November 21st 2015

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Gender variety has no basis in science

CANBERRA OBSERVED PM's political capital may be tax-reform casualty

EDITORIAL IPCC and the media: Last Tango in Paris

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Poland's election sends shock waves through EU

THE ELECTRONICS REVOLUTION Create infrastructure to bridge coming robo gap

LIFE ISSUES Keeping a straight face with Andrew Denton on euthanasia

LIFE ISSUES With Nitschke out of death industry, Exit must go next

EUROPEAN AFFAIRS Euro banks were lending like there's no tomorrow

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Polls show conservative resurgence at grassroots

RELIGION IN RUSSIA State control, Slavophiles prepare way for apostasy

CULTURE Mankind needs to work; and mankind needs work

PUBLIC POLICY Drug substitutes used as treatment are lethal

CINEMA The man who stands back up: Bridge of Spies

BOOK REVIEW We're getting better all the time


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With Nitschke out of death industry, Exit must go next

by Paul Russell

News Weekly, November 21, 2015

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, the Medical Board, moved on October 26 to curtail the suicide advocacy of Dr Philip Nitschke by placing an unprecedented 25 rest­rictions upon his licence to practice medicine.

Nitschke in happier days,

making his sales pitch.

This action is the culmination of a dozen complaints the agency had received, dating back almost four years, including one by the author over three years ago, about the promotion of hypoxic death methods utilising nitrogen gas.

Originally, the 12 complaints were to have been aired in medical tribunal hearings scheduled for Darwin in November. Nitschke has admitted, in various news reports, that he had “reached an agreement” with the Medical Board in September this year to accept the board’s restrictions rather than face “four to six weeks of ‘costly’ tribunal hearings”. He may have been concerned for the cost after recently incurring significant legal fees in successfully appealing against an earlier suspension.

Whatever may be the reason for his “agreement” with the Medical Board, however, one consequence is that he has avoided the airing of the substance of the 12 complaints against him in a public forum.

In essence, the board restrictions convey a very clear message that it is not proper for a medical professional to be involved in suicide advocacy or suicide coaching. We at HOPE doubt that anyone at all should be involved. But, in deference to the Medical Board, it can only make a judgement within its competency.

The only other action the board could have taken would have been to cancel Nitschke’s medical practice certificate outright. I’m glad they did not take this course. If they had, we would not now have the itemised list of 25 particular matters of concern to the board with regard to the operation of Exit International.

The most significant restrictions will mean that Nitschke can no longer have any formal involvement in the work of Exit.

No workshops, no advice, name removed from his published handbook, name and association removed from the website and the removal of all advocacy videos from the internet and so on.

It would be foolish to assume that this spells the end of Exit; it does not. Nitschke’s partner Fiona Stewart has promised to continue his work and Nitschke has indicated that, upon his return to Australia, he will consider whether or not to abandon his medical licence completely.

All the while the Australian public remains in the dark about these 12 complaints and the macabre and clandestine practices that have led to a continuing escalation in the body count. The suicide statistics are now showing an increase in the number of suicides using Exit-preferred methods, and among a younger cohort.

HOPE calls for inquiry into Exit

The medical board has done all that it can under its charter and we applaud its efforts.

HOPE is now calling for a national inquiry into Exit and Dr Nitschke as a matter of public safety. All Australians deserve to know, those who have lost loved ones deserve justice, and vulnerable people deserve to be protected.

In May this year at the inaugural HOPE International Symposium in Adelaide, two courageous women who had lost loved ones to Exit methods told their stories. There are, unfortunately, others, many others besides.

I dedicated the conference to them, their loved ones and to their courage and pursuit of justice.

Now some justice has been meted out. But so long as Exit can operate in the shadows and ply its grotesque trade, others are at risk. We would not tolerate this under any other guise or circumstance.

As a matter of some urgency, we have called upon those in power to create an inquiry into Exit and its activities.

The suicide coaching must stop.

NOTE: If anything in this article causes you any difficulty, please talk to someone.

You can ring the Suicide Call Back Service on freecall 1300 659 467.

Paul Russell is executive director of HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide (, and vice-chairman of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International.

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