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Some of us in America are fascinated by the British reaction to Dr. Philip Nitschke’s current tour of Britain. I write as a citizen of the UK and USA and a ‘right to die’ watcher for 30 years.

The British public is fed up with its government’s refusal to modify the laws on assisted suicide. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that 80 percent of the public wants change. The dour Prime Minister Brown says he won’t let law reform happen.

Since 1936 there have been eight attempts to get the UK Parliament to change the law. All have been soundly defeated. What sort of democracy
is that?

Numerous responsible court cases in London asking for different modifications of the right to die laws have been rebuffed.

Apparently more than 100 Brits have trekked to Switzerland in recent years to get a dignified assisted suicide. It’s disgraceful that the terminal have to flee their own country to die abroad.

The organization ‘Dying in Dignity’ (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, founded 1935) is calling for Dr. Nitschke’s deportation, which doesn’t show much unity among the right-to-die groups who, fundamentally, are united in their final objective.

Dr. Nitschke is taking advantage of the fact the Dying in Dignity is solely fixed on law reform (with zero success so far) and ignores the cries of those dying at the present who can’t wait for a rosier future.

Not that similar American groups are perfect, but at least they fight on two fronts at the same time: help the dying now and in the future. Guides are dispatched by request to a dying person and stay with them at their end.

So far we have brought lawful, medical, assisted dying to Oregon, Washington and Montana with more states in our sights.

In the mother country of democracy (Magna Carta etc) nobody will publish my ‘how-to’ book ‘Final Exit‘ nor Dr. Nitschke’s ‘Peaceful Pill Handbook’ because of the fear of prosecution if somebody used the books to end life. The books are not actually ‘banned’ but self-censored. So both books are extensively shipped into the UK by mail order, download and Amazon.com You have only to watch the Amazon sales rankings to witness how consistent is the demand for such literature.

Thus all the furor Dr. Nitschke is causing in Britain in well-deserved and in my view can only awaken the head-in-the-sand establishment and provoke long overdue law reform.

Derek Humphry

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