Euthanasia Supporter Dr. Philip Nitschke Banned From Giving Advice On Assisted Suicide
Philip Nitschke, one of the most prominent and vocal campaigner for voluntary euthanasia, now faces 25 severe conditions from the Australian Medical Board, effectively prohibiting the so-called "Dr. Death" from promoting the concept of assisted suicide.
While the board has allowed Nitschke to retain his medical license, the imposition of the restrictions ends his leadership of the group Exit International and makes the tribunal hearing set for November no longer necessary.
Control of Exit International will now be transferred to Nitschke's wife, Dr. Fiona Stewart, and Nitschke himself has decided to start a comedy career following the success of his Edinburgh fringe festival show on euthanasia in August.
"I have agreed to these conditions being imposed in order to put an end to this matter with the Medical Board," Nitschke said.
"At this stage, I do not propose to comment further."
In July, the Northern Territory Supreme Court awarded Nitschke his medical license after the Australian Medical Board exercised its emergency powers in order to suspend the doctor last year for contacting Nigel Brayley, a 45-year-old man from Perth who had been identified as suicidal but with no terminal illness. Brayley later on died through the use of a medication that Nitschke promoted.
Based on the board's conditions, Nitschke can still practice his profession as a doctor but is prohibited from providing advice or information to patients and other members of the public regarding how to commit suicide. The restrictions include different forms of media such as books, workshops, videos and other online publications.
Nitschke is also required to refer individuals interested in voluntary euthanasia to registered health professionals and mental health experts. He can only carry out his duties as a doctor under strict supervision within the next two years.
The Australian Medical Board specifically bans Nitschke from providing patients with information or advice on the use of a class of barbiturates known as Nembutal, which has been identified as potentially fatal to individuals at high doses.
Advocates of voluntary euthanasia promote use of the illegal drug to patients diagnosed with terminal illness who are interested in taking their own life.
Stewart said that they are taking the board's conditions to the members of Exit International. They plan to conduct a survey of their supporters regarding the future of their organization.
She pointed out that the restrictions from the board were so onerous that Nitschke cannot even talk to Exit International members about voluntary euthanasia.