View Full Version : Right-to-die advocates develop 'peaceful pill'

09-10-2006, 11:57 AM
Right-to-die advocates develop 'peaceful pill'
Updated Sat. Sep. 9 2006 11:23 PM ET

CTV.ca News

AThis book instructs people on how to make the suicide pill.
n Australian doctor has developed a suicide -- or "peaceful pill" -- that someone wishing to euthanize herself could make at home.

"You can do everything yourself, acquire what you need access what is ultimately the most peaceful way of a peaceful death," Dr. Philip Nitschke of Exit International said Saturday.

He is in Toronto for an international right-to-die conference. He has helped produce a book instructing people on how to make the pill.

"If you can manage things yourself you don't break laws," Nitschke said.

The book is based on the work of some elderly and ill Australians under Nitschke's guidance. Their concoction -- a lethal barbituate, which acts by depressing the central nervous system -- is similar to a drug used in the few countries where euthanasia is not against the law.

Australia's current Suicide Material Offences Act prohibits giving how-to advice on suicide to someone via e-mail, fax or telephone. As a result, Exit in Australia split into two organizations, with its website now based in New Zealand.

Ten years ago, euthanasia was legal in northern Australia, but then the law was struck down.

Right-to-die groups looked for alternatives to doctor-assisted euthanasia, but not everyone at the conference thinks a suicide pill is the answer.

"It appeals to people looking for an immediate response or coverage, doesn't address 100 per cent solution, which is to allow for physician aid in dying," said Donald Babey of Dying with Dignity Canada.

Twelve years ago, the assisted death of Sue Rodriguez triggered debate on the issue in this country.

"I don't think its wrong to take ones life when one is like this," said Rodriguez, who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The fatal neurodegenerative illness gradually robs a person of control over their body.

However, the public sympathy for Rodriguez didn't result in Canada changing its laws.

Last fall, Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde tabled a private member's bill that would legalize assisted suicide. However, the bill died when that Parliamentary session ended in November 2005.

Lalonde may try to resurrect the bill in this current session of Parliament.

With a report from CTV's Denelle Balfour and files from The Canadian Press