Euthanasia in Fiji?

There was a disturbing interview with euthanasia advocate Dr Phillip Nitschke on the ABC last Friday. He has approached the government of Fiji, proposing a euthanasia clinic for Australians.

“People who are…terminally ill, would be able to make a much easier journey from countries in the Pacific, such as Australia or New Zealand, to Fiji, where at a particular clinic they would be able to be given the best of the end-of-life drugs,”

“It would allow people to have access to a peaceful death in an environment where the process was sanctioned, as opposed to the situation we have here in Australia and some other countries, where such procedures are not possible because of the legality of the issue.”

This idea is similar to some clinics in Switzerland, where euthanasia is not only legalised but also euthanasing people from other countries is allowed, a concept which has become known as “suicide tourism.”

But this idea, even leaving aside the problems with euthanasia in general, has been shown to be dangerous and flawed. For example, in the case of Edward and Joan Downes, a couple from the UK who travelled to Switzerland to be euthanased, Edward Downes was euthanased at a Swiss clinic even though he didn’t have a terminal illness. This is in a first-world country where there is a functioning democracy and they have supposedly strict regulations surrounding euthanasia.

We can only imagine how much more lax the regulations on euthanasia would be in a far less developed and regulated country like Fiji. Desperate people, with or without terminal illnesses, could travel there and have themselves killed without any sort of rigorous safeguards. Such a project is potentially disastrous at best and fatally irresponsible at worst.

Bear in mind that Fiji is still controlled by a military dictator, doesn’t have a functioning democratic or judicial system, critics of the government are punished, and over 40% of the population live in poverty. And yet Dr Nitschke proactively approached the government of Fiji to administer the euthanasing of vulnerable Australians, and also seems to believe that Fiji would be a humane and compassionate country if it agrees to his proposal:

“Look the reality that it’s a very humane process and a country which shows some compassion and some concern for its neighbours I think would entertain such ideas. Now the fact that Australia can’t bring itself to go down this path says more about Australia, so we’re hoping that we see attitudes in a country like Fiji that we see in some of the more enlightened countries of Europe and some of the states of America, where they’ve chosen to go down this path, because they believe that’s humane and compassionate.”

“The difference with Switzerland and we hope with Fiji is that they allow that humane strategy to apply to other countries in the region.”

So there you have it. It would appear that Dr Nitschke believes that the measure of a humane and compassionate country isn’t a functioning democracy, freedom of speech, a strong economy, or social justice, but rather a willingness to kill the terminally ill of another country.

Is he actually serious?

And that is only part of the interview transcript – try reading through the rest of it. Dr Nitschke is the leading proponent of euthanasia in Australia and it is impossible to tell what he is on (about).

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