Australian Doctors Get Right to Assist Suicide
Meanwhile, at least five physicians and a medical student were swept up in the fast-moving investigation, officials said, including a doctor seized at an Australian airport with a one-way ticket. Many of the men had roots outside Britain with ties to Iraq, Jordan and India and worked together at hospitals in Scotland or England, officials said. British Broadcasting Corp. and Sky News identified a suspect badly burned in the failed attack on Glasgow airport as Khalid Ahmed , also a doctor. Police declined to confirm the identity, but had previously said the injured man was the driver of the Jeep that rammed the Scottish airport. He is hospitalized under armed guard. At least four of the eight suspects were identified as doctors from Iraq, Jordan and India. One of the doctors from India, 27-year-old Muhammad Haneef, was arrested late Monday at the international airport in the Australian city of Brisbane, where he was trying to board a flight, the Australian attorney general said. Staff at a Glasgow hospital confirmed that two of the others detained were a junior doctor and a medical student. Mark Shone, a spokesman for Halton Hospital in England, said Haneef worked there in 2005 as a temporary doctor, coming in when needed. He also confirmed a 26-year-old man arrested in Liverpool late Saturday also Indian practiced at the hospital. A 26-year-old suspect arrested in Liverpool also worked at the Halton Hospital, as well as the nearby Warrington Hospital , Shone said. He offered no other details.
Still, he did force himself out of the apartment this year — to lobby his neighbors in Darwin, Australia’s northernmost city, the gateway to the parched red soil of the outback, for passage of a bill that would allow his doctors to help him die. “What I fear is a long, agonizing death,” said Mr. Nickson, 54 and single, a former theater company director who found himself a spokesman for legislation that has turned the Northern Territory of Australia into the first jurisdiction in the world to allow doctors to take the lives of terminally ill patients who wish to die. After the bill was passed last spring in the territorial parliament, Mr. Nickson said: “I felt relief. I can get on with living and know that I can be helped if the time comes.” The legislation is history-making, with the first terminally ill patients expected to make use of the law later this year, and it has drawn an outcry from the Australian Medical Association, church leaders and anti-euthanasia groups. Under the law, a patient whose illness has been diagnosed as terminal by two doctors can ask for death, usually by pill or lethal injection, to put an end to suffering. At least one of the doctors must have a background in psychiatry, and a patient must wait at least nine days — a “cooling-off period” — before the request can be met. Opponents of the bill say it could turn Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, into the world’s suicide capital, with patients coming from around the world to this sparsely populated corner of Australia in the knowledge that someone will help them to die. Although individual doctors have come forward to say they would be willing to carry out the law, major doctors’ groups have opposed the bill because, they say, it is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath for doctors to be put in the position of deciding to end a life. Margaret Tighe, chairwoman of Right to Life Australia, said the bill would encourage families to put pressure on aging or mentally ill relatives literally to sign away their lives. “The people who are most vulnerable and least able to speak up for themselves are the ones who will lose their lives in this,” Mrs. Tighe said. “People who don’t think that’s the case are being terribly naive.” The Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Sydney, the nation’s largest city, said in a statement that the bill “in no way resolves the most fundamental issue of all — and that is that no one in society ought to have the right to end someone else’s life.” While euthanasia is legal to some degree in several nations, no place has gone quite so far as the Northern Territory, an area twice the size of Texas with a population of 160,000, about half of them in Darwin. It is Australia’s last frontier.