Strange as well as worrying

23:48, Jul 28 2009

I was interested to read your article on euthanasia and, particularly, Dr Philip Nitschke.

Dr Nitschke, born in 1947, first graduated in physics, gaining a PhD in 1972. He later left science to become an effective activist for Aboriginal land rights. After a foot injury, he began his medical career, graduating in Sydney in 1988, aged 41.

After a two to three-year internship, he would have been able to practise independently. By 1996, he had become the world's first doctor to legally kill someone with a lethal injection; within just five or six years of independent medical experience, he had found his vocation as a euthanasia protagonist.

As far as I am aware, Dr Nitschke has no specialist experience, training or qualifications in medicine, geriatrics, counselling, psychology or palliative care.

I find it strange and worrying that a doctor with so little practical experience of his vocation can be so certain of his mind in such a fraught area of medicine, where medicine, science, religion, custom, ethics, emotion and society collide so fiercely.

Thirty-nine years' medical experience has taught me to beware people offering simple solutions to complicated problems; they invariably turn out to be quacks.

Dr JOHN K MONRO

Hataitai

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