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Euthanasia: Hope you never need it, but be glad the option is there - 27Nov13
Euthanasia: Hope you never need it, but be glad the option is there
Nov 27, 2013
(CNN) -- The time was always going to come when society would need to face the pointy end of the voluntary euthanasia debate: Those hard cases that would challenge most people's support for the issue, the cases and circumstances which constitute never-before trodden ground.
While in most Western countries polls repeatedly show strong community support for a terminally ill person's right to obtain medical assistance to die, the results would likely be quite different if the person involved was not an adult, was not of sound mind or was not, in the strictest sense, terminally ill.
As Belgium decides whether to extend the right to euthanasia to those who have Alzheimer's and to children, the sharp end of the debate is staring us all in the face, regardless of where we live.
The euthanasia argument is about to escalate to heights unknown: We will all be challenged about how to have a good debate, a rational debate as members of the human race, and in being challenged, we must guard against the moral panic that this issue will inevitably throw up.
The issues on the table are too important for hysterical indignation and fundamental religious dogma. We are all grown-ups. The debate we are set to have -- some two decades after the world's first right to die law was passed in Australia's Northern Territory -- should be grown-up too, even if some of the stakeholders we are about to discuss are not.
Historically, children and people with Alzheimer's are two segments of the community that have been viewed as having little or no agency, something that is referred to as 'capacity' in legal terms. Generally speaking, neither group has been held to be competent to make decisions that would be in their best interests. Yet this is what the Belgians are now planning.
For many in the ageing population, there are few fears which top that of getting dementia. Anyone who has watched a loved family member sink into the abyss of confusion and disorientation will know the utter terror that can accompany the process, as the person in question tries to juxtapose moments of clarity with the awfulness of knowing one's grip on reality -- and with it one's dignity and sense of self -- is slipping.
In New Zealand earlier this year, the Labor Member of Parliament Maryan Street paved the way with her private members bill which, if passed, would allow New Zealanders to include an assisted suicide in their Living Will.
For those who may find themselves with Alzheimer's in future, this inclusion would be a valuable pre-planning tool: "If I do get dementia, at least the children will know what I want. I can now rest assured that my wishes not to live "like that" will be respected."
Within the membership of Exit International, this is a common sentiment. So too is the wish not to waste government money keeping the demented elderly alive in the nation's care homes if that is not how, when they could communicate, they said they wanted to spend their last days.
On the topic of children, the debate is a little easier. Some children do develop terminal illnesses and do die well before their time. It is not impossible for such young people to have a well-developed sense of their own mortality.
While the Belgians will likely structure legislative developments in this area with stringent safeguards, it is the practice of forcing terminally-ill children to battle on in spite of an appalling prognosis, trying to make it to 18, that is driving the agenda.
For both groups, the Belgians are bravely tackling difficulties emerging in their existing legislation, current laws that are quite obviously inadequate, even cruel, in certain circumstances.
Unless modern medicine has a cure for Alzheimer's and any number of the terminal illnesses that confront children, the current situation is that they will keep suffering.
If suffering cannot be relieved, the question then becomes: what should the State do? Should we all be forced to live on regardless of the quality of life that confronts us? Or, should legislation be extended to ensure dignity and choice for all?
At Exit International our motto is "a peaceful death is everybody's right." Somehow the tagline "a peaceful death is everybody's right unless you are a child or a teenager or have dementia, in which case tough luck!" doesn't have the same appeal or the same logic.
The Belgians are to be applauded for their progressive thinking and acting -- in the cold light of day, the morality of their intentions is not that challenging when the alternatives are considered.
As a son to my aged mother and as a grandfather to my son's three boys, I welcome the type of society that the Belgians are proposing. Of course, I hope no one I love will ever need to use such laws. But I draw great comfort from knowing they are there all the same.
Why Adelaide is my euthanasia clinic HQ (despite Bernardi) - 25Nov13
Why Adelaide is my euthanasia clinic HQ (despite Bernardi)
Nov 25, 2013
I knew that as soon as I mentioned the words “euthanasia clinic” some stakeholders in this emotive debate would have apoplexy. Sure enough, Armageddon is now on the horizon. At least that is how some portray the future as it relates to the quiet, leafy, inner-city suburb of Walkerville in Adelaide.
When my wife and I purchased an old corner grog shop, and local icon, in Adelaide last month, we were keen that our plans for a home base for Exit International would finally be realised.
For many years HQ was Darwin but with the ever-decreasing likelihood of the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act being revived as successive Labor and conservative governments showed little interest in the issue, it was inevitable that our gaze would turn southwards.
Several years ago when I started dividing my time between Darwin and Adelaide, initially in order to be closer to my 95-year-old mother who has joined the ranks of unhappy residents of a nursing home, a return to the city of my youth was not on the cards. Increasingly, however, such a move made sense.
Not least because of this state’s proud history on progressive social issues; votes for women, gay rights (thank you Don Dunstan), the arts and culture and so on. Being closer to the east coast would also ease the stress and cost of my frequent travel, freeing Exit’s resources to be spent in a more worthwhile manner.
What I didn’t expect in setting up in Adelaide was the resistance that I have encountered from Sinead Bernardi, wife of well-known Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi. Mrs Bernardi said this of her husband in 2011, in a story in The Monthly:
“Cory obviously has this huge belief in himself … If you didn’t love a guy who was so in love with himself you’d have a lot of trouble living with Cory. Life — I don’t think he’d mind me saying this — it’s all about Cory. I am all about Cory, and he is all about Cory, so it makes it easy.”
As it happens, Mrs B is cutting her political teeth as a local councillor in the Walkerville area, just as I launched my bid to relocate here. While my immediate neighbours have had little negative to say on the clinic/ home office facility — call it what you will — Mrs B has told the media that she finds my new home office very scary. “It was the first I heard about it, and frankly I’m disgusted,” she told InDaily. “I have had no notification about this … setting up a euthanasia clinic in a suburban street … it’s very, very scary.”
This hostility contrasts with the views of old Alvin up the street who reckons it’s a good idea, telling the ABC that such a facility was long overdue. One might add, just like voluntary euthanasia law reform. But that’s another story (by the way, legislation attempting to legalise voluntary euthanasia in SA is currently before Parliament).
And so here I am by the Torrens River, ready to dispense information and advice to an ever-increasingly number of baby boomers-plus who have seen what a bad death can look like and know they don’t want to go there themselves. While the membership of Exit has long had an average age of 75 years, my generation is fast coming on.
It may be too late to help my mother; once institutionalised one’s option plummet, but I know that I can help myself and others like me.
And this is the point of the clinic.
In one sense the internet has changed the game of life as we know it. With good broadband I can meet and consult with members irrespective of location; here, interstate overseas. In Walkerville I have a quiet and well set-out office and studio for such e-consultations and laboratory facilities that can offer euthanasia drug assay services, and research into new peaceful death methods.
For those who are local, one-on-one visits can be arranged. I’ve always done this although the more seriously ill a person, the more likely it is that I will be the one to go to them. Suffering from some devastating disease should not be exacerbated. I’m the last person who should add to that person’s pain, existential and/ or physical.
While it was never envisaged that my move to Adelaide would be such a public affair, in some ways this has been positive. In week one I’ve talked to the Mayor, met with the Acting Mayor and senior executives of the council, none of whom seem to share Mrs B’s strong concerns.
I’ve also had a friendly “getting to know me” visit from detectives from major crime squad of the SA Police. I was tempted to show them my pink scooter (not quite a Mongrel machine) but played it safe, restricting discussion to voluntary euthanasia and related issues.
All this in between my wife’s appointments with the curtains man, the flooring man and the security technician. Who said moving house was easy?
Adelaïde: descente de police à "la clinique de la mort" - 20Nov13
Adelaïde: descente de police à "la clinique de la mort"
Nov 20, 2013
Philip Nitschke, médecin et grand militant pro-euthanasie, a ouvert sa clinique de l'euthanasie il y a quelques jours dans la capitale de l'État d'Australie du Sud.
L'objectif est d'offrir un soutien psychologique aux patients et aux familles, ainsi que toute l'information juridique nécessaire.
Car en Australie du Sud, l'euthanasie est partiellement autorisée. Les patients en stade terminal peuvent signer un document dans lequel ils demandent leur délivrance et un personnel de santé sera mandaté pour le débrancher.
En revanche il n'est pas question d'euthanasie active, par injection létale. La police a inspecté la clinique de la mort, comme l'a qualifiée le gouvernement d'Australie du Sud, mais n'a rien trouvé à y redire.
À long terme cependant, le Dr Philip Nitschke envisage de créer son laboratoire pour tester les produits utilisés pour l'euthanasie, une activité qui risque de le mettre en délicatesse avec la loi.
Police inspect Dr Philip Nitschke's new euthanasia clinic in Adelaide - 20Nov13
Police inspect Dr Philip Nitschke's new euthanasia clinic in Adelaide
Nov 20, 2013
Police have inspected a clinic run by euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke.
He opened the site in Adelaide in recent days, saying it would provide information to people wishing to end their lives and run laboratory tests on drugs.
Dr Nitschke said he had not been contacted by the South Australian Government about his clinic.
The Government raised concern last week about what it called a 'death clinic' but conceded Dr Nitschke was entitled to practice medicine in the state.
Dr Nitschke said police seemed satisfied after their inspection of his premises at suburban Gilberton.
"They seem perfectly happy with what I was able to describe and I guess if they are troubled they indicated they would certainly be letting me know, but they indicated to me that certainly isn't the point," he said.
Dr Nitschke said his laboratory was still being established and the clinic was offering counselling at this stage.
"It's going to make things a whole lot easier now that we've got this place established and certainly the opportunity to start talking to people with decent communications using video links and the like will really speed up and make a much more amenable service that we offer to people right around the nation," he said.
Council investigates Nitschke’s euthanasia clinic - 20Nov13
Council investigates Nitschke’s euthanasia clinic
Nov 20, 2013
Walkerville deputy mayor Carolyn Wigg briefed council last night at its regular monthly meeting, advising councillors that “while Nitschke has moved in, nothing’s happened yet”.
Wigg said Council had not received any application to run a medical clinic.
Councillors were told last night that an investigation will take place in accordance with its Development Enforcement and Compliance Policy.
Nitschke leased out the site last week for an unknown period and then told media he was setting up a clinic to advise people on various methods of voluntary euthanasia.
The move caught councillors by surprise, several of whom told InDaily the first they knew about it was when reports emerged in the media.
The council told InDaily the site was approved for use as a dwelling and office.
“No subsequent consent has been sought for a change in land use, and, more specifically, no subsequent consent has been sought for a change in land use to that of a consulting room,” the council’s spokeswoman said.
“Notwithstanding, a consulting room is able to operate from a residential premises without consent in certain circumstances.
“It is not currently clear as to whether the business in question fits this criteria, however it is important to note that council’s powers as a planning authority are limited to controlling planning issues (i.e. amenity, parking, noise etc) as opposed to the essential nature of the practise itself.
“As such, and given the emergence of the matter in the media, council will investigate the issue further in accordance with its Development Enforcement and Compliance Policy.”
OPINION: Euthanasia bills keep failing, despite public support.
Yesterday, councillor Sinead Bernardi told InDaily she was disgusted at the notion that such a clinic could operate in a small suburban street that was almost wholly residential.
The corner shop site is estimated to have been built in the 1890s and most recently operated as a bottle shop.
The renovated and extended cottage is attached to a corner shop with cellar.
At its most recent sale the shop was listed as a studio/ home office with living room or waiting area.
“Dr Death’s” new clinic scary: councillor - 18Nov13
“Dr Death’s” new clinic scary: councillor
Nov 18, 2013
Councillor Sinead Bernardi told InDaily she was “disgusted” to read revelations about the clinic in the media.
“It was the first I heard about it, and frankly I’m disgusted,” Bernardi said today.
“I have had no notification about this … setting up a euthanasia clinic in a suburban street … it’s very, very scary.”
The council has not responded to InDaily’s inquiry about whether or not Nitschke had council approval to operate a business at the site.
InDaily understands the rental agreement with the shop’s owners was only completed this month.
Nitschke started moving into the Gilbert St former bottle shop and one-time grocery store late last week.
He had told local media last Tuesday the clinic would test drugs, distribute nitrogen kits and “provide services” to terminally ill patients.
The voluntary euthanasia campaigner and Exit International director has often found himself in a battle with regulatory authorities.
The Gilbert St shop and adjoining home was featured on the front page of the Sunday Mail, sparking a series of interested passers-by.
“There’s been cars driving by slowly all day and a few photographers,” one neighbour said.
Legislation attempting to legalise voluntary euthanasia in South Australia is currently before Parliament.
Right to die - 16Nov13
Right to die
Nov 16, 2013
By Andrew Robertson
Terminally ill locals who are suffering intolerable pain and want to end their life may be able to get their wish if proposed legislation is passed in South Australia.
SA Independent Bob Such’s Ending Life with Dignity bill is the latest attempt to introduce voluntary euthanasia laws into an Australian state or territory.
The legislation would allow a limited number of people the right to request medical assistance to hasten death, provided they are a competent adult in the final phase of a terminal illness and suffering unbearable pain.
Voluntary euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke said if the legislation was passed there would be nothing stopping people from interstate using it.
He said it would be particularly useful to people in Broken Hill, given the city’s geographical proximity to SA.
“I think there would be very little difficulty there,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of getting the two doctors to basically agree and, as far I can see, the way the law is currently structuredthere’s no reason why the final step of the person ending their life shouldn’t be done back in Broken Hill.
“So it’s hard to see how they would ultimately restrict it and there’d be a very compelling case for Broken Hill.”
Mr Such’s electoral office confirmed the legislation was not restricted to SA residents.
But a spokesman said that, in practice, there was little likelihood of someone who was in intolerable pain being able to travel.
“It’s unlikely that travelling will be a possibility.”
The chances of the bill passing into law anytime soon also appear to be slim to none, after a scheduled debate and vote in parliament on Thursday did not eventuate.
It was rescheduled for November 28 which is the final sitting day before parliament rises.
Dr Nitschke was famously involved in terminally-ill Broken Hill taxi driver Max Bell’s attempt to end his life in 1996 using a short-lived Northern Territory law.
The director of Exit Australia said since that law was overturned there had been around 15 attempts to get similar voluntary euthanasia laws through in other states, including five in SA.
“It is important to get something done and Such is to be applauded for putting it forward with all the limitation it has.
“There has been three failed attempts this year to pass similar laws in NSW, all of which have failed.”
The voluntary euthanasia debate comes as Dr Nitschke is expected to open Australia’s first euthanasia clinic in Adelaide this week.
The clinic will provide advice and information to people face-to-face and via virtual consultations, as well as test and give advice about euthanasia drugs people have purchased.
Dr Nitschke said the clinic was in response to a growing number of people enquiring about their rights and options.
“We’ve set it up so that people can come here and talk and have a consultation, but we’ve also got in place a video conferencing set up so I can talk to people remotely using video link, if that’s more appropriate.
“We get one or two calls a day from people who really want to talk about their particular situation and not all of them ... are coming from Adelaide.
They’re coming from all over the place.”
He said many of them were frustrated that there were no laws to help them.
“And that ultimately is what’s driving a lot of people our way because people are saying ‘look, I really haven’t got the time to wait around’.
“So ... elderly people are often saying ‘we’d like the law to come in but in the meantime we’ve got to look for something else’ and that’s where most of our enquiries are coming from.”
Euthanasia clinic opens in Adelaide - 12Nov13
Euthanasia clinic opens in Adelaide
Nov 12, 2013
MARK COLVIN: A euthanasia clinic opens in Adelaide this week, but the euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke says it's not a "death clinic", but somewhere people can get information on end of life choices.
Dr Nitschke says his facility will provide advice to seriously ill people and a place to test euthanasia drugs.
Residents in the area are generally supportive, but groups that describe themselves as representing families opposed it and an end of life bill set to go before the State's Parliament this week.
Caroline Winter reports.
CAROLINE WINTER: On a quiet street in the leafy green inner-city suburb of Gilberton in Adelaide's north, the finishing touches are being put on Exit International's euthanasia clinic and research laboratory.
The nondescript corner building has been labelled a death clinic, but euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke says that's wrong.
PHILIP NITSCHKE: It's a crime to advise, counsel and assist a person, in other words encourage them, to die and we won't be doing that. We're not in any way providing a facility where people can come and end their lives.
CAROLINE WINTER: What he is providing is a place for those who want to learn more about their end of life options.
PHILIP NITSCHKE: What I will be doing though will be making sure that they get access to the best information and it's only with the best information you can make a valid and informed choice and that's totally consistent with good medical practice.
Similarly, testing of drugs to make sure that they haven't acquired the wrong drugs and they're not about to take them in the wrong way and ultimately do significant damage to their plans to have a peaceful death.
CAROLINE WINTER: Dr Nitschke expects to see a couple of patients a week, either in person or via video link.
Jacqueline Meredith from Sydney says she'll be one of them.
JACQUELINE MEREDITH: I'm going to have an uncomfortable death and I intend to take my own life when the going gets too bad.
CAROLINE WINTER: The 81-year-old has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a respiratory illness which will eventually kill her.
She's watched four of the closest people to her die in pain and doesn't want the same end. She says this clinic is what she's been waiting for.
JACQUELINE MEREDITH: It would be wonderful if we have the medication and it has to be tested to find that it's 100 per cent alright, that would be such a joy to have that choice.
CAROLINE WINTER: Neighbours say they're relatively supportive of the clinic, even if it is in their area.
RESIDENT: I'm quite happy with that, I think it's a very good idea, I think there's a great need for something like this.
RESIDENT 2: As long as it keeps a low profile and doesn't bring strange types to the area, I'm not terribly fussed about it.
RESIDENT 3: I'm unsure how I feel about the clinic being just up the street from me, but outside of the place where it is, I'm supportive of it.
CAROLINE WINTER: But the South Australian Government is concerned and in a statement said:
EXCERPT FROM GOVERNMENT STATEMENT: Assisting suicide is an illegal act in the state and doing so is an indictable offence. The department has notified police of this matter.
CAROLINE WINTER: Anti-euthanasia campaigners are appalled that such a facility would be allowed.
Ros Phillips is from Family Voice Australia.
ROS PHILLIPS: I'm very concerned because he's really promoting suicide and the morale, the lowering of morale of the community, when people feel that killing themselves is the way out to any problem would have a devastating effect.
CAROLINE WINTER: The group is also against moves attempting to legalise voluntary euthanasia in South Australia.
The recently revised Ending Life with Dignity Bill, proposed by Independent MP Bob Such, is set to be debated in Parliament on Thursday.
BOB SUCH: This bill has got very tight safeguards. They have to be terminally ill with no hope of recovery. They also must be suffering unbearably and also they have to be checked by two doctors. If there's any suggestion of depression, they have to be referred to a registered psychiatrist.
CAROLINE WINTER: But with just two sitting weeks left until Parliament rises for the year, a conscience vote would need to be called quickly.
MARK COLVIN: Caroline Winter.
The road's closed for these drugs - SMH 8Oct13
The road's closed for these drugs
Sydney Morning Herald
October 8, 2013
Australians were enthusiastic users of the online illicit drug market Silk Road. But now its owner has been arrested and the site closed. Will they return to the more dangerous alternative of buying on the streets?
A screenshot from the Silk Road drug trading website.
Euthanasia advocate decries Silk Road closure
It's a familiar story. A geeky academic high-achiever moves to Silicon Valley to try his luck in the start-up business. More successful than most, his venture, an e-commerce website, turns over $1.2 billion in less than three years. But then the story takes a turn that comes straight out of an episode of Breaking Bad.
On October 3, the FBI swooped on 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht in the sci-fi section of a local library in Glen Park, San Francisco, as he chatted online. According to the arrest documents, the easygoing Texan is the mastermind behind a massive online drug-dealing, computer-hacking and money-laundering empire.
Alleged online drug kingpin Ross William Ulbricht was arrested in the sci-fi section of a San Francisco library.
They also claim he ordered at least two contract killings and the torture of a former employee. His parents have described him as ''a really stellar, good person and very idealistic''.
The website is Silk Road, the most famous online black market in the world. And Ulbricht, the FBI claims, is its enigmatic founder, known until last week only as Dread Pirate Roberts, or DPR.
Ulbricht, who has an advanced degree in chemical engineering, had developed a cult-like following among the site's users as a peace-seeking libertarian who provided recreational drug users with access to affordable, high-quality drugs in a violence-free environment.
The villain with a thousand faces: alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross William Ulbricht.
The villain with a thousand faces: alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross William Ulbricht.
But the FBI documents paint a picture of a profit-motivated opportunist who was happy to turn to torture and murder when his business was threatened.
Ulbricht has denied all charges and those who have had interactions with DPR over the years find the allegations of violence incomprehensible. His is a story that will unfold in the weeks and months to come. Cyberspace is already awash with theories of how it will pan out, ranging from plausible to crackpot.
But what impact will the closure of Silk Road, where every drug imaginable was for sale, have on drug users and the illicit drug trade? In particular, how will it affect the thousands of Australians who were making regular purchases from the site?
When Australian users tried to log in to the site on Thursday morning, they were greeted with a colourful notice bearing the badges of the FBI and four other American federal agencies advising ''This hidden site has been seized.'' Copies of the charges and indictments were soon available all over the internet.
The FBI documents revealed that Australians were the third-most prolific users of Silk Road (and that is not a per capita number) behind USA and UK. This was obvious to anyone who visited the Silk Road forums, where Australian members and related topics were disproportionately represented.
The reason is simple - recreational drugs in Australia are expensive. People were able to save 75 per cent or more by buying from overseas vendors and having the drugs delivered directly to their door, using Australia Post employees as unwitting mules.
While the shutdown has been welcomed by some, including Rod Bridge, whose son Preston died after taking 25i-NBOMe believed to have been purchased from Silk Road, others consider it futile and even dangerous.
Right-to-die campaigner Philip Nitschke has been an outspoken supporter of the site as a dignified way for people to obtain euthanasia drugs. He appeared in the media last week lamenting its shutdown, saying it would have a devastating impact on those people.
But most of Silk Road's customers were not there seeking to die, but rather to party. Several users of the site spoke to Fairfax Media about their future plans, which involve finding alternative online sources, shifting back to in-person sources or banding together with friends to bulk-buy. In not one case did anyone say they would stop using, sourcing or buying drugs as a result of the closure of Silk Road.
''Sam'', 38, has been buying personal amounts of drugs from Silk Road for 18 months, after seeing a piece on Channel 10's The Project (which ran on the back of The Age's story The Drug's in the Mail published on 27/4/12). He and his partner share drugs with friends who also made purchases from Silk Road. ''Sometimes it's every weekend, other times I go for a few months without,'' he says.
He's not happy about the closure of Silk Road. ''It [buying drugs] used to be such a drama. Friends ringing around to see who could get what and if this week it was you, it meant you were effectively being a dealer, picking it up for everyone else, which I never liked. And then you'd feel bad if it was crap.''
With Silk Road, he claims, the quality was consistent and the price more than reasonable, something borne out by the FBI's analysis of more than 100 purchases made during the investigation.
Sam would check the vendor feedback and peruse the forums for recent experiences before making a purchase. He never had to meet a dealer and took delivery in the comfort of his own home.
Sam is keeping an eye on the other online black markets and will choose one when it's recommended by people he trusts.
''Luckily some of us have stocked up a bit,'' he says.
At the other end of the drug-using scale is ''Paul'' who has been a heroin addict for five years. For him Silk Road was a godsend that enabled him to manage his habit by providing constant purity. The site's closure has hit him hard, he says.
His habit means he can't wait for a new online source. ''I and countless others like me got to go back to scoring from my real-life street sources and when you're talking about heroin it's not like going and scoring a 10-pack of [ecstasy tablets] for a festival on the weekend. I've got to go back to associating with criminals and the dregs of society.''
He is also concerned about the quality and purity of the product available to him on the street - but not concerned enough to contemplate giving up the drug.
The closure of Silk Road is no more likely to prevent Australians from buying drugs online than the closure of Napster prevented them from illegally downloading music.
And those who bought from Silk Road were ready - perhaps more so than Ulbricht was - for the sudden closure of the site.
Back-ups of vendors' contact details had been collated and stored offsite. Sellers used chat board Reddit and the Silk Road forums - which remained active after the closure of the site - to announce where to find their stores on alternative markets Black Market Reloaded (BMR) and Sheep, both of which have been quietly playing second fiddle to Silk Road for the past two years. Several ''trusted and verified'' vendors have teamed up to launch Silk Road 2.0, which they claim is ''90 per cent finished''.
BMR has been so inundated with new members it has to close the site to new registrations every few hours.
But some members have expressed reservations about transferring their business to BMR because the site does not subscribe to Silk Road's philosophy of not listing anything the intent or purpose of which is to harm or defraud others. Silk Road claimed the ''high moral ground'' of refusing to list weapons, stolen goods and credit cards, child porn and assassination services.
Using technologies that offer anonymity - Tor for anonymous browsing, PGP for encrypted communications and untraceable currency Bitcoin - Silk Road has operated openly since January 2011. It would be easy to view the capture of Ulbricht and the closure of Silk Road as proof that anonymity on the internet is a fantasy.
But although there is the unanswered question of how they got access to the Silk Road server, the 34-page FBI complaint details good old-fashioned sleuthing, not hacking or exploiting the technology. Human error - Ulbricht's own carelessness - was his downfall. The technologies that underpin the online black markets remain effective if used together and properly.
The value of traditional techniques to track down cybercriminals concurs with a report put together for the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission in May 2012. Hidden in Plain Sight was swiftly disseminated among Silk Road's vendors, and seen by Fairfax Media.
The report described anonymity and encryption, darknets, PGP, Tor and peer-to-peer technologies, concluding that the technology when used properly was effective against infiltration efforts.
''The main vulnerability of Tor and the hidden services is not the technology, rather it is the user,'' the paper said. ''Human error, resulting from a lack of understanding of the technology, or even carelessness or impulsivity, may result in Tor's sophisticated anonymity and encryption being bypassed.''
It was in this potential for human error that law enforcement agencies saw their best chance for detecting crime, as the authors outlined in the ''ways forward'' section of the report. Silk Road's users could be comfortable that the technology, used correctly, would keep them safe.
Indeed, the Silk Road-related arrests in Australia have been a result of human error. A pair of teenagers in Western Australia were turned in by their own parents who intercepted their mail.
A Melbourne man bought large quantities of a variety of party drug from Silk Road and then on-sold them to local customers, but failed to notice 12 packages of drugs addressed to his home went missing and he continued to make orders.
He received a 3½ year jail sentence.
Other Silk Road vendors have been more successful. One of the top Australian vendors sold cocaine, MDMA and psychedelics for a year on the site. He claimed to spend $360,000 this year importing in bulk from trusted overseas vendors, on-selling to Australians who were willing to pay a premium for locally posted drugs rather than risk receiving parcels that might have been intercepted by customs.
Although he declined to reveal his income for the year, party drugs are generally sold at a 300-400 per cent mark-up domestically.
Representatives from Australian Customs and the Australian Federal Police both claimed to be unable to comment on an ongoing investigation and gave Fairfax warnings about regularly exchanging information and intelligence with their overseas counterparts, and continuing to target those who would flout the law.
But all indications so far are that Australians continue to want and procure illicit drugs. And for many, the risk of being detected by law enforcement for drugs in the mail is preferable to the risk of dealing with real-life drug dealers.
Like the Greek myth of Hydra, cut off one head and five more will spring up in its place. Silk Road may be dead, but online drug dealing is not.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/the-roads-closed-for-these-drugs-20131007-2v464.html#ixzz2itU0FOzm
Queensland woman with degenerative disease considers moving to Tasmania if euthanasia law passes - ABC 7.30Report 17Oct13
Queensland woman with degenerative disease considers moving to Tasmania if euthanasia law passes
By Peter McCutcheon
Thu 17 Oct 2013,
Video: Barbara Harling is considering moving state to die (7.30)
Photo: Queensland woman Barbara Harling is considering moving to Tasmania to die if euthanasia laws pass.
A Queensland woman suffering from a degenerative motor neurone disease says she may move to Tasmania to die if the state passes its euthanasia bill.
Barbara Harling used to love gardening, but these days it is too physically demanding.
"I'm very weak," she explained to the ABC from her home on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
"I used to be a very strong person, but I'm weak now and as you can see I can't do anything in the garden."
The best the 71-year-old widow can manage is to point out the weeds and give instructions to friends who help her maintain her home and cook her meals.
The former welfare manager is dying of motor neurone disease, which will eventually result in complete paralysis.
If it became legal [in Tasmania], I could do that, I have a friend there. I think it would be wonderful because there are so many people in need of it.
So she is keenly watching the euthanasia debate in Tasmania, and even considering moving to the Apple Isle.
"If it became legal there, I could do that, I have a friend there," she said.
"I think it would be wonderful because there are so many people in need of it."
So-called "death tourism" is something even supporters of Tasmania's voluntary euthanasia bill admit is a possibility.
"You can't just put the barriers up completely," Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings recently conceded.
She has joined forces with Greens leader Nick McKim to draft a private members' bill that would allow terminally ill Tasmanian residents to give consent to fatal injections administered by doctors.
"When you think about the sort of person who would be eligible to go through the system, these are very, very sick people and it would be a huge effort for them to just uproot from other parts of Australia to move to Tasmania and participate in this process," the Premier said.
Timing important as Barbara potentially faces complete paralysis
But that is an effort Ms Harling is willing to make, because if she stays in Queensland, it would be illegal for anyone to help her commit suicide at a time she could well be completely paralysed.
"The progression of the [motor neuron] diseases differs with different people," she said.
I have to be in a fit state to do this, because as you know if anybody helps me, they go to jail. So I might have to do it before I'm really ready to.
"Eventually it can affect your throat so that you can't speak and you can't swallow and in that case if you can't swallow you have to have a peg inserted and or die from starvation, neither of which I want to do.
"This is the pity of it, because no-one can help me, [is that] I have to do it myself.
"So I have to be in a fit state to do this, because as you know if anybody helps me, they go to jail. So I might have to do it before I'm really ready to."
But the possible change of law in Tasmania gives her hope.
"I can understand how people of certain religions think that it's wrong to do so," she said.
"It's all fine for those people who disagree with it, but why should their vote affect what I want to do. I should be able to say the type of death I want."
'I made a promise I would never suffer like my mother had'
Ms Harling says her views on euthanasia were formed in her early 20s when she nursed her dying mother.
"When she died in my arms, she died looking like a skeleton covered in skin," she said.
"She had cancer, she had great big cauliflower lumps all over her abdomen, and obviously pain.
"So from that day onwards I made a promise to myself I would never suffer like my mother had."
Many years later, Ms Harling attended a pro-euthanasia workshop conducted by Dr Philip Nitschke, and is now a member of his organisation, Exit International.
But she dismisses any suggestion that Dr Nitschke has influenced her decision about an assisted death.
"Well he didn't you see, it was when I was 23 that I thought about it, I just wanted a means to die so I didn't have to throw myself off a rooftop," she said.
Family support for Barbara
Although Ms Harling describes herself as a lover of life, she says she has made up her mind about the best way to manage her condition.
"Well, let's put it this way. I can use my left hand, my right hand is just about useless," she said.
"If I can't use my left hand to wipe my bottom, then I can do nothing else for myself.
"That means someone has to do everything for me. I couldn't bear to live like that."
Ms Harling's husband passed away in 1992, but she still has a brother and sister and plenty of friends.
"My family and friends have known how I feel anyway and they agreed with it," she said.
"They would rather see that happen than watch me suffering."
Nitschke blames religious lobby for swaying MPs on euthanasia bid - ABC News 17Oct13
Nitschke blames religious lobby for swaying MPs on euthanasia bid
Thu 17 Oct 2013,
Voluntary euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke with cancer patient Cath Ringwood of Melbourne at MONA. Photo: Cath Ringwood sits with Dr Nitschke at MONA's art installation featuring a euthanasia device. (ABC: Tyson Shine)
Voluntary euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has taken a swipe at religious organisations for trying to influence assisted dying legislation debate in Tasmania.
The state's Lower House is expected to resume debate later today on a bill co-sponsored by Premier Lara Giddings and Greens Leader Nick McKim.
Dr Nitschke is in Hobart for the debate but the bill looks likely to fail.
Today he visited Hobart's Museum of Old and new Art with Victorian cancer sufferer Cath Ringwood, who is considering moving from Melbourne to Tasmania if the bill succeeds.
Dr Nitschke says there have been no new arguments come out of the debate so far and it appears religion is playing a part in the legislation's expected failure.
"One has to believe that it's obviously the well-organised opposition from predominantly religious organisations who've been able to point out to politicians that if you vote for this legislation, you will attract the ire of the conservative Church and no politician wants that on their CV; that they are anti-church," he said.
Silk Road closure reportedly cuts off supply of drug for assisted suicides - The Verge 7Oct13
Silk Road closure reportedly cuts off supply of drug for assisted suicides
Patients seeking the euthanasia drug Nembutal must now go to Chinese chemical companies
By Adrianne Jeffries on October 7, 2013
The shutdown of Silk Road, the secret online marketplace for illegal drugs and other goods, may be having a grim side effect. The site was used by junkies and Timothy Leary types, but a doctor in Australia claims it was also an important resource for chronically ill patients pursuing euthanasia, or assisted suicide.
Euthanasia is illegal in many countries, but there are still doctors and advocates who will help distressed patients seeking voluntary death. Usually these patients are in so much pain, or their quality of life is so diminished, that they no longer want to live and prefer to exit on their own terms. Such patients were using Silk Road to purchase the lethal drug Nembutal and download copies of an ebook called The Peaceful Pill Handbook, says Australian right-to-die advocate Philip Nitschke. A search of the Silk Road forums confirmed that vendors were advertising Nembutal, which also has recreational uses.
The ebook, a euthanasia how-to guide that has been banned in New Zealand and Australia, is available on Amazon. The drug, however, is harder to get. Dr. Nitschke told The Age that he knew of at least 20 people who used Silk Road to clandestinely purchase Nembutal, the brand name for the lethal injection drug pentobarbital that induces respiratory failure. Patients seeking Nembutal will now have to buy it from Chinese chemical makers or wait for the drug to pop up on one of the newer virtual black markets. "The removal of the site will now mean that other less secure avenues will be pursued," Dr. Nitschke says.
My Own Choice - ABC 4 Corners 17Sep13
My Own Choice
ABC 4 Corners
By Liz Jackson and Mary Fallon
September 17, 2013 12:29:00
My Own Choice (Jay and Bertha Franklin)
"I don't want to do something irrational. You know, I don't want to hang myself. I don't want to shoot myself. I don't want to jump off a bridge. I don't want to run in front of a train 'cause that's suicide. This is not suicide what I plan to do." Jay
There are some questions we hope we will never have to answer. But what would you do if you suffered from a debilitating illness that left you in constant and severe pain? What would you do if the only way you could find relief was to take heavy duty pain killers that also impacted heavily on your physical health?
After 36 years struggling with that situation, a young man says he's had enough and he wants to end his own life. Because assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia are illegal in Australia he is forced to apply to an organisation in a foreign country to fulfil his wish.
Next on Four Corners reporter Liz Jackson tells Jay's story. She spends time with him finding out what his life has been like and how he lives day-to-day. She follows the path that has led him to his decision, and finds out what he thinks will be the consequences of his decision to die.
She is there as he discusses his decision with his family and friends. She is there as he seeks the documentation that will allow him to win medical approval for his plan.
Jay's story raises many questions: why doesn't society allow an individual with an incurable condition the right to seek assistance to end their own life? Is it right that a person is forced to go overseas to die in this way? And why don't our political representatives deal with the issue in an open and free manner?
"They haven't had to walk in my shoes for these past 36 years and they're not going through what I go through every day, you know, and it's not about them anyway at the end of the day. It's about me and me being able to make my own, my own choice." Jay
"My Own Choice", reported by Liz Jackson and presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 16th September at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 17th September at 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.
"My Own Choice" - Monday 16 September 2013
JAY FRANKLIN: I don't want to do something irrational. You know, I don't, I don't want to hang myself. I don't want to shoot myself. I don't want to jump off a bridge. I don't want to run in front of a train, 'cause that's suicide. This is not suicide, what I plan to do. It's totally different.
LIZ JACKSON: What is it?
JAY FRANKLIN: It's going out with some dignity.
LIZ JACKSON: You'll be the one that takes the drug though.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yes, certainly.
LIZ JACKSON: So you will be the one who ends your life.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yes, yep.
LIZ JACKSON: How will you be without him?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.
KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Trouble with euthanasia, welcome to Four Corners.
Back in 1995 Australia was the first country in the world to legalise voluntary euthanasia, albeit only in the Northern Territory. The law lasted just eight months before the Federal parliament voted it down.
Since then there have been attempts to introduce euthanasia law reform in every state and territory, except Queensland; some 30 attempts in all. Despite polling showing around 70 per cent support for some form of legalisation in Australia, every attempt has failed.
Frustrated by this lack of action, 15 Australians have chosen to travel to Switzerland, where they were legally assisted to die. The process is long, costly and fraught.
In tonight's Four Corners, Liz Jackson follows one young man's attempt to obtain what the Swiss call, the green light to go. It's an intimate, powerful and challenging story.
LIZ JACKSON, REPORTER: Bertha Franklin is getting ready for a photo shoot with her son Jay.
(Bertha and Jay getting ready for photo-shoot)
KYLIE BONNER, FRIEND [talking to Bertha]: You look beautiful Bertha.
LIZ JACKSON: They've never done this before, but were given a free voucher for a set of studio portraits for Christmas.
KYLIE BONNER [talking to Jay]: You didn't even shave you bum.
LIZ JACKSON: A present from their good friends Kylie and Damien.
VOX POP: And how do you fit into the whole...
KYLIE BONNER: We work together; her grandma and I worked together.
VOX POP: What do you do, or what did you do there?
KYLIE BONNER: I was nursing.
VOX POP: Nursing?
PHOTOGRAPHER: Let me just take a quick little test shot here, so don't waste all your smiles, yeah?
BERTHA FRANKLIN, MOTHER: Doesn't have many anyway.
LIZ JACKSON: Bertha doesn't have any recent family photos, and she wants some special ones as mementos of Jay.
PHOTOGRAPHER: And just glancing around towards each other for me please?
(Jay makes a funny noise, they laugh)
LIZ JACKSON: Immediate family has for the past fifteen years, been just Jay and Bertha.
PHOTGRAPHER: Nice and happy as well ok, just pretend that you like each other.
LIZ JACKSON: The studio has been told that Jay is sick and may not last the year. It's true but not the whole truth.
They've not been told that Jay is planning to go to Switzerland as soon as he can, so that he can be legally assisted to die. Without this assistance he could live for another thirty years.
LIZ JACKSON: You're a young man...
JAY FRANKLIN: Mmm...
LIZ JACKSON: You know, you're in your mid-thirties...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep...
LIZ JACKSON: You could live another twenty, thirty years...
JAY FRANKLIN: Thirty years, yep but I don't want to like this.
LIZ JACKSON: Can you be so confident that you wouldn't change your mind in ten years?
JAY FRANKLIN: No, no, yes sorry. Yes, I am confident, yep.
LIZ JACKSON: Because the two things that, one you're young and two you don't have a terminal illness...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah, yep, I understand that.
LIZ JACKSON: So what would you say to people who say it's...
JAY FRANKLIN: Well they haven't had to walk, they haven't had...
LIZ JACKSON: That's such a gift of life...
JAY FRANKLIN: They haven't, yeah but they haven't had to walk in my shoes for these past thirty-six years, and they're not going through what I go through every day, you know, and it's not about them anyway at the end of the day. It's about; it's about me and me being able to make my own, my own choice and what, what I want to do.
LIZ JACKSON: Jay Franklin was born on the thirtieth of December, 1976. At four days old he was rushed to the Children's Hospital. There was a problem.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: They told us he had this disease called Hirschsprung's disease.
LIZ JACKSON: Had you ever heard of it?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Never heard of it no, um so they explained quite, very well what it was and how it happened, when the baby is growing in the womb, there's these nerve endings that don't form in the bowel and so you don't have this peristalsis which moves the bowel action along, so it just doesn't work.
LIZ JACKSON: Essentially the bowel doesn't work.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Work.
LIZ JACKSON: So how old was he when he had his first operation?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Um fourteen, about fourteen days old.
LIZ JACKSON: From that day on, Jay has worn a colostomy bag, and from then until now he's been in and out of hospital.
[Bertha and Liz look at baby photos]
LIZ JACKSON: So this is gorgeous, how old is he here?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: He's about, I think he's about four; probably they're all about four.
LIZ JACKSON: Well there very cute, maybe, that one looks about the same, that one looks a little younger yeah?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah it does. This day this photo was taken, one of his nurses, with our permission, she came and took him to the zoo for the day. You know...
LIZ JACKSON: Well it looks like he's having a fabulous time.
He looks like a happy little toddler in the photographs.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Oh he was. He was always happy, a smiling, yeah, very, like even if he wasn't well he was still smiling. Quite astounding really I think.
LIZ JACKSON: So how much of his, his life do you think he spent in hospital?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Mm that's a very, in, in, I'd say in the first four years he may have spent, oh a third of his life perhaps.
LIZ JACKSON: Through primary school Jay managed well, but his health went downhill in his teenage years. It devastated his schooling.
JAY FRANKLIN: Year nine I lost about eight months, due to having a, an infection between the bowel and the bladder. Then in Year 10, I was in hospital for four months 'cause part of the bowel had died due to, all, all the antibiotics I was on. Done Year 11 not too bad and, then got to Year 12 and got to the end of the first term I think and, was, just started the second term and it was just too much. I just, I'd missed far too much school.
LIZ JACKSON: Jay has had a number of jobs since leaving school, call centre work being one, but recently he's found it harder to get and hold a job.
As his surgical scarring increased from his multiple operations he developed chronic pain. He's now unemployed.
LIZ JACKSON: How many operations do you reckon you would have had since 2001?
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh, I don't know, I must have lost count to be honest...
LIZ JACKSON: What? Five? Ten?
JAY FRANKLIN: I've, I've got...
LIZ JACKSON: Fifteen? Twenty?
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh...
LIZ JACKSON: Thirty?
JAY FRANKLIN: It might be twenty, fifteen, twenty, maybe, maybe more, yeah.
LIZ JACKSON: So have you been able to work at all in the last five years...
JAY FRANKLIN: Not since, I haven't been able to work full time since 2000 and I haven't worked since two thousand and, 2007.
LIZ JACKSON: And that's because?
JAY FRANKLIN: Just because the pain's been too bad and I just haven't been well enough to work.
(Jay in his home)
JAY FRANKLIN: Morning.
LIZ JACKSON: It's the first morning we've gone to Jay Franklin's home. He lives with his mother out near Melbourne airport.
BERTHA FRANKLIN [talking to a friend]: It's hard for them to understand.
LIZ JACKSON: Jay is having an average start to the day, it's around 10 am.
(Jay taking his medications)
Jay can you tell me what they are, why you're taking them?
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep okay, this first one I took is OxyNorm liquid. It's a, it's a very strong pain relief. And the other one I'm just taking is some diazepam which is, like, Valium. It's a relaxant. Just to help me relax when my pain's bad.
LIZ JACKSON: Jay has been attending a pain clinic on and off for years, but has not found a solution to his pain.
He's recently gone public about wanting to fly to Switzerland where the law allows those who are suffering unbearable and uncontrollable pain, to be assisted to die.
He dreads another operation for a major bowel obstruction which next time could kill him.
JAY FRANKLIN: It's, it's going to happen, at some stage that I get a full bowel obstruction and I don't want to go out that way.
LIZ JACKSON: Can you talk to me about why, why you feel that way?
JAY FRANKLIN: Why? Because it's, um, it's not, not very pleasant to have a bowel obstruction. I mean you're vomiting all the time, you're in really, really severe pain. I mean they'd probably have to put a tube down my nose and that way it just stops you from vomiting. It just draws all the fluid that's in the bowel because it can't get out because the bowel's blocked so that just drains the fluid away, um, but you're still very, very sick and it's just not, it's, wouldn't be a nice way to go. I want to go out with some, with some dignity after all these, after all these years.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: I want, he said to me I want to make my own decision about it, not that I get that sick and I can't make a decision. But in this last year it's been very in the forefront of his thinking that if he could do something he, it's, and I, as much as, look you're only child and you're having to have this conversation but, just for your own selfishness you can't be saying to him oh don't do this. It's, it would be terribly selfish I think.
LIZ JACKSON: So have you talked to any of your specialists about it?
JAY FRANKLIN: About going to Switzerland? The surgeons obviously know because of the articles that have been out in the papers, so they, yeah, they know about it.
LIZ JACKSON: Have you spoken with them about it?
JAY FRANKLIN: Not, not in depth but I mean...
LIZ JACKSON: Because?
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh not for any particular reason just I mean, it was pretty obvious from the articles what, what I wanted and, yeah, but they didn't try and talk me out of it or anything. I mean they were sad. They were sad about it, but yeah. And they just, they, you know, they just kept asking me, you know, is this really what I, what I want and I said, 'Yes it is, if there's nothing more you can offer, you know, surgically to fix me permanently then, you know, enough's enough'.
(Jay, Damian, Bertha and Kylie sitting in backyard)
LIZ JACKSON: It sunny in the backyard and Damian and Kylie have dropped around.
They're comfortable to talk about Jason's decision; they've known him for years.
DAMIAN BONNER: The first time I met Jay was sixteen years ago, and I actually met him in the Austin, which is not the way you want to meet people but, he's one of Kylie's best friends and, we went in to see him and all he did was wake up and he looked at me and said, 'Who's this tall prick?'. That was his first words 'cause he, oh he didn't, he'd never met me before and that but, yeah, got to know him over the years and, yeah, support him a hundred per cent.
Seen half his battle, as I said, he's thirty-six, I've only seen half of it but, yeah, hard to, first time I spoke to him about it, it was really confronting but, even though I supported him but to, to know what he's going through and what he wants to achieve but, yeah, um, yeah, do anything to help him and, his mum's been amazing.
KYLIE BONNER: I have known Jay for, for so long. I've, that to see what he's doing now, it actually makes me proud and extremely happy because there's some light at the end of his pain tunnel that he's never been able to get before and as hard as it is for me on the selfish side, you have to put that aside because it's not about how I feel. It's about supporting Jay and I do that a 100 per cent, 110 per cent. I would hold his hand right to the end and he knows that so yeah, sorry [begins to cry].
(Jay begins to cry)
DAMIAN BONNER: You didn't cry for me you bitch.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: It's a beautiful relationship really.
(Everyone in the kitchen)
KYLIE BONNER: Where do you want me to put 'em? Just on that plate there?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah just on this...
LIZ JACKSON: Kylie and Bertha are making lunch for everyone, although there's not a lot of food that Jay can digest.
[Bertha and Kylie chat]
KYLIE BONNER: So you sure you're ok?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah I'm alright, I just, I suppose it's alright when you're just, like yourself, talking about things. But when it's other people as well, it kind of, over
KYLIE BONNER: That just sort of brings it back to reality doesn't it?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: It does.
KYLIE BONNER: Yeah.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: You know.
KYLIE BONNER: While you're, like while it's just you.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah, it's like you're not thinking about it too much.
KYLIE BONNER: Yeah just when you're not, but then when you think oh yeah ok so...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: So anyway, but look, you know me. Just soldier on, we have to, we have to soldier on.
KYLIE BONNER: Yeah but you know, you can't soldier on all the time.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah.
(Everyone sitting around the kitchen table talking)
KYLIE BONNER: I was on hold for about 30 minutes. Because I was sitting on the , in our room on our bed, and I said to Darro, I was sitting there thinking about how we used to ring you Dr Phil, it worked though.
LIZ JACKSON: When you have a nice day, say like yesterday...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah.
LIZ JACKSON: When your friends came around...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep.
LIZ JACKSON: And they're really fond of you and you have...
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh very.
LIZ JACKSON: And you have a laugh together...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah.
LIZ JACKSON: Does that make you think, 'Maybe I'll stick around a bit more'?
JAY FRANKLIN: No I can't, no and then I, they can't, they, they wouldn't ask me to stick around for that either.
(Jay says goodbye to Kylie and Damian as they leave)
LIZ JACKSON: But Jay has a long way to go before he can think about booking air tickets to Switzerland, the only country in the world where a foreign national who is not terminally ill can within days of arrival be legally assisted to suicide.
The Swiss facility is called Dignitas and if Jay can make it, he will be the sixteenth Australian to die there. But there's a process to follow, criteria to be met, and a fee to be paid - around $12,000. Money that Jay and Bertha do not have.
JAY FRANKLIN: Obviously I'm not in a financial position to be able to finance this myself, so we're, you know, waiting as, seeing what sort of donations we get from the general public.
LIZ JACKSON: And how are you going about that?
JAY FRANKLIN: Philip's been running these workshops, fundraisers as, for me as well, to try and raise money. He's been telling my story and showing the articles and stuff and, you know, trying to raise as much money as possible.
(Sound of crowd talking at workshop)
LIZ JACKSON: The Philip who is helping Jay is Dr Philip Nitschke, the well-known euthanasia advocate, and founder of Exit International.
He's up in Queensland to hold a workshop outlining for these folk the methods they could use to end their lives.
DR PHILIP NITSCHK, DIRECTOR OF EXIT INTERNATIONAL: In fact it's the only book banned in Australia in the last 35 years.
LIZ JACKSON: He's focussing on the lethal drug Nembutal, and a nitrogen tank device, both of which could swiftly do the job.
While suicide is legal, assisting a suicide carries a life sentence here in the Sunshine State. Past cases suggest that just being present (holding a hand) could be enough to trigger a criminal prosecution of family or friends anywhere in Australia - it's a risk.
[Dr Nitschke lecture]
DR PHILIP NITSCHK: They really don't know, there's a feeling that you can be with someone. As long as you don't physically help them take this step, but our advice generally is to say look, if it's gonna happen, be with the person that you want to be with, of course you should. But perhaps you should say you were in the next room when you call the doctor, I went in and oh it looks like my husband has ended his life.
Rather than saying oh I was there...
LIZ JACKSON: The Gold Coast venue is packed with people keen to learn about all the options. Dr Nitschke tells them about Jay Franklin.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Jay Franklin is a 35-year-old from Melbourne who's suffering and has been suffering really from the day he was born with Hirschsprung's disease. Most of his bowel has been removed, associated with surgical procedures. He's finally got to the point where he's said he has had enough. And supported by his mother Bertha there, alongside him, he's decided that he wants to go overseas to have a peaceful death.
It's quite hard for him. They don't have a great deal of reserves or resources to make this trip. And of course, the Swiss option is not cheap. First of all you've got to get an airline to take you to Switzerland. And the fees in the Swiss, in the Dignitas organisation are around about $12,000. I've written a letter on this green sheet of paper which I hope you have a chance to pick up if you haven't already, and read the letter, which is basically me asking you to be generous in a campaign to try and raise the money for Jay. Exit [International] has also said that we will go dollar for dollar for any donations you make.
Although the legislation that they're trying to pass...
LIZ JACKSON: Dr Nitschke is aware his support for Jay is controversial, as Jay is not dying.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: No I don't have any concerns about that. I used to think that people had to be terminally ill in the times of the back in 1996 when I first got involved in this issue. Nowadays intolerable suffering is a good enough criteria for me, and that can be coming from a number of forms. Some, sometimes from medical conditions as in the case of Jay, sometimes from other reasons.
So I don't have any trouble. He's a, he's an adult; he's a person who's had a lot of time to consider this. This is not a rash, impetuous decision. There's not a hint that he's suffering from psy- some psychiatric condition, which is distorting his thought processes. He knows exactly what's involved, I'm not going to come along and say no I disagree or anything like that. I would actual, I do actually agree with his decision. If he wants to do that I think it's important to make sure it's possible.
LIZ JACKSON: Tell me how you met Philip Nitschke.
JAY FRANKLIN: Well obviously I'd heard about him over the years on, on the media and stuff and, um, a few years ago I went to one of his workshops and then, and then, last year I decided to, you know, finally take that next step and try and make contact with him personally and see what, what he, you know, what he could offer, [coughs] excuse me, and then, you know, an offer came up possibly to, to go to Switzerland so, so yeah he's just been running around and trying to find information out and, and that for me. So he's been really great and really supportive, yeah he's been fantastic.
LIZ JACKSON: Do you know he's a controversial figure?
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh yeah [laughs], very passionate, very, very passionate and yeah, I know he's controversial, but yeah, but that's Philip.
LIZ JACKSON: Dr Nitschke is currently being investigated by the Medical Board of Australia.
Here he's arriving at his favourite pub in Adelaide to promote the uses of his nitrogen device to put gas in your beer, pump up your tyres, as well as ending your life.
(Sound of pub music and people talking)
BARTENDER: [talking about the beer] We've got 70 per cent nitrogen and 30 percent C02, which gives it a creamier, fuller body.
PUB PATRON 1: [addressing Philip] I have to say that we admire your work.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Thank you.
PUB PATRON 2: Yeah we do.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: That's great, I hope this works out because, the whole idea of the nitrogen here tonight is because of the way they, the Medical Board are trying to say that I've developed a system which is only for using, for people who end their lives. And of course nitrogen is used for a lot of things, including putting it in beer.
[Pumping up a bike tyre outside] And what pressure do you normally have them at?
BICYCLE OWNER: I think they're 120, I reckon.
(Sound of air coming from bicycle tyre)
LIZ JACKSON: Allegations have been made to the Medical Board that Dr Nitschke has attempted to facilitate the supply of the lethal drug Nembutal, and is marketing a nitrogen device solely for the purpose of suicide.
The devices are outside in the back of his van.
(Philip opening the back of his van and talking to a man with him)
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Have you got a car here?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Ok.
LIZ JACKSON: Dr Nitschke denies the allegations, and stands by what he does.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Ok, thank you.
MAN: Nice to meet you anyway.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: [shakes man's hand] Good on you.
MAN: Thank you.
LIZ JACKSON: Are you considering at all curbing what you do?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: No, I'm not considering curbing what I do. I don't want to lose my medical registration over it, but I think it's too important to provide these options for people and I'm getting growing numbers of people all the time really clamouring for this information, so it's a, there's a need out there and it needs to be met and I would not like to think that I've got to lose my medical registration to serve that need, but if it has to be, it has to be. But I'm certainly not going to roll over and just say alright, I'll be, I'll be objecting to this all the way.
(At Jay and Bertha's house)
LIZ JACKSON: The next time we visit Jay and Bertha, friends had cooked them dinner the night before.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: We had a lovely night.
LIZ JACKSON: Yeah? Jason had a bad night though?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: His pain yes, he tried to eat a little bit of stuff and you know, then you...
LIZ JACKSON: What happens when he eats a bit of, what last night at the dinner?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah, and then you know, then his pain...cause you try and eat, you got to you know ... and he just had a bad night, one of the bad nights, so he's just a bit slow this morning, but anyway we're up, [laughs] you haven't come and found us in bed.
LIZ JACKSON: No I hope not, now let's just see how Jason is.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Did you want a cuppa or something before you?
LIZ JACKSON: Oh a cuppa would be lovely actually.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: I'll put the kettle on.
LIZ JACKSON: Do you want me to do it?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: No, no, we'll have a cuppa. Ron would you like a cuppa?
RON: Yeah, thank you.
JAY FRANKLIN: Morning.
LIZ JACKSON: Feeling crook?
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah not the best, I'll just be a few minutes.
LIZ JACKSON: Yeah take your time.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: The Pope resigned this morning.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah I heard.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: [laughs] He's very interested.
JAY FRANKLIN: I'll sleep tonight, seeing I know that now.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: [laughs] Oh Jay. When the Pope, the last Pope was here, her son drove him round and they've got photos on the wall, like of, you know, with the last Pope, whoever he was.
LIZ JACKSON: John.
JAY FRANKLIN: I think Paul the 2nd.
LIZ JACKSON: Paul the 2nd?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: yeah and Ryan was telling us last week, it was quite interesting driving him round.
JAY FRANKLIN: I just need probably five or ten minutes.
LIZ JACKSON: Yeah no worries, no worries, just take your time.
JAY FRANKLIN: So I had a bad night.
LIZ JACKSON: Couldn't sleep?
JAY FRANKLIN: This pain, yeah. I've been up most of the night, so.
LIZ JACKSON: We'll just sit down and see to make sure.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah I'll just be five or ten minutes, then I'll be alright.
LIZ JACKSON: Ok.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: We'll sit and have a cup of tea.
LIZ JACKSON: That would be lovely.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Sit over here, how's that.
LIZ JACKSON: Sounds good to me.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: This morning he could have stayed in bed all day if you weren't coming. Just, his pain was really bad when he got up. He just can't function. He just, it's hard to explain but he just, it's like he can't do anything. He either lays in bed or lays on a couch and just listens to his, I mean luckily music is one of his favourite things and he, you know listens to his music in between dozing or whatever and just doesn't go out of the house.
LIZ JACKSON: Jay has been downloading material about the Dignitas organisation, based near Zurich.
[Jay and Bertha discuss the Dignitas facility]
JAY FRANKLIN: Even from what I've seen on like, different stuff, groups come across on Youtube and stuff about it, I mean it does look nice, doesn't it?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: It does.
LIZ JACKSON: Did you watch any of those documentaries?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah.
LIZ JACKSON: You watched the documentaries about folk who go to Dignitas?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yeah. It looks very, peaceful, you know, and you're asked you know, at least three times, do you want to take this? It's not like take it, you know like, it's just so, it's your decision.
LIZ JACKSON: What's your feeling about...
JAY FRANKLIN: Exactly what just what mum just said, yeah that's how I felt as soon as I saw it. There was no, there was no pressure, there was no you know, they just kept reassuring the patient after he'd you know, what would happen and, and just kept asking him if that's what he wanted to do.
LIZ JACKSON: Is that important to you? Is it important that you feel at every point that you can make an honest decision...
JAY FRANKLIN: At some point pull out?
LIZ JACKSON: Yeah.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah.
LIZ JACKSON: You feel totally comfortable doing that?
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep, yep.
(Bertha, Jay and Liz in the car)
LIZ JACKSON: So how long does the drive take?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Good...
JAY FRANKLIN: Good 20 minutes.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Yep.
LIZ JACKSON: How many times have you done this drive?
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: How many dollars would you like? [laughs]
LIZ JACKSON: In the afternoon, Jay and Bertha head out to the Austin Hospital.
Jay needs a psychiatric report stating he has the capacity to make sound decisions about his health before Dignitas will assist him to die.
JAY FRANKLIN: I need an evaluation basically to say that I'm of sound mind of making this decision on going to Zurich, that's what I need.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Because they need that over there.
LIZ JACKSON: Yeah, they have to be sure that you know what you're doing.
JAY FRANKLIN: Because of the depression part.
LIZ JACKSON: Dignitas is reluctant to take people who are found to be suffering from depression.
JAY FRANKLIN: Mmm...
LIZ JACKSON: Is that an issue in your case?
JAY FRANKLIN: I don't think so because I've been told it's, not your typical clinical depression. It's reactive depression to, to everything I've been through. Um...
LIZ JACKSON: So are you on anti-depressants?
JAY FRANKLIN: I am. I'm not at the, I'm not at the moment. Um, I've gone off them at the moment because, I just wanted to see how I'd feel without being off, you know, being off them. I spoke to my GP about it and I said to her, you know, "At this stage I don't feel any different from when I was on them to now I'm not being on them". So I'm just going to give it a couple more weeks and just wait and see. I'll talk to her again when I see her in a months' time.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: In the case of Jay, what we will need to do, and we're already looking into that now, is to get a contemporary psychiatric record to show that his thought processes are not being interfered with by what may have been pre-existing depressive states as he contemplated his pretty, pretty miserable prognosis associated with his condition.
(Liz visits Jay and Bertha)
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Come in.
LIZ JACKSON: Hi, hi.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Come in out the...
LIZ JACKSON: Out of the heat, yeah thanks.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Welcome.
LIZ JACKSON: Two weeks have passed since our last visit, and there's a heat wave on in Melbourne, it's 36 degrees.
Bertha has the lights off and the blinds down to keep it that little bit cooler inside.
There's been little progress yet on getting the psychiatric report. Several psychiatrists shied away once they knew why it was wanted.
Jay is hoping a psychiatrist at the Austin Hospital will help.
JAY FRANKLIN: The psychiatrist said to Philip, if you can get Jason's GP to do a referral...
LIZ JACKSON: Do a referral asking for the psychiatric assessment?
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah.
LIZ JACKSON: Jay's GP has done the referral, but Jay is still waiting for the Austin to respond. It's his GP's view that Jay is no longer depressed.
LIZ JACKSON: She's reluctant to appear on camera but she's told me that she's fine with us saying that she was saddened by your decision, but she stood by your right to make it and she knows from treating you over the years that it's a considered decision.
JAY FRANKLIN: Mmmhmm.
LIZ JACKSON: And a decision that she assesses that you're competent to make.
JAY FRANKLIN: Mmm.
LIZ JACKSON: Are you surprised that she's...
JAY FRANKLIN: Not at all, no.
LIZ JACKSON: So you've talked directly with her about it ...
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh in yeah, yeah, lots.
LIZ JACKSON: Collecting the money that Jay will need has proved to be less problematic. Dr Nitschke has distributed hundreds of forms asking for donations.
LIZ JACKSON: Jay to Dignitas. And what, what's been the response?
JAY FRANKLIN: Well we've received, how much?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Eight.
JAY FRANKLIN: About $8000, so far.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: But in the last three weeks, there's only been one day that he hasn't got mail and it's all been fairly like, some small donations, like $25 or 30, or $50, but we have since like, that mail that came over the Christmas period, it's $8000.
LIZ JACKSON: And how do you feel about that?
JAY FRANKLIN: Um, a bit embarrassed to be honest, taking fr-, money from people that, you know, you don't even know but, you know, it's a very, generous offer from the people that have donated so far.
[Calling out to Bertha in kitchen] Ma, can we get some stamps please.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: There's some behind you, but I've got...
LIZ JACKSON: Another two weeks has passed. Jay is sending out personal letters thanking the people who have given him money to help him on his way.
The first $800 paid for Jay's membership of Dignitas, the next 3,000 is for a Swiss doctor to check his medical reports to see if Dignitas can give Jay what's called "the green light" to go.
Dr Nitschke has come, to help Jay sort things out.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Hello.
JAY FRANKLIN: Hi.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: How you going?
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah so, so. Been better.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Oh well, I found the place.
JAY FRANKLIN: No use, no use complaining.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: No, there's no use complaining...
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh what's this?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: I found, I got a bit lost actually...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Oh did you?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: It's a miracle, a miracle I'm here on time. Shall I sit here?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Sit, yeah, sit wherever. Would you like a cup of tea or a coffee?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Yeah a cup of tea would be good.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: The first thing of course and this is the necessary step is to try and is to try and get the green light, to try and get there, and that'll, you've got enough money to do that. They want $3,000. They'll assess you and then when everything's in place, then I think it's a matter of you determining your timing, when you want to go, if you want to go...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah I want to go.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: All of that's opened then because you've got...
JAY FRANKLIN: As soon as I get the green light and everything and we've got enough money I want to...
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: I was going to ask you about that.
JAY FRANKLIN: I want to do it.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Yeah cause you, well...
JAY FRANKLIN: I don't want to keep, you know, dragging it out...
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: I know but once you've got the green light you do have the option of not worrying about, you don't have to worry about it...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah, yeah...
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: In terms of, and you could go whenever you wanted. Now I suppose what you seem to be saying is that if you got the green light tomorrow, you'd go tomorrow.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Alright well okay well we'll, we've got to move on now as far as that, as far as the process of getting your green light...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: In position is done and then of course the necessary things there are I want to go through your medical records and work out what we send.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Cause I'll be packaging up your medical stuff and then there's the non-medical stuff which I presume you've pretty well got.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah passports and all that, that's all in the process...
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: All those other bits and pieces...
JAY FRANKLIN: We're just waiting on our passports now...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Um milk and sugar Philip?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: No just black please, just black, no sugar. Okay alright and then of course the med, from the medical point of view it's the, it's the psychiatric report.
So when is that appointment? That's today some time?
JAY FRANKLIN: Today, this afternoon.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Oh okay. You might ask her how long is it going to take.
JAY FRANKLIN: I will.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Without trying to, she will, she knows...
LIZ JACKSON: It's been six weeks since Jay first requested a psychiatric report from the Austin Hospital.
Jay and Bertha continue to prepare themselves to go.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Alright. Any questions? Anything you've got? Any worries...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: No.
JAY FRANKLIN: How long are you usually in Zurich before it happens?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Well it can be as short as you want because, when you make arrangements with them, you get the green light and you say I would like an assisted suicide and they, they will say well um when do you want it? And you will say at this time or on this day and they will then say well you should get to Zurich the day before or something like that. They will give you a sort of a timeframe...
JAY FRANKLIN: Okay.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: But it can be as short as forty-eight hours from arrival to death.
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: My other thing is um, about the ashes.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Yes.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: I don't want to come home without them.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: No now that...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: So what happens about that?
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: I will find out for you but it it's, the cremation is fairly quick, I think we're talking a couple of days. After John Elliott died he was cremated and he had the desire to have his ashes spread out on, he was actually from Europe and he wanted his ashes spread in the, in the Alps there close to Zurich and we went out there...
JAY FRANKLIN: It's alright mum.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Went out in a vehicle...
JAY FRANKLIN: It's alright mum.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: It was, it was in a day or two...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: I've got a reason for asking too cause I want to... Jason wants some...My great grandfather came from Berne.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Oh okay.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: So Jason wants some of his ashes sprinkled there.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: Okay.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: And my niece said oh that's only a train ride away.
DR PHILIP NITSCHKE: It is. It is. So you would, yes so you would be able to do that within a few days.
[Bertha is crying]
So any, there may be all sorts of things you think of but just, don't sit around worrying about it, just ring us, pick, pick up the phone or send me an email.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep.
LIZ JACKSON: Do you worry about the impact it'll have on your mother?
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah of course I do, that's one of my biggest worries. Both psychological and, and, and legally, if there's any legal repercussions for when she gets, when she gets home.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: I don't think there will be any legal implications, but I suppose it is in the back of your mind. But I've, I've got broad enough shoulders and I'll be on a soapbox. [laughs] You know, they could try and you know, but I actually haven't forced Jason to take that medication and we're not in Australia anyway, and maybe it's illegal here but we're going somewhere where it's legal, so how could they charge me with anything?
LIZ JACKSON: Another four weeks pass before we come back again.
The psychiatric report from the Austin Hospital has finally arrived. It'd been referred up to the CEO at the Austin, and been twice through their legal department. It's signed by the consultant psychiatrist at the outpatient service.
It says what Jay needs it to say, that is:
[Reading out from the psychiatric report] "I do not believe that Jason was clinically depressed or suffering from any overt psychiatric condition that might affect his judgement on the occasions I saw him and I believe he has the capacity to make decisions regarding his future care..."
It does however add:
"... whilst I have the deepest sympathy for his physical and psychological suffering ... I need to state that euthanasia is illegal in Victoria and therefore I cannot support his course of action."
LIZ JACKSON: So tell me, Jay, now that you've got the report ...
JAY FRANKLIN: Yep.
LIZ JACKSON: Now the it says that you're competent to make these decisions...
JAY FRANKLIN: Mmm.
LIZ JACKSON: What's the next step?
JAY FRANKLIN: Philip just has to send off everything to Switzerland and then I suppose they assess all my paperwork and if they're going to give me the green light to go ahead. So it's just a matter of waiting again now.
LIZ JACKSON: And have you had any more thoughts about what you might do once you get the green light?
JAY FRANKLIN: Um...I thought I'd go straight away but just, just things yeah, I just, I just don't know if I will act on it immediately. I mean it might be this year, but...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: It's up to Jason to make his own mind. He's sort of a bit, well, say why you...
JAY FRANKLIN: Oh you say it, it's...
BERTHA FRANKLIN: He's been a bit apprehensive, like he just was worried now that you know I've lost my sister recently, and he felt that it was just too much for me to be losing him in the same year. But I, as I've said to him, it's not about everybody else; it's about his decision. It may sound like I am... I'm not trying to push him into this. What I'm trying to say is that this is his decision and that he can't put his life on hold for other people.
LIZ JACKSON: Yeah.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: That, that's all I'm sort of saying.
LIZ JACKSON: But if you've got any, any doubts or any reasons it's best to, to think about it, because it's not a decision you can go back on.
JAY FRANKLIN: No, no. no. That's what my friend said. You know, he said once you've made this decision you go through with it, there's no coming back from it.
BERTHA FRANKLIN: But you've known that all along.
JAY FRANKLIN: Yeah, yeah. It's not it's not that I'm thinking of not doing it, not going through with it, it's just when like am I, I know you're right in what you're saying.
(Looking at photos from the photography shoot on the wall)
LIZ JACKSON: Got a favourite?
JAY FRANKLIN: I love the middle one.
LIZ JACKSON: When we talk later it's clear that Jay is feeling the weight of the decision that is now on his mind.
[Talking to Jay] It's not easy.
JAY FRANKLIN: No, it's not easy. And I, you know I don't want to suffer for another 36 years. Keep going on the way I'm going.
LIZ JACKSON: But the alternative is not a great alternative either.
JAY FRANKLIN: No, nah.
LIZ JACKSON: Have you been thinking about it?
JAY FRANKLIN: No, I try not to think about it. I have, I have my moments. But yeah I think I've made up, it's not like you know, it's not like I woke up yesterday and decided this, so you know this is something I've been thinking about for the past couple of years. So ... it's just a matter of what th- just the waiting game.
(Liz visiting Bertha and Jay again)
LIZ JACKSON: Hello, is that Bertha?
BERTHA FRANKLIN: Good afternoon.
LIZ JACKSON: Hi, I haven't seen you for ages.
LIZ JACKSON: One week ago we returned.
Jay has just received the crucial email from Switzerland, giving him the provisional green light to go.
[Reading from a the letter from Dignitas] Dear Mr Franklin:
"Please be advised that a medical doctor cooperating with us considers an accompanied suicide to be justified in your case ..."
Jay can now choose when and whether he wants to make the final trip.
JAY FRANKLIN: I'm just happy that, you know, I know that option's there, for when things get too much.
LIZ JACKSON: That's-
JAY FRANKLIN: It's like it's, you know, it's like I've got it, it's in the cupboard, and just knowing that is I feel a peace, peace of mind.
KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Dignitas reports that in fact a substantial majority of people who get the green light do not proceed with an assisted suicide. Quote, "That simply knowing the option is there renders them able to further endure life and even to enjoy it."
Our thanks to Jay and Bertha Franklin for letting us into their lives at such a challenging time.
Next week on Four Corners we look at a renewed fight against corruption in Papua New Guinea. And whether Australia will help or hinder it.
Until then, good night.
Hundreds risk jail to import illegal drug promoted by euthanasia campaigners - ABC Lateline 14Sep13
Hundreds risk jail to import illegal drug promoted by euthanasia campaigners
By Sashka Koloff
Sat 14 Sep 2013,
Video: Australians importing illegal euthanasia drug (Lateline)
Photo: Powdered barbiturate nembutal is being imported illegally into Australia. (ABC)
A lethal drug promoted by euthanasia campaigners as a peaceful way to die is easily being illegally imported into Australia.
Known as the "peaceful pill", barbiturate Nembutal is promoted by the euthanasia movement as the best and most peaceful way to end your life.
Most have bought the illicit drug online from China, a country that in the last two years has come to dominate the market.
The drug kills within an hour of being consumed.
"There are very few lethal drugs and the best lethal drug is Nembutal," euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke told a recent workshop.
"I've been with a lot of people who have died using this drug, it just seemed to get into to a deeper and deeper sleep and then finally stop breathing.
"And for those watching they see this as the most peaceful of deaths, it certainly looks to be.
"Be careful, because it's illegal."
The penalty for importing or possessing Nembutal is a prison sentence or a fine of up to $825,000.
Dr Nitschke says hundreds of Australians have illegally brought the drug into the country over the past couple of years.
The Australian Federal Police have told the ABC's Lateline program that they have seized almost 15 kilograms of the drug since 2007.
But so far, no one has been convicted.
Nembutal easily ordered by terminally ill online
Mexico used to dominate the market but now most Nembutal is bought over the internet from China.
Increasingly, there are reports of internet scams and Lateline has spoken to several people who have lost hundreds of dollars trying to buy Nembutal online.
ACT Senate candidate Philip Nitschke. Photo: Dr Philip Nitschke tests imported nembutal for quality assurance. (Supplied)
Arriving in flat packed envelopes, Chinese Nembutal comes in the form of a white powder, and Dr Nitschke says people are worried about its quality.
"People obtain this white powder in envelopes from China and they're concerned in a way that I never saw, the same concern with the South American product," he said.
"They worry that maybe there's someone selling them something that is contaminated or not pure or maybe cheating them completely and selling them castor sugar or something."
To combat concerns, Dr Nitschke has set up a mobile testing laboratory, and he says there is a long queue of people across Australia waiting to use it.
"I think we can say the vast majority, all except one, have shown to be exactly what they've purported to be, so in other words high quality Nembutal," he said.
Dr Nitschke has tested the Nembutal which terminal cancer patient David illegally imported earlier this year.
David says the drug was easy to obtain online and he was not fearful of any legal consequences.
I sent an email requesting a sample, I received a reply asking me to forward $US360 and I duly arranged that, and two weeks later, my package arrived through the mail.
Terminal cancer patient David
"At 81 years of age, I don't think that crossed my mind. If they want to jail me, well I think that would be a very stupid action," he said.
"I sent an email requesting a sample, I received a reply asking me to forward $US360 and I duly arranged that, and two weeks later, my package arrived through the mail."
David says knowing he now has a choice is a comfort.
"Euthanasia goes against what most of us believe in, but you've got to say 'OK, there are other people there, who have a problem, so why not give them the right to decide'," he said.
"Sorry, I want out of here."
Nembutal link to a Sydney woman's suicide
David bought his Nembutal from a supplier listed in Dr Nitschke's book The Peaceful Pill Handbook.
The book is also banned in Australia, but for $80 you can buy online access to the publication.
Dr Nitchske's group also produces instructional videos for those considering euthanasia.
In one tragic case, a young Sydney woman who was not terminally ill but suffering from depression accessed this information.
She also attempted to buy Nembutal online, but lost her money.
In May, the 30-year-old committed suicide.
Her family told Lateline: "The internet is a tool and has many good uses, but when vulnerable people can so easily get hold of information and videos that can do a great deal of harm, it can be devastating."
However, Dr Nitschke defended this advocacy, saying the dissemination of euthanasia material information should not be banned simply because it is used for purposes other than those he intended.
"It's an age-old question about censorship," he said.
"I can't guarantee where the information is going to, but I don't think that's a good reason for stopping giving out information."
But the chairman of the Federal Government's advisory council on suicide prevention, Professor Ian Webster, disagrees.
There's a very fundamental principle in medicine, primum non nocere, a Latin statement for 'above all do no harm', so no action that a physician or a surgeon or a doctor should take, should increase the likelihood of harm.
Professor Ian Webster
"I don't think that's an acceptable risk," he said.
"There's a very fundamental principle in medicine, primum non nocere, a Latin statement for 'above all do no harm', so no action that a physician or a surgeon or a doctor should take, should increase the likelihood of harm.
"It's a very difficult balance to strike.
"Overwhelmingly I put my weight on preventing suicide and against promoting suicide methods to elements of the population which are at high risk."
Dr Nitschke is currently facing two investigations by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency over claims he is not a fit and proper person to hold medical registration, but he says losing his licence will not stop his work.
"In a practical sense it would make very little difference, because of the growing demand if you like, of a growing or increasing number of elderly people who are demanding control over the end of their own life," he said.
It's my business how I end my life: the former judge who flouts the law - The Guardian 25Oct13
It's my business how I end my life: the former judge who flouts the law
Friday 25 October 2013
As Gough Whitlam's attorney general, he was Australia's first law officer. Today he and his wife keep his and hers jars of the banned drug Nembutal for the day they decide they want to die
Kep Enderby Kep Enderby, 87, says euthanasia is a civil liberties issue. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Guardian Australia
They keep it hidden, but close by. Two jars of Nembutal. One for him and one for her. When, and if, the time comes, they say they’ll swallow what some call the “peaceful pill”, drift off to sleep and die within an hour. Possession of the lethal drug is illegal; an ironic twist given that one of them is the former attorney general of Australia.
Kep Enderby sits with his wife Dot in a Sydney living room overlooking the sea. He fiddles with his walking stick and looks up. “I’ve thought about it a lot,” he says. “I’m suffering a lot. I’m not as active as I used to be – you can see this bloody stick. I’m a geriatric and I’m not enjoying life at all.”
Dot sits patiently.
“Euthanasia is a civil liberties issue,” Kep continues, “If I want to end my life, it’s my business.”
Does he not see the contradiction that a former first law officer of the crown, under the government of Gough Whitlam no less, is committing a criminal act?
Kep, 87, is fervent. “I think it’s a bad law, there’s no justification for it. But you’re quite right, we shouldn’t have it. That’s the truth of the matter. The law can often be unjust.”
He speaks for a while, drifting between case studies from his time as a supreme court judge in New South Wales which emphasise his libertarian point. Eventually Dot interjects.
A calmer voice: “The thing with Nembutal is, when you have access to it, you don’t sit down and make a plan … It’s something you have ... something you know is there when you really need it.”
Kep and Dot Enderby Kep and Dot Enderby: they celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Guardian Australia
Procurement of the drug has been made more difficult in recent weeks since the closure of the black-market drug website Silk Road.
Dr Philip Nitschke, director of the euthanasia advocacy group Exit International – a group the Enderbys support – described the site’s closure as “devastating”. "Our elderly members appreciated the comfort that came from knowing that their transactions were private," he said this month, warning: “The removal of the site will now mean that other less secure avenues will be pursued."
The Enderbys won’t tell me where they got their two jars from.
Dot met Kep in 1960. He was a divorced 38-year-old law lecturer at the Australian National University in Canberra, drunk on the works of Marx and the anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin. She was a 35-year-old college librarian raised in the traditions of the Labor party but without an active interest in politics.
Kep spotted Dot first. It was at morning tea in the common room.
“I confess all I saw in Dot at the beginning was a beautiful bloody woman,” he says. “I wanted to bed her.”
Dot laughs. “Well, I was otherwise taken at that stage,” she says. A courtship began, and within four years they were married. He moved into politics six years later. They celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year.
Dot and Kep concede they don’t know exactly how they’ll use the Nembutal. Perhaps, they say, it will be sipped simultaneously, then they will lie on the couch and drift off. But sometimes Kep has bad days and thinks about taking it alone.
“I’d get up out of bed in the night time, get the Nembutal from where I know it is, swallow it and Dot would find me on the couch or something.”
How would Dot feel to wake up and find him?
“Well it’s his right to do it if he wants to. If he feels he’s at that stage,” she says, unflinching.
The debate surrounding voluntary euthanasia has picked up once again in Australia. Only last week a legalisation bill narrowly failed in the Tasmanian parliament, voted down by 13-11. This despite polling suggesting 80% of people in the state supported it. In recent years state parliaments in New South Wales and Western Australia have rejected similar legislation, and at present it remains illegal throughout the country.
Kep describes a deep fear of going “demented”. He sees Whitlam every now and again; the last visit was four months ago. “I’m not even sure he recognises me,” Kep says.
It’s a far cry from their first encounter. Kep comes alive as he describes it; he was elected as the Labor member for Canberra in a 1970 byelection. “Whitlam was making a name for himself then, a great name, you couldn’t help but be hypnotised.”
After the 1972 election Enderby was fast-tracked to cabinet. In February 1975 Lionel Murphy moved to the high court, vacating the AG position. Kep says he knocked on Whitlam’s door, demanding the job he’d heard Whitlam was going to take for himself. “I said, ‘Oh come off it, I think I deserve it.’ He said, ‘All right, you bastard.’” Dot resigned her job at the library – such were the engagement demands of a senior cabinet minister’s wife at the time.
He pushed through progressive legislation – including the Family Law Act that introduced no-fault divorce. And then, on 11 November – Remembrance Day – the governor general, John Kerr, removed the prime minister, against attorney general Enderby’s advice.
Kep Enderby 1975 Day of the dismissal: Enderby (centre) with Sir John Kerr at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Canberra in 1975
Kep was representing Whitlam at a Remembrance Day event in Canberra. Kerr was at his side and Dot was in the audience. The event ended and Kep knew something was afoot.
“Kerr didn’t shake hands. He just left me, walked away. It was strange, I knew him quite well. He’d been in mine and Dorothy’s home for dinner. But Lady Kerr was terribly cold. She turned to me and said, “Goodbye, Mr Attorney.”’
Hours later the government was finished. Enderby was called to The Lodge by Whitlam. He recalls Gough opening the door, munching on a meat pie, and proclaiming, “The bastard’s done a Game on us” – a reference to the NSW premier Jack Lang’s overthrow in 1932 by governor Game.
Kep lost his seat at the following election. The radical reform of the Whitlam years was over, and the Enderbys moved to Sydney.
After his appointment as a justice in the NSW supreme court, Kep held other positions, including heading the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NSW for six years. Dot retired from formal work shortly after the move but she says their relationship has “always been a partnership”.
You get the feeling that it’s the threat of this partnership breaking down, rather than a blinded commitment to political libertarianism, which really explains their decision to euthanise eventually.
He has arthritis and peripheral neuropathy. The doctors tell him it will only get worse. He doesn’t want her to hear, but says it anyway: “In recent times I have become more and more demanding of having Dot do things for me. I can’t even put these trousers on sometimes.
“I had this bout of diarrhoea, which lasted about four weeks. I couldn’t run to the toilet fast enough. It was shitting all over the floor and Dot would have to clean it up. This sounds like finding an excuse … to commit suicide, but the longer I live, the more of a burden I am to Dot.”
She frowns dismissively. “It’s bearable at the moment,” she says, but later she tells me the pain in her back is so crippling that sometimes that she considers taking the Nembutal out of the blue too.
They fondly recall their time in Balmain, sailing yachts together; flying light aircraft; they learned Esperanto – the global auxiliary language that Kep says embodies his beliefs as an internationalist. The most painful loss for him, the one he keeps coming back to in our conversation, is the fact that he can only read for an hour a day now. “I’ve been a great reader … But now my eyes get sore.”
It has been a charmed, full life – foiled, to an extent, by old age.
The ethical discussion of voluntary euthanasia is not likely to cease in the foreseeable future. The Enderbys’ case brings up many questions. Could people not as empowered as this couple come to a decision about euthanasia rationally? Would the legal proliferation of drugs such as Nembutal allow those without terminal illness easier access to suicide? Too easy, perhaps?
Stella Young, a disability advocate and editor of the ABC’s disability discussion site Ramp Up, is concerned that framing the euthanasia debate around issues of individual liberty undervalues the lives of those with disability and illness.
“As a disabled person, I'm concerned about giving even greater control of our lives to the medical profession,” she says. “The way we view disability as a society has a lot to do with the deficit approach taken by doctors.
“No matter how hard we dispute it, our lives are seen as less valuable than the lives of non-disabled people.
“I don't want to see a situation where already vulnerable people who are living without the supports they need feel pressure to solve this problem by requesting death.”
As I leave I ask Dot what she’d do if Kep went first. They’re obviously still deeply in love, surely she’d be heartbroken?
“I’d cope. I did for the first 30 years of my life.” It’s a rational, lucid response based on mutual respect and understanding. It might also be seen as compelling argument.
Philip Nitschke: where to next for euthanasia advocates - 22Oct13
Philip Nitschke: where to next for euthanasia advocates
Oct 22, 2013
Tasmania’s lower house has defeated a measure that would allow voluntary euthanasia, but Exit International director Dr Philip Nitschke says the very sick are finding their own ways to die, regardless of the law.
It seems it doesn’t matter how conservative a bill on voluntary euthanasia is, or how many safeguards are put in place. There will always be more politicians without the necessary courage than with; more who would rather see the status quo in the area of end-of-life choices maintained.
This is what happened last week in Tasmania. Despite Premier Lara Giddings’ best intentions, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, which would have legalised euthanasia in some circumstances in Tasmania, was defeated in the state’s lower house by two votes.
The good citizens of the “state most likely” have been dudded again by their representatives. And I say “state most likely” as, for the first time since Darwin in 1995, we had the premier, the leader of a major party, pushing legislative change. But even this wasn’t enough.
To me, the only truly thing remarkable about this 17th attempt to change state laws in Australia is that Tasmania’s Liberal Party MPs voted as a bloc. Not one of them supported the bill, co-sponsored by Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim bill, despite being given a conscience vote to do so.
For an issue that normally crosses party political lines, this was a first and one that bodes poorly for the future. Although it is inevitable that voluntary euthanasia laws will be passed one day, you’d be a fool to put your faith in this happening soon. And many elderly Australians just don’t have the time to wait.
So here we are, Australia back in the Dark Ages. I’m embarrassed that whereas once we led the world on this cutting-edge social issue, today we have to look to other countries to show what responsible legislation can achieve.
As I’ve said countless times in the media, the sky doesn’t fall in from changing the law. It didn’t in Switzerland. There are still no clouds of doom in any of the four US states (Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont) where assisted suicide is now lawful. And life as we know it hasn’t stopped in the Netherlands either, or in Belgium, in those place where the populace is concerned with living every day to the full, and the sick have the assurance of an out when modern medicine has nothing more to offer.
So where to for Australians?
In recent weeks there’s been more disappointment on this issue with the closure of the Silk Road; yes, that illegal, anonymous internet marketplace where illicit drugs have been available. Despite the bollocking that Silk Road has received in some media, as a resource it was invaluable; its products could be purchased from a peer-reviewed source, not from some dealer on the street corner whose quality assurance guarantees make a mockery of Australian consumer law. In this respect, euthanasia drug Nembutal is the same as all other illegal drugs. If your Nembutal has been cut with baby powder, you’d want to know about it. After all, you’re only going to die once, and you don’t want to botch it. This, surely, is harm minimisation at its best?
And this was what elderly folk of the Western world are cottoning onto. They break the law, get the drugs themselves, test them, lock them away and pray to Buddha, God or Allah that they’ll never need to use them. But they feel they can rest assured that they have their insurance plan in place if things in the future “turn bad”.
With no law reform on the immediate horizon, this is what some of the elderly and the seriously ill will continue to do — those who come in growing numbers to my workshops are increasingly jaded by a political process incapable of reflecting the 80% community support for voluntary euthanasia. They are finding that solutions are available. Not only are powdered Nembutal from China or liquid Nembutal from South America available, but access is becoming easier, despite an increase in Customs’ interceptions.
Exit International has a laboratory program that enables the testing of these imported drugs. In the 50-plus chemical assays conducted to date, only one has revealed sub-standard purity results. And that was from a sample of dubious origin to start with.
For those lucky enough to have gotten their drugs into the country, the question that has now emerged is why bother changing the law at all? The horse has bolted, leaving the stable door swinging. The oldies are doing it for themselves.
Best of all, they say, they didn’t have to go grovelling to a bunch of medicos seeking permission.
In 1996 in Darwin, the first man in the world to get a legal, lethal, voluntary injection using the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act was Bob Dent. While Bob always said he was in the “right place at the right time” he had nothing but disdain for the mandatory psychiatric sanity test, just so he could die. It would have been a joke had the stakes had not been so high.
When you think that the Tasmanian politicians couldn’t even come at multiple doctors, psychiatric testing, cooling-off periods and age and residential restrictions, I can’t help but think why bother. It could be said the future has moved beyond law reform.
Your dying wish - 19Oct13
Your dying wish
By Philip Adams
Oct 19, 2013
IN 2007, John Howard and Phil Ruddock were determined to ban a book - the first Australian book to be banned in this country for decades.
It wasn't porn, or a naughty Norman Lindsay novel (his Redheap had been banned in 1930 and remained so until 1958). The seditious tome was Philip Nitschke's The Peaceful Pill Handbook, concerning voluntary euthanasia. The government already had a new law, the Criminal Code Amendment (Suicide Related Material Offences) Act, that made it a crime to use email, the internet, fax or phone to discuss the practical aspects of ending one's life. Now they wanted to ban an old-fashioned print guide, too.
As part of Nitschke's campaign to oppose what might be described as overkill, he organised a dinner for supporters at the National Museum, and I flew down to MC it. The audience was the oldest I'd ever had. And, strangely, the happiest.
There was nothing morbid about the evening, nothing self-pitying. We had a great night: it was a celebration of what they saw as their inalienable right to seek assistance in ending their life, if that was their decision.
The so-called slippery slope isn't that slippery, in fact. Not everyone in the voluntary euthanasia movement chooses assisted suicide. At the end many cling to life despite everything.
While we have no say in our conception or birth, millions of Australians believe that the final curtain is their business - that no religion or government is entitled to extend an intolerable life sentence. At the same time, those of us who see Nitschke as a heroic crusader for dying with dignity do not want to make it compulsory. And we recognise the ethical dilemmas; even gentle palliative care that hastens death is seen by some doctors and nurses as crossing the line. Others go further, at considerable legal risk.
Mercy killings - for example, when a husband helps a beloved wife to die - are viewed with sympathy in many courts. But there are other reasons, non-medical, for opting out. The surviving partner who doesn't want to live on alone; the quadriplegic who's had enough; the 90-year-old who can't see the point of lingering.
They won't be helped by any proposed legislation. Nor can someone with dementia provide an informed decision. Even Switzerland, one of the countries with progressive policies, requires a patient to drink a life-ending draught themselves. So much for that slippery slope.
Last month, launching Nitschke's latest book, Damned if I Do, I realised how little has changed here. (Even some states in the US, with their all-consuming religiosity, have moved ahead; the laws in Oregon, for example, are impressive.) It is not a Left-Right issue. The conservative Northern Territory leader Marshall Perron had right-to-die legislation passed in 1995 immediately provoking massive retaliation by Howard, who allowed Kevin Andrews' Euthanasia Laws Bill of 1996 (which overruled the NT) to be debated, confident he had the numbers. Not in the community but in the parliament, where the "no" side had the backing of powerful religious forces. The "yes" side failed to unite. But what if a conscience vote were held in the federal or state parliaments today? One that reflected community views? A victory for "yes" would seem assured. It's the same with drug laws, where, it seems to me, the public is way ahead of the policy makers. Sadly, politicians are afraid of speaking out.
We have a profound fear of death. It's not the most popular subject. We avert our gaze from it, preferring to have it denied by religion, defied by cosmetic surgery and delayed by medical science. All civilisation derives from our awareness of mortality. It's time for the community to demand laws on voluntary euthanasia - so that it becomes a human right.
Euthanasia advocate rues Silk Road shutdown - 07Oct13
Euthanasia advocate rues Silk Road shutdown
Deputy technology editor
Oct 05, 2013
Prominent Australian right-to-die campaigner Philip Nitschke says the shutdown of black market website Silk Road will have a devastating impact on people who use it to obtain euthanasia drugs.
Last week US authorities busted the online bazaar for drugs, arresting the suspected mastermind Ross William Ulbricht, also known as "Dread Pirate Roberts", in San Francisco. His attorney has denied the charges.
Nitschke, the head of Exit International who has campaigned on euthanasia issues for more than a decade, said a lot of people used the marketplace to source reliable quantities of the premier end-of-life drug Nembutal.
Information about how to purchase the drug on Silk Road was contained within The Peaceful Pill Handbook, which is published by Exit International and banned in Australia, but which is available online as an e-book. The information on obtaining the drug through Silk Road would now be removed and replaced with a screen grab of the FBI take down notice which now appears on the website, Dr Nitschke said.
"The Silk Road information has been in there most of this year . . . It's become quite important to people," Dr Nitschke said, adding that he was aware of at least 20 people who bought Nembutal through the site.
"Our elderly members appreciated the comfort that came from knowing that their transactions were private," he said.
Nitschke rues Silk Road closure - 04Oct13
Nitschke rues Silk Road closure
The closure by US authorities of the black market Silk Road website will have a devastating effect on some elderly Australians, says euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke.
They were using the site to source reliable quantities of the "premier" end-of-life drug Nembutal, Dr Nitschke, director of Exit International, said on Friday.
US Federal agents this week shut down the site which they said was a black market for drugs, hitmen and hacker tools and arrested the suspected owner.
But Dr Nitschke said the site had been welcomed by elderly Australians desperate to obtain an end-of-life safety net.
"Our elderly members appreciated the comfort that came from knowing that their transactions were private," he said in a statement.
"Although they knew that importing a small amount of Nembutal for possible use at some future date was illegal, many still felt it was a risk worth taking.
"The removal of the site will now mean that other less secure avenues will be pursued."
The site closure will be one topic discussed at an Exit International euthanasia workshop to be held in Adelaide on Saturday.
Euthanasia woman's complicated exit - 2Oct13
Euthanasia woman's complicated exit
Oct 02 - 2013
EUTHANASIA advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has defended his cause after an ill woman’s attempt to end her life was fraught with complications, suggesting she may have departed from recommended procedures.
A harrowing report in Fairfax newspapers at the weekend recounted the story of NSW accountant and political activist Aina Ranke, who told reporters she planned to end her life on Thursday 19 September after being diagnosed with a degenerative neuromuscular condition that was stopping her speaking and swallowing and left her in constant agony.
According to the article, she took pentobarbital (Nembutal), which she had illegally imported, as planned at about midday on 19 September while her home-care assistant was away. The assistant would have been obliged to call an ambulance had she been present.
However, the assistant returned at 3pm, earlier than expected, and found Ms Ranke unconscious but alive and called an ambulance. She was rushed to hospital, where doctors were reluctant to turn off the respirator for fear of assisting a suicide and breaking the law.
The following Monday a brain scan showed Ms Ranke had no brain function and doctors switched the machine off. She died almost five days after she took the drug, in the early hours of Tuesday 24 September.
In a statement to MO, Dr Nitschke said the report had worried members of his Exit International organisation – of which Ms Ranke had been a member – who were concerned the pentobarbital was faulty.
Dr Nitschke said there was nothing wrong with the drug, which the woman had imported from Peru, and that she was in frequent contact with Exit International about how she should end her life. Exit had given her advice, including “that it was very important to ensure that she was not disturbed for a number of hours”.
“The mystery is why she chose to abandon the night time as the recommended time to take the drug and moved it to midday with the outcome that she was discovered shortly before death,” Dr Nitschke said.
“It was clear from the very early stage that the resuscitation was a disaster and the removing of life support was going to be an inevitable final step.”
Nitschke hails PM on right to die - 28Sep13
Nitschke hails PM on right to die
Sep 28 - 2013
EUTHANASIA campaigner Philip Nitschke is "heartened" to see Tony Abbott engaging with the issue in a pragmatic manner, but there is "a long way to go".
The Prime Minister told Fairfax Radio's Neil Mitchell yesterday issues surrounding euthanasia were "best left to the discretion of doctors and patients". Asked about the Tasmanian parliament's possible introduction of voluntary euthanasia, Mr Abbott said he did not support euthanasia, but "Tasmania is entitled to do what Tasmania thinks best".
"There's no reason why doctors can't administer pain relief and know that sometimes if you administer pain relief you do have the, I suppose, the unintended consequence of shortening life, but there's a world of difference between giving pain relief to someone who is dying and actually killing someone who'd otherwise be alive," he said.
But Mr Abbott agreed that pain relief was often given with the intention of speeding death. "Quite possibly you're right, Neil, and when was the last time any doctor or anyone was prosecuted for something like that? I think the situation that we've got at the moment is a perfectly acceptable one," he said.
Dr Nitschke said Mr Abbott's decision not to attempt to intervene in Tasmania was "comforting". "It is interesting that he seems to be giving tacit endorsement to the double-effect principle -- that the patient might die after being given pain relief, and that's OK as long as the doctor didn't intend to kill the patient," Dr Nitschke said.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said Mr Abbott was right to distinguish between doctors administering pain relief which may shorten life, and euthanasia. "This is not euthanasia because there is no intention to kill -- it's firstly focused on the comfort, symptom management and pain relief of the patient," Mr Shelton said.
Nitschke says over-50s should be able to end it - 27Sep13
Nitschke says over-50s should be able to end it
Sep 27 - 2013
EUTHANASIA advocate Philip Nitschke says anyone over the age of 50 should be able to take their life.
"My position has shifted and I believe anyone over a certain age who is of sound mind should have access to the best means of being able to end their lives," Dr Nitschke said in Darwin last night. But he denied that he was condoning suicide.
"I hope people will have a read of the book and see why I think this makes sense and then they can reject the arguments but I think a healthier society is where everyone has this option," he said.
The former Territorian was at Darwin's NT Library to launch his new autobiography Damned If I Do.
Dr Nitschke's biggest bombshell of the evening was that he had an affair with a Darwin journalist.
He would not divulge who he was referring to.
Dr Nitschke said the NT helped shape the man he is today - from his time living remote with the land rights movement to his time in the Top End as a park ranger.
"I have spent the best part of my life here, my home is still here, I come back when I can," he said.
Despite the NT's 1995 euthanasia legislation being overturned by the Federal Government, Dr Nitschke said he thought it would again be made legal.
Euthanasia Activist Phillip Nitschke Pushes Killing Prisoners Via Euthanasia - 21Sep13
Euthanasia Activist Phillip Nitschke Pushes Killing Prisoners Via Euthanasia
Wesley J. Smith
Sep 16 - 2013
A commentary in the Washington Square News, riffing off of the suicide of Ariel Castro, argues that prisons should implement euthanasia for people sentenced to life in prison.
From the piece by Nikolas Reda-Castelao:
Castro made a plea bargain, surrendering his property and his possessions, to opt out of the death penalty, but it seems he only did so just to take his own life a month later. The ACLU does many good things for prison reform, but I find myself — knowing full well how contentious the argument of suicide is — against the notion that a prison should protect their inmates from killing themselves in situations where they have no hope for release. If they lose all control of their lives, can it be said that they are still living?
Note the comment by the death-on-demand Australian assisted suicide fanatic, Phillip Nitschke:
Fully agree with this. Incarceration without parole is state sanctioned torture and the state has the obligation to offer the option of a peaceful reliable death. Not a popular view when suggested (in Australia)!
This isn’t the first time that assisted suicide/euthanasia has been floated to relieve lifers of their burden–usually by opponents of the death penalty as “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Between life and death 31Aug13
Between life and death
Aug 30 - 2013
Australia's foremost pro-euthanasia campaigner talks about his personal exit plan and why he regularly thinks he's dying.
In his recent autobiography, Philip Nitschke makes an astonishingly frank disclosure. He says that immediately after helping people to kill themselves back in the mid-1990s, he had an overpowering need for sex.
Nitschke was the first doctor to legally administer a lethal injection under the short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act of the Northern Territory in 1996, which was overturned by the Howard government five months after it came into force. He was involved in the deaths of four people. He invented the "Deliverance Machine" - a laptop linked to a syringe - which delivered a fatal injection after the terminally ill had worked through a series of screens asking questions about whether they wanted to die. Since then, he has led Exit International, which provides people with information on how to peacefully end their lives.
In the first set of page proofs of Damned If I Do sent out by Melbourne University Press, Nitschke was at his most candid. "After performing my role in those deaths, I had an urgent and pressing need for sex," he wrote. He was having an affair with a journalist and the sex, he says, was "frantic and sometimes desperate". But in a later set of proofs, the section is toned down. Sex has become a "desperate craving for intimacy". The meaning is still clear, and shocking, as much because of the bravery in the disclosure as the content. Quite simply, Philip Nitschke is an honest man. He has no guile.
Speaking in the comfortable North Adelaide townhouse he shares with his partner of 12 years, Fiona Stewart, Nitschke says the partners of the dead sometimes have the same feelings. Why be so frank when it will doubtless be used against him? "I haven't seen anyone else even mention it, and I thought it was worth mentioning."
Leaving the houses in which he had presided over a death, he says he felt sadness and a heavy sense of responsibility. Then he would look into the sunlight. "There was this immense feeling of being alive. And then taking a deep breath ... and almost immediately, this sexual urge. It was a way I could demonstrate to myself that I was alive. It wasn't me that was dead."
Nitschke's honesty can translate into a lack of tact. "He has burnt every other pro-euthanasia campaigner in the country," says one long-term associate, who still counts Nitschke as a friend. In the past he has been described as unshaven and slovenly - and always prickly, always an activist.
Dr. ‘Death’ and New Zealand’s Chief Coroner at Loggerheads - 31Aug13
Dr. ‘Death’ and New Zealand’s Chief Coroner at Loggerheads
Aug 31 - 2013
Commenting on new statistics released on August 26th. that showed increasing rates of suicide in women and the elderly, the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean expressed concern about the high rate of suicide in people aged in their 80s and beyond. The essence of his remarks was that the whole community needed to pull together to reduce the number of preventable deaths by suicide. “We should be looking out for each other; you should be helping your neighbour”, he said. He noted that a number of helping agencies were active in the community; but, he said, “It is very hard to determine which initiatives, if any, (are) having an impact on the rate of suicide.” (N.Z. Herald August 27th 2013.)
Australian based Dr. Philip Nitschke, Director of Exit International, an organisation dedicated to legalising euthanasia, is not so uncertain. Commenting on the Coroner’s remarks on Exit’s blog, he advises New Zealanders not to be alarmed by the trend to increasing suicides in older people, which he blames on a combination of increasing age and ill health. He believes that the rate of suicide is actually much higher than official statistics reveal because many “go out of their way to make death look natural.” He takes credit for his organisation being a source of supplies of MaxDog nitrogen to elderly New Zealanders with which to terminate their lives in such a way as to make the cause of death “impossible to determine”. He does not reveal how the empty gas cylinder is spirited away from the site if the individual is acting alone. Dr. Nitschke also takes credit for assisting potential suicide patients to source and import Nembutal from China.
Professor Emeritus David Richmond, a spokesperson for Euthanasia Free New Zealand, agreeing with Judge MacLean’s concerns, observed that by covering up the cause of death in people using its methods, it could be implied that Exit was deliberately attempting to hide a crime. “Furthermore”, he said, “under such circumstances, no-one could be certain whether the unfortunate event was a genuine suicide or whether it involved a relative killing an elderly person for personal gain. Given the high levels of elder abuse in New Zealand, such concerns are not fanciful.” He expressed concern that were MP Maryan Street’s End of Life Choices Bill currently in Parliament’s ballot system passed into law, if would pre-empt Exit International’s ‘un-neighbourly’ contribution to the suicide rate in New Zealand by making it possible for anyone aged 18 and over to be euthanased at public expense provided they were careful in the way they worded their application. No-one could prevent it without running afoul of legal penalties. “In that case, what basis would our community have to continue to be concerned about the suicide rate?” he asked. “The State would surely be seen to be favouring Dr. Nitschke’s triumphalistic attitude towards suicide rates to the neglect of the opinion of a responsible majority of its citizens who, like Judge MacLean, are deeply concerned about them.”
Euthanasia Free New Zealand is asking the authorities to look into the importation, by Exit, of devices intended to be used to kill people.
The cost of living when a dying wish is denied - 17Ago13
The cost of living when a dying wish is denied
Nitschke hits out at NZ coroner’s ‘nonsensical’ joint suicide comments - 25Jun13
Nitschke hits out at NZ coroner’s ‘nonsensical’ joint suicide comments
June 25, 2013
CONTROVERSIAL euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke has hit out at a New Zealand coroner for his "quaint" and "nonsensical" comments on the joint suicide of a Kiwi couple.
Adrian Webster, 71, and his wife Marei, 76, died in a suicide pact and were discovered lying dead on a bed at their Paekakariki home north of Wellington last year.
Local body politician Webster had been suffering from terminal stomach cancer, and his wife, who had lost two other partners to disease, did not want to live without him.
Wellington coroner Garry Evans this week opted to reveal some details of their deaths to quell "speculation, rumour and suspicion" around the case.
However, Dr Nitschke said the coroner's comments were quaint, nonsensical and inconsistent, and would only fuel more speculation on exactly how the pair died.
He said the Websters were members of his organisation Exit International, which helps people safely organise their own suicides.
"They were open about how they intended to end their lives when the effects of Adrian's stomach cancer became intolerable," said Dr Nitschke.
He challenged the coroner to publish details of how the Websters achieved their "peaceful death" to inform New Zealanders of their options.
New Zealand coroners, as a rule, suppress the method of death in suicide cases.
He also criticised what he called the New Zealand government's "continuous refusal... to address the issue of voluntary euthanasia and make legal options for a peaceful death available".
Dr Nitschke has advocated the use of nitrogen-based products and pentobarbital so people may commit suicide unassisted, as well as travel to a Swiss clinic where assisted suicide can be carried out legally.