
  • England & Wales  2010 (prosecution policy statement only. No law.)*Vermont  2014
  • Quebec  2015
  • *California  2016
  • Canada  2016
  • *Colorado 2016
  • Washington DC  2017
  • *Hawaii 2019
  • *New Jersey  2019
  • Victoria (Australia) 2019
  • *Maine (2019)

The 9 US states are  starred*: