Euthanasia clinic touted for Fiji

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 11:17 24/08/2012

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Fiji is considering opening a euthanasia clinic where seriously ill Australians and New Zealanders can fly to for assisted suicides, Australian euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke says.

He has told the Age in Melbourne that the centre he proposes in the tourist city of Nadi would be like a similar clinic in Switzerland, where about 1000 foreigners have died since 1998.

In a proposal sent to military regime appointed attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Dr Nitschke said Fiji could generate "considerable income" with demand expected to come from people in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and India, who do not have access to physician-assisted suicide.

"As of 2011, only six Australians and no New Zealanders have travelled to use (Switzerland's) Dignitas service."

His group, Exit International said it would help to have a similar clinic on this side of the world.

He said given Dignitas charged about A$12,000 for its service and funerals could cost tens of thousands of dollars, the Fijian government could make money from government taxes on the service, local burial services and "ongoing tourism associated with remembrance of the loved one".

Dr Nitschke said only seriously ill patients who are found by a psychiatrist to be of sound mind would be approved to use the service.

If people met these criteria, a two-day cooling off period would apply before they could take lethal drugs under medical supervision.

In his letter Sayed-Khaiyum asked for a more detailed submission and said he looked forward to discussing the matter with Dr Nitschke in person.

The detailed submission is now with Fiji authorities.

If approved, he said a service could be set up within six months.

It would cost between A$5000 and A$8000 excluding airfares and depending on the Fiji government's taxes and charges.

He said fundraising for the project would not be a problem.

"There are some people with a lot of money who would love to see an option outside of Switzerland," he said.

"While Australia seems to mess around interminably with these pieces of legislation failing, the idea of being able to lawfully get on a plane to Fiji and have access to the best of the drugs and the knowledge of a peaceful, supervised death has a lot of appeal."

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