Euthanasia Myths

Pro-death advocates continue to peddle misinformation and maliciousness about their cause. Two recent episodes illustrate this point. Both are covered in an article by John Ferguson in today’s Herald Sun (September 5, 2006). The article (“Last rites for the euthanasia debate”), discusses two fanatical proponents of death, Philip Nitschke and Sandra Kanck.

Nitschke of course is a leading campaigner for the right-to-die movement, “Australia’s self-styled euthanasia guru”. According to Ferguson, he may be leading a dying cause (pun evidently intended): “No doubt, he is also aware he needs to latch on to anything he can in his drive to resuscitate a dying cause. A decade after the Northern Territory voluntary euthanasia legislation was thrown out by Canberra, the euthanasia issue has stalled. Evidence of its demise can be found in Nitschke’s own propaganda. Barely a dozen people, joined by two dogs, marked the 10th anniversary of the voluntary euthanasia legislation’s enactment in Darwin in July.”

But he and other pro-euthanasia leaders continue to peddle their cause, often in misleading fashion. For example, it is a common tactic to claim that only religious people are concerned about euthanasia. But, as Ferguson says, it is nothing of the sort. “The suggestion that only the religious are uncomfortable with the concept of doctors being given the qualified power to kill patients, including infants in Europe, is glib.”

“The idea that the religious are somehow clouded by their beliefs is no more than a convenient wedge used by Nitschke to distort the debate. While religion might motivate some to oppose voluntary euthanasia, there are many others who will find the question troubling.”

But he is an influential campaigner and needs to be taken seriously: “It is tempting to dismiss Nitschke as irrelevant, but he is in fact a significantly powerful figure in the global debate, influencing discussion through his New Zealand-based website. That website was set up across the Tasman in part to evade new federal laws here that sensibly make it harder to tell people how to kill themselves.”

More recently, South Australian Democrat Sandra Kanck made headlines by posting on the Internet all kinds of helpful information about how people can kill themselves. She has roundly been condemned for this foolishness.

Says Ferguson, “Last week, Nitschke jumped on a jet and witnessed Kanck committing one of the worst possible breaches of parliamentary privilege. Earlier in the year, Kanck had spruiked the merits of the illegal drug ecstasy over alcohol. Last week, with Nitschke looking on, Kanck used the cover of privilege to tell people how to commit suicide.”

He continues, “The speech was eventually struck from the parliamentary internet site because it was feared it contained advice that could have triggered a death or deaths. A top mental health official had spoken to Kanck before she got to her feet, imploring her not to follow through with the loopy plan. Kanck stupidly ignored the plea, arguing that her problem was with the Howard Government’s Suicide Related Materials Offences Act. The Act makes disseminating information on ways to commit suicide via the internet and phone a crime.”

As Ferguson rightly notes, Kanck was “pathetic in the defence of her actions. Asked how she would feel if her public stand led to a suicide, Kanck said: ‘Then I’ll have egg on my face.’ Wrong. It would mean she had helped someone commit suicide.”

He goes on, “Kanck appeared to give little or no thought to the idea that physically well but mentally vulnerable people might follow their advice. Then again, Kanck is the same ageing MP who said rave parties were a far better environment than a hotel bar. It must have been a long time since she has been to a decent pub. Just because Kanck is in the South Australian Parliament doesn’t mean her actions don’t count. Her words will already have been read around the world by many after they were downloaded on the internet soon after they were uttered.”

Indeed, bad ideas lead to bad consequences: “And where was Nitschke during all this? Adelaide’s Sunday Mail reported that he had visited Kanck in her parliamentary office several weeks earlier. Which explains why her speech appeared to follow, in part, some of what Nitschke’s lobby group has been banging on about for years.”

He concludes by looking at the political landscape: “No doubt there will be support for voluntary euthanasia in the Victorian and federal parliaments. Given that Labor is about to hand over its power to the Greens in Victoria’s Upper House, it would be interesting to know where these candidates stand on the issue. Given that Greens federal leader Bob Brown received a gong by Nitschke’s organisation, for services to the right-to-die movement, it is a fair bet several candidates will back the move. Maybe Nitschke could campaign for the Greens in November.”

The lunacy of the radical left is not just confined to theory. Their bad ideas have very real negative consequences. Pro-death rhetoric has nasty implications. Thanks to Ferguson for pointing some of this out.

www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,20352038-5006029,00.html#

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2 Replies to “Euthanasia Myths”

  1. Thanks for this Bill, I am studying at university and the Ethics subject I have this semester often brings up the issue of euthanasia. Lot’s of scenarios are thrown at the class and it seems incredibly hard for for classmates not to think euthanasia is a good thing. “After all,” one of my classmates remarked, “the patient gets to end all the pain and the healthcare system has a lesser burden”. And some of these people want to be doctors! So much for the Hippocratic Oath.
    Keith Jarrett

  2. The subject of euthanasia is being talked about more as several states legalized it. Some say it should be up to the patient only and legal forms be drawn up/ signed ahead of time, or in the early stages of for example AIDS, cancer or Alzhiemers. With the baby boomers putting a strain on the system later on, I’m sure more will come up on this issue as budgets are cut on medicare and medicaid and relatives refuse to get involved.
    Laura Mcdonough

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