New Zealand Med Council Won’t Prosecute Australia Euthanasia Activist

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 2, 2006

Wellington, New Zealand (LifeNews.com) — The New Zealand Medical Council has failed in its efforts to prosecute an Australia euthanasia activist for practicing medicine in its nation without a license. Australian-based assisted suicide advocate Philip Nitschke came under fire for conducting workshops in New Zealand telling people how to kill themselves.

The council complained to the New Zealand Ministry of Health about his activities in February, but Deputy Director-General Kathy Spencer said there was not enough evidence to charge Nitschke.

According to a Radio New Zealand report, Spencer said she didn’t think a successful case could be brought against him under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act.

Nitschke has said he will be coming back to New Zealand to do more euthanasia workshops following the ministry’s decision. He expects to hold more assisted suicide classes in Auckland and Wellington in the next two months.

He indicated he escaped prosecution because the definition of what constitutes practicing medicine is convoluted and because prosecuting him would threaten his free speech rights.
"There is an issue of free speech here," he said. "There is an issue of access to free information and of course, fundamentally, what does constitute practicing medicine?"

Medical Council chair John Campbell told RNZ that he will consider filing another complaint against Nitschke if he returns to New Zealand to do more workshops.

In January, the Council warned Nitschke that his workshops were in violation of the law, but Nitschke conducted his presentations anyway.

Following Australia’s ban on using the Internet or telephone to promote euthanasia last year, Nitschke announced he would be moving his operation to New Zealand.