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Killing people softly still means they end up dead - 30 May 2003

Spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph, has criticised the comments of patron of the NSW Voluntary Euthanasia Society, Professor Peter Baume. Professor Baume said today that the role of VES groups was to make suicide “easier” and “more pleasant”.

Professor Baume was speaking at the Exit Australia euthanasia conference in Sydney. The conference is called “Killing me Softly: Love, Death and Dying in Australia”.

“Marketing suicide as ‘easier’ and ‘more pleasant’ will only attract people to that option. Killing people softly still means people end up dead. This is a tragedy, not a cause for celebration”, said Ms Joseph.

“Euthanasia groups should instead be focusing on addressing the problems of suicidal people so that we can reduce the number of people suiciding in Australia.

“More than 2400 Australians resort to suicide each year.

“The euthanasia movement doesn’t recognise that suicide is a bad thing. People suicide because they are so desperate or frightened they can’t see another way. We have to help to them to find another way - not tell them how to find lethal drugs.

“Professor Baume’s comments also reveal a split in the euthanasia movement“, said Ms Joseph.

“Baume apparently thinks that people should have access to suicide, but only if they think palliative care can’t help them. Dr Philip Nitschke however offers suicide advice to anyone who wants it and has been in contact with a number of people who were not terminally ill, yet resorted to suicide.

“Nancy Crick is just one suicidal person Nitschke advised. Mrs Crick took a lethal cocktail of drugs before it was publicly revealed that she was not terminally ill. Other people have since resorted to what Nitschke calls ‘rational suicide’, even though they were not terminally ill.”

Contact:    Mary Joseph, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02 6253 3100