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Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Articles

Note: Oregon is the only state in the United States that has legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide

Australian "Dr. Death" Creates New "Death Machine"
Source: Focus on the Family, January 8, 2003
By Steve Jordahl, correspondent

Canberra, Australia -- The Australian version of Jack Kevorkian has developed his own "death machine." Australia's "doctor of death," Philip Nitschke, has developed a new death machine. Unlike other devices that need to be administered by a doctor, this one is simple enough to operate alone. The device pumps pure carbon monoxide into a mask, causing asphyxiation in a matter of minutes. Wendy Wright, senior policy director of Concerned Women for America, said it is the latest gadget from a man looking for publicity. "He likes to promote himself by promoting death," Wright said. The "death machine" can also pump pure oxygen, a feature Nitschke cynically added to "frustrate any attempts at legislative control." Wright said that's particularly evil.
"His new device is not even being marketed to people who are in pain or who are terminally ill," Wright said. "He claims it would only be available for people who have been members of his club for a year." According to the National Institute of Mental Health, almost 10 percent of the population suffers from clinical depression. Dr. John Kilner, president of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, said that makes Nitschke's machine all the more sinister. "Particularly for those who have genuine depression, giving these kind of tools and gadgets is quite dangerous," Kilner said.
Though advocates of assisted suicide often refer to it as "death with dignity," Kilner said that is a misnomer. "To throw away the gift of life because it's not quite the brand we wanted, is really to lose our dignity, not to preserve it," Kilner said. The Hemlock Society -- the world's premier euthanasia advocate -- claims it doesn't know anything about Nitschke's machine, but he says it was built with their research funds. The device costs only $50.

More About Nitschke's "Death Machine"

Source: Associated Press; January 12, 2003
San Diego, CA -- An Australian assisted suicide advocate plans to build a new machine for people to kill themselves with carbon monoxide after his prototype was seized as he left his native country, he told a euthanasia conference Sunday. Philip Nitschke also said he intended to challenge the Australian law banning the exportation of any device that could be used to assist in suicide. He said Australian customs agents in Sydney seized his COGen machine Thursday as he prepared to leave for San Diego to unveil the device before a national meeting of the Hemlock Society. "They were waiting for me. It's clear," he said. "We'd been quite public about bringing the machine to the U.S. to demonstrate it."
Nitschke said the law cited in seizing the machine could lead to ``ridiculous'' interpretations. ``Why don't they take my belt and shoe laces?'' he said. Nitschke said he and U.S. supporters intend to build another suicide machine in the United States. The device consists of a coffee-can-sized canister, an intravenous drip bag and nasal prongs. Chemicals are combined in the canister to produce carbon monoxide, which is inhaled. It has not been tested, but Nitschke estimated it would render a person unconscious within minutes and cause death in 30 minutes to an hour. More than $11,000 was spent to develop the patented device, which Nitschke said would cost about $100 per unit to produce. He hoped to make it available free of charge to members of organizations such as Exit, the Australian pro-euthanasia group he helped found. "We weren't planning to make money from it," he said.
Derek Humphry, who founded the pro-assisted suicide Hemlock Society, said he looked forward to seeing the device. "It has all the essential elements of being simple, transportable and the patients use it themselves. ... This type of machine cuts out the legal risk." The new machine allows a person to kill himself without assistance, circumventing laws against assisted suicide, Nitschke said.
An earlier system developed by Nitschke included a syringe that administered a lethal injection at the push of a button on a laptop computer. The device was used by four terminally ill people between July 1996 and March 1997 when a short-lived law permitted voluntary euthanasia in Australia's Northern Territory. The device used by American euthanasia advocate Jack Kevorkian worked with compressed carbon monoxide, which is hard to obtain and transport, Nitschke said, while his machine produces the toxic gas itself. Kevorkian is serving a 10- to 25-year prison sentence for murder in the 1998 injection death of Thomas Youk. Speaking to about 200 people at the Hemlock Society meeting, Nitschke called Kevorkian "a hero." "Hell, he might have made some mistakes, but did he move the movement forward? Of course he did," Nitschke said to enthusiastic applause.
The group of mostly senior citizens represents the future of society's attitudes about euthanasia, according to Nitschke and others who predict that as the Baby Boom generation ages, there will be increasing support for individual control over one's manner of death. "There's a wave of baby boomers hitting this period of time," Nitschke said. "They're used to getting what they want. They're used to having political clout." Nitschke's appearance drew protests from the California Life Coalition, which called his invention "ghoulish." "Instead of helping people overcome their problems, he can only help to murder them," coalition director Cheryl Sullenger said in a statement. "Murder does not solve anything and only creates more of the human misery these people seek to avoid."

The Church Can't Be Silent in Face of Legal Euthanasia

Addressing more than 2 million faithful gathered for Mass in Poland last August, Pope John Paul II warned of dangers posed when man "puts himself in God's place." The Pope's message in his sermon was a somber warning about a future where a lack of respect for life was leading the world to destruction. Modern man often "lives as if God does not exist," the Pope warned, "and even puts himself in God's place," referring to genetic engineering and euthanasia. "He claims for himself the Creator's right to interfere in the mystery of human life. He wishes to determine human life through genetic manipulation and establish the limit of death," Pope John Paul said.
Pope John Paul II also warned about the dangers of euthanasia, when he received the new Belgian ambassador to the Vatican. Belgium is the second country, after the Netherlands, to legalize this type of killing. In his October address to career diplomat Benoit Cardon De Lichtbuer, the Pontiff said that man, "created by God and called to share in His divine life, has always been at the center of the Christian vision of the world. For this reason the Church respects and defends the gift of life.” “How could she fail to express her intense disquiet and rejection of the laws recently passed in several countries legalizing active euthanasia?" the Holy Father asked. "In a society, where all too often only good health and economic profit seem to matter, it is important to take a different look at the persons who are feeble or nearing the end of their lives… setting up and developing palliative treatment for all the sick whose situation requires it," he added. This care "makes it possible to relieve pain and to accompany the dying with dignity," the Pope explained.

The following is from an article by Bradley Mattes of Life Issues Institute:
“Back in the 70s, those of us who were in the pro-life movement warned that euthanasia would follow abortion surely as night follows day. Here’s a brief update on what’s been happening around the world. Officials in the Netherlands have looked the other way as physicians practiced active euthanasia. In the beginning, eight carefully crafted guidelines were issued by the Dutch Minister for health to prevent abuse. Physicians had to abide by them to avoid prosecution. One by one, each and every protective guideline was eventually ignored until the carefully structured voluntary euthanasia program degenerated into patients being killed without their knowledge or consent. I have lectured in Holland on several occasions and have spoken with physicians who relayed first-hand situations where patients were being killed contrary to their wishes. The Dutch Patients Association is now hired by patients in the hospital to make sure they don’t fall victim to euthanasia. A Dutch government study showed that of 130,000 annual deaths, 25,306 (20%) involved euthanasia. Of the euthanasia cases, 14,691 deaths (58%) involved involuntary euthanasia. Of these, 1,000 died by active injections, 4,941 succumbed to morphine given in increasing doses to cause death and 8,750 died when their life-prolonging treatment stopped with the intention to cause death. Contrary to these findings, the Dutch Parliament recently officially legalized euthanasia. Belgium soon followed the lead of the Netherlands and also legalized euthanasia. The new law, which passed 86 to 51 with 10 abstentions, allows the killing of patients who are either terminally ill or simply depressed. There has been an aggressive push to make it legal in Switzerland also. Australia flirted with death when the Northern Territory legalized euthanasia, but was later reversed by the federal government. Pro-euthanasia forces have also made alarming gains right here in America. California and Maine narrowly defeated referenda on assisted suicide. Tragically, Oregon passed a physician-assisted suicide law and, to date, over 90 people have been legally killed. Of those opting for suicide, only one has indicated physical pain as the reason. Recently, Hawaii barely avoided legalizing euthanasia.
Contrary to what you might think, pain is not the most common reason people request euthanasia. The number one motivation is psychological pain, which can now be successfully treated 95% of the time. Our answer to depressed and terminally ill patients should not be syringes of poison and lethal pills. Science is well equipped to relieve their emotional and physical pain. As a result, we should concentrate on killing the pain, not the patient. This can be done with effective and compassionate palliative care. When we effectively address the physical and psychological needs of a dying patient, the desire for euthanasia fades away. The recent international victories of pro-death forces should serve as a sobering wakeup call to millions of Americans. As we have witnessed, pro-euthanasia organizations in our own country, encouraged by the success of their international counterparts, are determined to pursue their quest for a “good” death.” (end of article)

Dr. J. C. Willke of the Institute stated in a brochure on euthanasia, “Hippocrates lived before the time of Christ. Prior to his time, the medical practitioner had a dual role. One was to cure. One was to kill. The great contribution of Hippocrates, which passed into the Christian era and guided the medical profession for the next two millennia, was to separate the curing and killing functions of the physician. Henceforth, a physician would only cure. Down through the centuries in the Hippocratic oath has come the phrase, primum non nocere, "First do no harm." Now the oath of Hippocrates is no longer sworn by graduating medical students. With abortion, and the onrush of euthanasia, doctors, tragically, have again assumed that dual role.”
The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in their Declaration on Euthanasia in 1980, “What a sick person needs, besides medical care, is love, the human and supernatural warmth with which the sick person can and ought to be surrounded by; all those close to him or her, parents and children, doctors and nurses.” We must be like Christ and reach out to those in need. Love them as Christ loves us.

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