[Right_to_die] Planned laws to stop assisted suicide info. on Internet
Derek Humphry (ERGO EFN)
ergo at efn.org
Sat Apr 10 14:10:37 PDT 2004
ABC Online: Script of broadcast
AM - New laws will stifle right to die debate: Euthanasia advocates
AM - Saturday, 10 April , 2004 08:13:40
Reporter: Anne Barker
TANYA NOLAN: Euthanasia advocates in Australia are concerned about
proposed new laws they say will stifle debate about the right to die.
The Federal Attorney-General's Department has tabled legislation that
would make it an offence to promote material on the Internet that assists
someone in committing suicide.
The law could impose fines of more than half a million dollars.
As Anne Barker reports, euthanasia organisations are seeking legal advice
to determine whether they could face prosecution if the Bill is passed.
ANNE BARKER: When 69-year-old Queenslander Nancy Crick committed suicide
two years ago, she did it by taking a lethal cocktail of drugs that she was
able to get hold of mostly over the Internet.
But if draft legislation now before Federal Parliament had been in place
back then, Nancy Crick might never have been able to kill herself the way
she did, because it specifically prohibits the use of the Internet to
transmit information intended to assist someone's suicide.
The euthanasia advocate, Philip Nitschke, who was at Nancy Crick's side
when she died, says others like her would be forced to take more desperate
PHILIP NITSCHKE: It's impossible to provide that information and remain
within the law with the current pieces of legislation that we're now. we're
now flagging. So it would have made it impossible for her to get accurate
information, and when people can't get answers to their questions, they
increasingly resort to desperate things, and that's why the commonest method
used by the elderly in this country to end their lives is by hanging
The Federal Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill makes it an offence to use
the Internet, email or other online service to transmit, publish or
distribute material intended to promote suicide. And it prohibits even a
possession of such material if it's to be used that way.
Dr Nitschke's organisation, Exit Australia, gives advice and information
to others like Nancy Crick. And he says not only would such legislation shut
down much of what he does, it could stifle the whole euthanasia debate in
PHILIP NITSCHKE: I think that there'll be a great deal apprehension on the
part of the voluntary euthanasia societies across Australia, whose
predominant role is to try and agitate for legal and law reform. They'll be
feeling like their activities could well be under challenge, and they'll be
having to seek legal opinion on this.
But the biggest effect will be on the elderly people who simply want to
come along and have correct answers given to their very concerning questions
about what are their options now, given that the governments of this country
have taken away their right or access to voluntary euthanasia legislation.
ANNE BARKER: But if your operations are actively assisting suicide, and
that's illegal, why shouldn't you be stopped?
PHILIP NITSCHKE: Because people want the answers to their questions, and
they want information now. To give people accurate information is not
assisting their suicide, and this is where it becomes a very, very difficult
I mean, if people are simply kept in the dark, and that's the effect of
not answering peoples' questions and depriving them of answers to their
questions, depriving them of information, they become increasingly desperate
and desperate people do desperate things.
And AM sought reaction from the Federal Attorney-General and other
ministers, but none was prepared to comment. -----------------end
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