Fears Dr Nitschke will exploit the vulnerable

21 Jul 2009 | BIOETHICS

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ bioethics agency - The Nathaniel Centre - is concerned that euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke will exploit those who are vulnerable during his New Zealand tour.

Starting tomorrow Dr Nitschke, founder of voluntary euthanasia organisation Exit International, will hold public meetings in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin to launch his Euthanasia Drug Test Kit.

The Nathaniel Centre’s director, Father Michael McCabe, said New Zealanders should be very concerned about the tour.

“Dr Philip Nitschke is not a trained palliative care physician and is therefore poorly equipped to understand the needs of the dying,” he says.

“He exploits the vulnerable, the aged, and the terminally and chronically ill”.

In February last year Father McCabe suggested that everyone is “ill-served by Dr Nitschke’s impoverished view of end of life care and medical practice,” and that the doctor’s message is the complete antithesis of the clear message given by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, which encourages people to seek help for depression.

His comments followed reports that Dr Nitschke thought his knowledge should be readily available to “anyone who wants it, including the depressed, the elderly bereaved, the troubled teen”.

With regard to the upcoming tour, Father McCabe points out a lack of support for Dr Nitschke’s views.

“It is insightful that even pro-euthanasia activist Ms Lesley Martin has publicly distanced herself from Dr Nitschke’s methods and philosophy and, equally, that the Australian Government have sought to blacklist his website”.