Prominent Australian right-to-die campaigner Philip Nitschke said on Friday he wants to set up an assisted suicide clinic in Fiji, but the government in Suva downplayed the idea.
Nitschke, a doctor who has campaigned on euthanasia issues for more than a decade, wants the clinic to operate like the Dignitas center in Switzerland, where 144 people, virtually all of them foreigners, ended their lives last year.
Nitschke, head of Exit International, said the proposed clinic would make it easier for people from the Asia-Pacific who wanted to end their lives to do so, rather than having to travel to Europe.
“Given the logistical problems faced by those in the Asia-Pacific traveling to Europe when seriously ill, Exit would suggest that a mirror clinic is well warranted in this region of the world,” he said.
He said he had written to Fiji’s attorney-general who had asked for more details, and hopes his organization can go to the Pacific nation to discuss the idea.
“The reality is that it’s a very humane process, and a country which shows some compassion and concern for its neighbors, I think would entertain such ideas,” he said in a separate interview.
A Fiji government spokesman confirmed they received Nitschke’s proposal, but said it was highly unlikely a death clinic would be approved in the predominantly Christian nation.
“As with all submissions received by the attorney-general’s chambers, details of the proposal were requested. There is no plan to establish such a facility in Fiji,” she said.
Assisted suicide, or euthanasia, is banned in Australia, although it was legal for a time in the Northern Territory before the law was overturned in the 1990s.
When it was legal in the Northern Territory, Nitschke became the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, voluntary, lethal injection to end a life.
He said only seriously ill patients found by a psychiatrist to be of sound mind would be permitted to use the service proposed in Fiji.
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