THE Catholic church has criticised a “DIY euthanasia” workshop and is calling on police to investigate the event.
Dr Philip Nitschke has hired church property for a “Practical Euthanasia Workshop,” aimed to inform people about possible end of life strategies.
He said he would inform people at the event in Edinburgh of “newly-developed, reliable, DIY end of life strategies that do not require travel toSwitzerland”.
But Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: “I would suggest the police may have a locus to investigate. They should satisfy themselves whether what is proposed comes within the terms of the law.”
Dr Nitschke, director of Exit International, claimed access to reliable methods to peacefully end your life was a human rights and freedom of speech issue.
He said: “The elderly and seriously ill have a right to know. Of course, most hope they will never need to take matters into their own hands, but they gain great comfort from knowing what to do to die peacefully and reliably if that time ever comes.”
Dr Nitschke said Exit took a “DIY approach” due to the constraints of the law.
“While suicide is not a crime, assisting someone to die is a serious crime which can result in a decade in jail.”
The workshop will take place at St Mark’s Art Space at St Mark’s Unitarian Church in Castle Terrace on Saturday November 19.
Dr Nitschke said the event would include information for the best euthanasia drugs available from China and Mexico and the dangers associated with incorrect euthanasia drug use.
When Dr Nitschke visited England in 2008, police said anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another” to commit suicide could face prosecution under the 1961 Suicide Act, which does not apply in Scotland.
But Dr Gordon Macdonald of campaign group Care Not Killing said there could still be questions over what happened at the workshop.
He said: “Depending on what he says, it could be deemed to be assisting suicide, which is illegal in Scotland.”
The Rev Ian Galloway, convenor of the Church of Scotland’s church and society council, said: “To reduce the conversation about life and death to a workshop on how to help someone to kill themselves demeans our common humanity.”
Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald, who is preparing to reintroduce a Bill in the Scottish Parliament to allow assisted suicide, distanced herself from Dr Nitschke.
She said: “Dr Nitschke will do nothing to prevent suicide. I will expect society and state to do everything possible to prevent a person committing suicide, unless in the narrow circumstances described in my Bill- that is, someone who is terminally ill, who knows there is no recovery and they are unlikely to achieve a peaceful and dignified death.”
The Rev Maud Robinson, minister of St Mark’s, said renting to Dr Nitschke was a commercial let. She said “We let out premises to various organisations. We have nothing to do with the event.
“Obviously if we thought the event was illegal, we would cancel it straight away. The police have looked into it and they have said that there is not problem with legality so it’s going ahead.”
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “We will investigate any allegation of criminality reported to us.”