Euthanasia Advocate Who Committed Suicide Was Cancer Free

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 9, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Euthanasia Advocate Who Committed Suicide Was Cancer Free

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
June 9, 2004

Queensland, Australia ( — Authorities now say an Australian euthanasia campaigner, who claimed she was terminally ill when she committed suicide did not have cancer, after all.

A post-mortem report has revealed that Nancy Crick was cancer-free at the time of her death.

Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson says that a decision on whether to file charges in the euthanasia case is likely to come next week.

Atkinson said police have been aware of the examination findings "for some considerable time," but that they would not affect the criminal investigation.

"I don’t believe it has a great bearing on the actual decision we have to make–and are very close to reaching at this time–and that is to whether or not anyone will be prosecuted in terms of the offense of assisting another person to take their own life," Atkinson said.

Atkinson described the case as complex and important for the larger issue of euthanasia.

Crick publicized her suicide plans in an Internet diary and said she hoped her death would serve as a legal test to allow euthanasia.

The autopsy confirmed the findings of a report leaked to The Courier-Mail newspaper after Crick, surrounded by 21 relatives and euthanasia supporters, took a lethal dose of drugs at her Gold Coast home on May 22, 2002.

Criminal charges for those assisting in the suicide could carry a maximum penalty of ten years to life in prison.

In what pro-life activists see as a particularly incendiary statement, Dr. Philip Nitschke, an advocate of euthanasia, said it did not matter whether the 69-year-old great grandmother had cancer at the time of her death.

"To Nancy’s mind it didn’t really matter and I guess to my mind it didn’t matter either," Nitschke told the Australian press.

He added, "What had happened was that she had died as a consequence of her cancer surgery. That has become clear from a very comprehensive autopsy report where they have looked in great detail mentioning a seven-page report some 42 times that they couldn’t find cancer. So they obviously searched hard."

In a statement that mirrors the rhetoric of the pro-abortion movement, Nitschke said, "The euthanasia movement is about right of choice. Nancy had a choice."

But opponents of euthanasia point out that those who seek to end their own lives often do so because of depression–or because of relatives or friends who do not want to take care of them if they are ill.

Crick’s son Daryle echoed Nitschke’s sentiments, telling the Courier Mail, "Whether she had cancer or didn’t have cancer is neither here nor there. Mum was in terrible pain (after a previous bowel cancer operation) and her life was a misery. She’s in a better place now."

Daryle Crick is among those who could be charged with assisting a suicide.

But while euthanasia advocates claim that patients should be able to commit suicide in order to end their suffering, pro-life leaders point out that the issue should be how best to treat a patient’s pain, rather than what methods can be used to end a patient’s life.

For instance, Queensland Right to Life states that the availability of good quality palliative care in Australia is a "far better solution for the needs of the terminally ill than euthanasia legislation could ever be."

Related web sites:
Queensland Right to Life –