Australia Government Bans Nitschke Assisted Suicide Instruction Book

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 25, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 25
, 2007

Canberra, Australia ( — The Australian government has banned a book that gives instructions on how to kill yourself. Philip Nitschke, considered the nation’s "Dr. Death" and who has been banned from promoting assisted suicide on the Internet, is the author of the book.

Last December, the Classification Review Board (CRB) allowed restricted sales of The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Nitschke and Fiona Stewart. The book tells readers of various suicide options including how to manufacture or obtain and use various barbiturates.

But the government acted to limit sales of the book further when Attorney General Philip Ruddock and the New South Wales Right to Life Association issued complaints. The CRB reviewed them and voted unanimously to ban the book because it encourages readers to make their own drugs that can’t be monitored for their safety or distribution.

As a result of the decision, the book must be pulled from bookstore shelves and can’t be displayed for sale or imported into Australia.

Nitschke told ABC News in Australia that he is very upset by the decision and accused the board of caving into pressure from pro-life advocates.
"We are really seeing a significant erosion to the free speech principle and it’s extremely disappointing," he said. "No other country in the world, I might add, has gone down this path – Australia stands alone."

The book, which is currently sold in the United States and Canada, gets its name from Nitschke, who was paid thousands of dollars by the Hemlock Society, to develop the "peaceful pill," a suicide concoction that is designed to allow ready access to suicide for those who live in countries where assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal.

Nitschke now says that the peaceful pill resulted from elderly people pooling their resources to help create it. But he has worked on the project, funded by euthanasia advocates, for years.

Nitschke has come under fire for his various actions promoting assisted suicide and euthanasia and for saying the pill should be available in supermarkets. He also has supported assisted suicide for "troubled teens."