GWENETH Nitschke believes she will live to see her son operating Australia’s first euthanasia clinic in Adelaide.
Not that the 90-year-old mother of voluntary euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke has a terminal illness.
She reluctantly moved into a northern Adelaide independent living centre last week after a fall at home, and although she has no major health problems, she is urging South Australian MPs to pass a bill allowing doctor-assisted euthanasia.
Dr Nitschke, the youngest of three children, quietly stopped in to check on his mother yesterday, as he scouted Adelaide’s suburbs for a suitable location to open a specialist euthanasia clinic.
He will spend two days in talks with prospective landlords, but will not disclose potential sites because he said the matter was as controversial as opening abortion clinics. “We really don’t want to go making it impossible to find a place,” he said.
“There is a degree of apprehension here, and people are starting to see this as an extension of the abortion clinic issue, where they fear they are going to be picketed.”
Dr Nitschke said a clinic would initially provide information on procedures required before a doctor could help a patient die, and be fully operational only if a proposed bill passed through both houses of the state parliament on a conscience vote.
The bill last week moved from the second reading stage into committee in the lower house, in what sponsors of the reform hailed as “historic”.
But right-wing Labor government MPs are opposed to the bill and Family First has threatened to withdraw election preferences from any MP who backs the bill.
Health Minister John Hill, who supported the bill last week during a speech about the death of his sister, yesterday said it was not designed to allow a stand-alone clinic. Labor MP Steph Key, who introduced the reworked bill, yesterday said Dr Nitschke’s plan was premature.