In the National Post yesterday there was an interesting article on Dr. Nitschke and his workshop on “Safe Exits”. He lectures on safe ways to commit suicide if you are terminally ill. He advocates for the right to choose how one will die and planning for that event, if necessary. The workshop is only open to people that are 50 years or older. It is the third such workshop to be given in Canada with the first two occurring in Vancouver. He has also authored a book on the subject that is available in Canada but not in his native country of Australia.
Ethicists have taken great issue with the workshop arguing that “the most fundamental legal principle is that people don’t kill each other” and that giving advice on “safe ways” to die Dr. Nitschke is arguably assisting in someone’s suicide. Can someone be told how to kill themselves without breaking the law? Is providing the information enough to import legal liability if someone follows it?
This is an interesting companion piece to my previous blog on this subject. Courts have found that removing a feeding tube or even a breathing tube and allowing someone to die is not assisted suicide as the person is not actively killing they are letting nature take its course. What Dr. Nischke lectures on are ways to kill yourself without involving other people which is not against the law.
Lesson Learned: Watch the law in this area; the Netherlands allows euthanasia and a handful of States in the United States allow it in limited circumstances, is Canada next?
Until next time,