The dramatic moment an emotional woman confronted Dr Philip Nitschke, aka ‘Dr Death’, has been captured on camera as she demanded he apologise for what happened to her late father – adding major fuel to the ongoing row over Australia’s euthanasia laws.
Nitschke was holding a pro-euthanasia forum in Perth when a woman was filmed shouting out to him as he spoke from the stage. Clearly upset, she attempted to fire questions at the former doctor, but his supporters instead appeared to turn on her and insist she shouldn’t be there.
As the footage was aired on the Today show, it was revealed that the woman’s father had ended his own life two years ago, despite not suffering from a terminal illness. Instead he had been battling depression, so sought advice from Nitschke’s Exit International group.
After not getting anywhere from her seat, she approached Nitschke and demanded answers, saying: “Apologise for what happened to my father… The information that you put out kills people – people that are not in a rational state of mind to make that decision.” Nitschke can be heard responding in the video, originally uploaded by Nine: “I’m not going to apologise. I don’t know who you are.”
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At one point, once back to her place on the ground, a small crowd gathered around the woman with several people appearing to tell her she shouldn’t be there. In fact, as one woman told her: “You don’t have the right to be here,” she fired back: “I have every right to be here.” The upset woman then added: “It is very distressing for the people left behind.”
It comes following claims from Dr Death recently that police are raiding elderly Australians’ homes in a search for illegal euthanasia drugs. He said many of his organisation Exit International’s group members have been targeted by police as they worked to crack down on the amount of illegal death drugs being brought into the country.
The 71-year-old, who was in the Gold Coast to host a Disrupting Death workshop on assisted dying and voluntary euthanasia at the time, explained police are apparently looking for imported drugs which are used to end life.
“The raids are designed to frighten and intimidate those who want control at the end of their life,” Nitschke said in a statement. “It is another example of the futile and foolish war on drugs policy pursued by the Australian government.”
Also speaking to ABC Radio about the matter, Dr Death claimed police are describing them as “wellness checks” and want to ensure Australians aren’t putting themselves in harms way. However, Nitschke said it is only increasing the stress levels of the elderly who are already in terrible conditions.
Nitschke is the Australian founder of pro-euthanasia campaign group Exit International, which is fighting to make voluntary assisted dying legal across the whole of Australia. He previously helped Australia’s oldest scientist, Dr David Goodall, embark on the journey to end his life in Switzerland, after the academic admitted he never wanted to reach his current age of 104.
Goodall made clear before his death that he wanted his story to trigger a conversation about euthanasia in Australia. He hoped the government would listen to those like him who want the right to die on their own terms.
Victoria is currently the only Aussie state or territory to have a voluntary assisted dying law in place, which gives anyone suffering from a terminal illness, who has less than six months to live, the right to end their life legally.
There are strict stipulations though and anyone who wishes to apply must be a Victorian resident, be aged 18 and over and have been assessed by two doctors to have a terminal illness with intolerable pain that will likely cause death within six months . However, in the case of neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, the timeframe is extended to 12 months.
Applications must also be signed by two witnesses and, in a bid to avoid elderly patients being pressured, anyone named as a beneficiary of the person is not permitted to act as a witness.
If you feel depressed and need to talk to someone, Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 14 or at lifeline.org.au. You can also call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.