“After a minute and a half, you feel disoriented. In five minutes, you’re gone.”
This article originally appeared on Tonic Netherlands.
In the Netherlands, euthanasia was written into the law in 2001. The law went into effect in 2002, which makes the country one of the most progressive when it comes to euthanasia. In 1996, Philip Nitschke became the first doctor to legally administer a deadly injection to one of his patients. In the international debate surrounding the topic of euthanasia, he is one of its most well-known and controversial proponents.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Nitschke, who has been nicknamed “Dr. Death,” a “euthanasia guru.” He’s the founder of Exit International, an organization that promotes voluntary euthanasia. He also wrote the suicide handbook The Peaceful Pill. Initially, he only spoke out about euthanasia for the terminally ill, but he’s since changed his mind: He now believes that euthanasia shouldn’t be confined by conditions and criteria, but instead is something that each person has the right to choose. In recent years, he’s spent a lot of time designing Sarco, a 3D-printable suicide machine, which—according to him—will allow people to die peacefully. Due to this new invention, the past few weeks both Nitschke and his ideas have once again received a lot of attention. We talked to Philip about euthanasia as a human right, his own death, and his latest invention: The Sarco.
Tonic: Let’s dive right in: How do you feel about the nickname ‘Dr. Death’?
Philip Nitschke: Well, you get used to it. Of course I’d much rather have a nicer nickname, though then I probably should involve myself with a more cheerful topic.
Yes, you’re quite controversial. How did you become so interested in this particular topic?
It’s actually a political thing. When I was working to legalize euthanasia in Australia, I met more and more people who wanted to die but didn’t have a medical reason. One of them was a French woman, a scholar, who had planned to die at age 80. Not because she was sick, but simply because she thought that was a beautiful age to pass away. When I responded with initial skepticism, she answered—and she was right—that it wasn’t my place to judge her. She said it was her decision, one that isn’t bound by the rules I follow as a doctor. Partially due to her, I changed my mind. I became convinced that death should be a right for any sane human.
That turns out to be a controversial opinion. What is the biggest counter argument you come up against?
The most common argument is that there is no such thing as rational suicide, and that a death wish is, per definition, the result of a psychiatric illness. I reject that idea. Someone’s death wish isn’t something that needs to be treated, per se. Another objection is that life is a gift, one you should be thankful for. My counter argument for that is: If life is indeed a gift, you are also allowed to give it away. Otherwise, isn’t it a burden instead of a gift?
“The most common argument is that there is no such thing as rational suicide, and that a death wish is, per definition, the result of a psychiatric illness. I reject that idea.”
Aren’t you responsible to a degree, because you are facilitating the option [to commit] suicide?
I don’t think that’s fair. Look, I believe that choosing death is a right. If you would tell me right now that you are going outside to kill yourself, should I stop you? I don’t think so. I believe that you, being an autonomous entity, are free to make that decision for yourself. It doesn’t make me happy, but it’s your decision. In that case, I only offer the option of a peaceful passing….
Continued via… Source: A Doctor Built a Machine That Helps People Die – Tonic