New Zealand Could Ban Euthanasia Book a Second Time Over Pro-Life Protests

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Zealand Could Ban Euthanasia Book a Second Time Over Pro-Life Protests

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 9
, 2008

Wellington, New Zealand ( — A suicide instruction book authored by Australia’s "Doctor Death" may be banned a second time in New Zealand thanks to the efforts of a pro-life group there. In February 2007, the Australian government banned the book, the Peaceful Pill Handbook, written by Philip Nitschke.

The book tells readers of various suicide options including how to manufacture or obtain and use various barbiturates.

Critics say it encourages readers to make their own drugs that can’t be monitored for their safety or distribution.

Distribution of the book in New Zealand was expected this month, but Right to Life New Zealand appealed the decision of chief censor Bill Hastings, who allowed it for national sale.

Right to Life representative Ken Orr said his group had been granted permission by the secretary of Internal Affairs to submit an appeal to the and Literature Review Board.

He hopes the board will issue a decision temporarily preventing the sale of the book until it can issue a final decision on whether it should be sold.

"Dr Nitschke is showing complete contempt for the censorship laws in Australia and New Zealand," Orr said. "We’re quietly confident that the board will agree with our submission and classify it as objectionable and have it banned."

The book was initially banned last July buy the Office of Film and Literature Classification lifted the ban on May 9 and said it could be sold to anyone over the age of 18 as long as it was sold in a sealed package similar to adult magazine.

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." It’s 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."