Ira Pastor ideaXme longevity and aging ambassador and founder of Bioquark interviews Philip Nitschke Ph.D, MBBS, BSc (Hons) often referred to as “the Elon Musk of assisted suicide”.
Is access to end of life technologies a human right?
Pastor investigates Nitschke’s work as founder of Exit International and his vision: “That every adult of sound mind has the right to implement plans for the end of their life, so that their death is reliable, peaceful and at a time of their choosing”.
Find the interview in audio format on iTunes SoundCloud, Spotify, Radio Public, TuneIn Radio and more.
History of euthanasia and assisted suicide laws
In 1996, Nitschke became the first doctor to administer a LEGAL, lethal voluntary injection under the short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995, NT, Northern Territory, Australia. Moreover, he co-authored The Peaceful Pill Handbook, which provides research and information on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide for the elderly and those who are seriously ill for use where assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia are legal under certain circumstances.
Four of Philip’s terminally ill patients used the NT law to end their suffering before it was overturned by the Australian Parliament in March 1997.
As of March 2018, active human euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, and Canada. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, Washington, D.C., and California.
FACT CHECK: The law changes in relation to euthanasia and assisted suicide and from country to country. Check your facts.
The organisation that helps people end their life
In 1997, Philip Nitschke founded the Voluntary Euthanasia Research Foundation, now called Exit International.
Nitschke was born in South Australia, studied physics at the University of Adelaide. In 1972 he completed a Ph.D at Flinders Universityin laser physics. A serious accident led to his return to university to study medicine. He graduated from Sydney University Medical Schoolin 1988. Philip Nitschke’s work has received numerous awards. Conversely, it has also outraged many.
Today’s show is going to take us in a little different direction. We’ve been profiling many of the cutting edge technologies that are in the pipeline for moving us from the 20th century “symptom treatment” model of healthcare, to a 21st century “cure model” whereby we can begin to have an impact on the chronic degenerative diseases responsible for human suffering and death, and yield extended healthspans and lifespans.
Ira Pastor comments on his ideaXme interview with Philip Nitschke:
Every year millions of patients around the globe become “no-option”. The definition of “no-option” is where “existing” standard-of-care treatment has been exhausted, a person is designated as “end-stage” or “terminal“ and will endure needless suffering and death without further interventions. Furthermore, where no effective, experimental treatments, clinical trials, expanded access programs exist outside of their present sphere of care access.
It may be an unpalatable or scary concept to many, that some people do wish to choose to leave this world in such situations on their own terms, rather than suffer needlessly for long periods of time.
Euthanasia is defined the act of intentionally ending a person’s life in order to relieve pain and suffering. Assisted suicide is suicide undertaken with the aid of another person. Active euthanasia is when death is brought about by an act, for example when a person is killed by being given an overdose of pain-killers. Passive euthanasia is when death is brought about by an omission, that is when someone lets the person die withholding life support.
Today’s Philip Nitschke is going to take us further along this theme, and into the realm of potential future technologies that could make for a more user friendly “end-of-life” experience.
Nitschke, is founder of the euthanasia and assisted suicide non-profit organization, Exit International. In 1996, Philip became the first physician in the world to administer voluntary euthanasia via a legal, lethal voluntary injection under the short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act before it was overturned in March 1997 by the Australian Parliament.
He remains a strong advocate of “dying with dignity”, spending time lecturing on the topic, writing books (The Peaceful Pill Handbook), and developing innovative technology concepts. He is based in Amsterdam.
On this show Philip Nitschke talks of:
His journey from medicine, through the labyrinth of advocacy it the area of euthanasia, and how he ended up being called the “Elon Musk of Assisted Suicide”.
Why Euthanasia is still such a contentious issue in 2019.
Future technologies for the end of life?
About the SARCO device — a prototype technological concept for DIY, clean, “euphoric” assisted suicide. And the earlier version “The Deliverance Machine” exhibited at the Science Museum, London.
Ethics, human rights, psychological components of end-of-life dynamics, and more.
Towards the end of the show Philip Nitschke tells me whom he would like to meet and the topic he’d like to discuss with that person.
Credits: Ira Pastor text, audio and video interview.
Contact Philip: +316 309 66992 or Exit International
Philip’s autobiography Damned If I Do(with Peter Corris) is published by Melbourne University Press in 2013.
Fact check: The law on euthanasia and assisted suicide changes.
ideaXme Ltd. does not advocate for any organisation or persons providing information or services to help with euthanasia or assisted suicide. It is for the individuals involved to make a personal decision and to make it within the law of the country in which they live.
If you would like ideaXme to include further research links, legal and/or medical relating to euthanasia and assisted suicide in this article. Moreover, if you work with an organisation which helps distressed people by providing emotional assistance we would be happy to include those links here also. Email: email@example.com
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