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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Australian suicide tests euthanasia law
Nancy Crick, photo from http://www.protection.net.au/nancycrick/
Nancy Crick had terminal bowel cancer

A terminally ill Australian woman has carried out her promise to take her own life.

A brief statement from voluntary euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke said 70-year-old Nancy Crick committed suicide at her home on Queensland's Gold Coast.

It is believed a number of friends and family were with her when she died.

Her death is likely to test Australia's laws on euthanasia.

Time of her choosing

Mrs Crick reignited the euthanasia debate in Australia earlier this year by going public with her plans to commit suicide to escape the pain of terminal bowel cancer.

The great-grandmother recently postponed her decision, choosing to undergo extensive treatment in a Queensland hospital.

She said it made little difference to her condition and she declared last month that she intended to go ahead with her plans to kill herself.

In her final diary entry, Mrs Crick said she wanted to be able to die at the time of her choosing.

More than 20 friends and supporters were at her bedside when she died.

A spokesman for Australia's Voluntary Euthanasia Society said it was waiting to see what action - if any - the authorities would now take against those who were present.

Assisting a suicide is a crime in all Australian states and carries a sentence of up to life in prison.

'Peaceful and dignified'

Among those last to see Nancy Crick was Dr Nitschke.

He helped four terminally ill patients commit suicide in Australia's Northern Territory after mercy killings were briefly legalised in 1995.

The law was later overturned by the federal government.

Dr Nietschke said Nancy Crick's passing was peaceful and dignified.

Queensland police have said they have been informed of Mrs Crick's death and said the coroner would be launching an investigation.

Right to life campaigners have demanded a full inquiry.

See also:

23 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
28 Nov 00 | Euthanasia
16 May 02 | Europe
01 Apr 02 | Europe
12 May 02 | Health
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