Australia Euthanasia Advocate Says Manslaughter Conviction Won’t Stop Him

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 20, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Euthanasia Advocate Says Manslaughter Conviction Won’t Stop Him

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 20
, 2008

Canberra, Australia ( — The leading euthanasia advocate in Australia says a manslaughter conviction for two women he helped killed a former airline pilot won’t prompt him to review or stop his efforts. Philip Nitschke says he will continue to promote euthanasia and assisted suicide despite the decision.

As reported, two women charged in a controversial euthanasia-murder case have been found guilty of manslaughter.

The common law wife of a former pilot and her friend had pleaded not guilty in a New South Wales Supreme Court to murdering Graeme Wylie.

The women had refused offers from prosecutors to plead guilty to assisted suicide and, as a result, the jury found them guilty of manslaughter. Now, they face up to 25 years in prison.

Nitschke was instrumental in the case as he evaluated Wylie and decided to teach the women how to obtain a lethal dose of Nembutal, a veterinary drug the women obtained from Mexico.

Now he tells the Australian Associated Press that the guilty verdict won’t slow down his efforts with Exit International, the pro-euthanasia group he heads.

"It’s very hard to go to a person when they come to you and say: `Look, I’m sorry we’re actually stopping, and we’re reviewing all our processes’," he said at a press conference.

"We’ll still be giving information out … but we’ll be telling people to move quickly," he added.

During the trial, the jury debated whether or not Wylie had the capacity to decide for himself whether he wanted to live or die.

Nitschke said his goal is to help people engage in mercy killings before that can be determined, according to the AAP report.

"And that, in the case of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, means that they may have to move more quickly, and end their lives more quickly before this whole issue of capacity to make a decision comes to the fore," he said.

Wesley Smith, an American-based author and attorney who is an expert on bioethics issues, said Nitschke’s comments prove he’s more interested in promoting euthanasia than patient care.

"To Nitschke, nothing comes before the euthanasia agenda–not even obtaining proper medical care," he said. "Yet, he remains a hero of the international movement and a darling of the Australian media."

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