MSP 'horrified' suicide doctor is to host Glasgow workshop
A CONTROVERSIAL doctor who gives tips on how people can end their own lives is to host a workshop in Glasgow on euthanasia next weekend.
As many as 20 people have signed up to the event hosted by Dr Philip Nitschke to be held in the Unitarian Church on Sauchiehall Street.
It is understood the Australian medic will show a video on using a gas-filled bag to die and will give advice on buying illegal barbiturates from Mexico.
Politicians and pro-euthanasia campaigners were joined in their "horror" at his visit.
Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald, who backs the introduction of a euthanasia bill, said she would never approve of his methods.
She said: "I imagine he is doing this for commendable reasons, but what he does still horrifies me.
"That people should be put in this position is one of the reasons why I'm trying to get dignity in dying and for people to have an exit from this world that is as stress-free as possible."
Dr Nitschke was allowed into the UK yesterday after hours of questioning at Heathrow Airport, having being banned from giving a talk in Singapore.
He is the inventor of a computer device, called the Deliverance Machine, which allows a seriously ill patient to kill themselves by answering a series of questions.
In the UK, assisted suicide is illegal, with a maximum punishment of 14 years in prison.
Dr Nitschke said censorship would lead to misleading guidance and insisted the information would be given only to adults.
He said: "You have to be aware of the permanent step you might take. It's got to be a person with significant life experience who is rational, who is of sound mind."
The doctor helped draw up legislation in the Northern Territory of Australia in 1996 which permitted euthanasia for the first time.
The law was overturned eight months later, but Dr Nitschke said seriously ill people continued to come to him for advice.
He sees no conflict in being a medical doctor who focuses on ways to end people's lives.
"It seems to me that if you're taking your medicine seriously you can't abandon somebody when they are at the very last stage," he said.
"Death and dying is a natural process. It's not a medical process, it's a natural process and we're all going to do it."
Dr Nitschke said he would like to see everyone over the age of 70 given lethal drugs to keep at home in case they became seriously ill and decided to take their own life.
He will stage four public meetings across the UK discussing euthanasia before "closed sessions" for members of his organisation, Exit International.
Those members, who must be aged over 50 or seriously ill, will then be given information on different ways to die.
Jeremy Purvis, Liberal Democrat MSP, said Dr Philip Nitschke was "not welcome" and would "undermine" the case for assisted suicide.
He said: "While I would defend his right to speak, his contribution is not helpful in this debate.
"We are looking for a change in the law, which is the right way to approach this issue."
Dr Nitschke plans to visit Bournemouth tomorrow, Brighton on Wednesday, Stroud on Friday, and Glasgow on Saturday.
• Former chief inspector of schools in England Chris Woodhead revealed yesterday he would rather kill himself than die in agony from motor neurone disease.
The 62-year-old, who was the top schools watchdog for six years until 2000 and had some fierce clashes with teaching unions, was diagnosed with the disease in 2006.
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