Page last updated at 07:39 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 08:39 UK

Doctor defends suicide workshops

Dr Philip Nitschke
Dr Philip Nitschke has already held workshops in London and Bournemouth

A doctor from Australia who plans to hold a workshop in Gloucestershire about assisted suicide defended his right to speak about the issue.

Dr Philip Nitschke will speak in Stroud on Friday about what he calls the pros and cons of voluntary euthanasia.

Stroud's MP, David Drew, questioned Dr Nitschke's right to enter the country.

The doctor, who runs the organisation Exit International, was interviewed by the Home Office on arrival at Heathrow and given permission to stay in the UK.

'Legal risks'

Dr Nitschke said: "I've put a proposition to people that if you're over a certain age that it makes sense to think about and develop a practical end of life strategy.

"I explain that this makes sense because of the way the law is structured.

"If you get into serious trouble with your health and want to end suffering and have not put a plan in place, and then ask someone who cares for you to go and get drugs to give you a peaceful death - they face very serious legal risks.

"If you put a plan in place yourself - you don't break the law."

Lethal injections

David Drew, MP for Stroud, speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, said: "Given the current debate on who should be allowed to enter this country and who should not - would my right honourable friend take it up with the Home Secretary that some of us feel that this individual, who is quite openly encouraging people to break the law, let alone the abhorrence of his views and what he stands for, be added to the list."

Dr Nitschke, from Darwin, was the first doctor in the world to administer lethal injections to end four patients' lives after voluntary euthanasia was made legal in the Northern Territory of Australia in 1996.

The Australian federal government overturned the law nine months later.

The workshop is taking place at The Space in Stroud on Friday at 1000 BST on Friday.



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