Euthanasia campaigners have distanced themselves from the activities of Dr Phillip Nitschke, nicknamed Dr Death because of the suicide methods he promotes.
Dr Michael Irwin, formerly the chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, in the past worked with Dr Nitschke in campaigning for legalised assisted suicide.
However, he has now spoken out against Dr Nitschke’s recent behaviour, which he calls “totally irresponsible”.
Dr Nitschke last week ran a series of workshops around the UK at which he told people how they could obtain a lethal drug called Nembutal which is illegal for human use here.
Dr Irwin has himself admitted to helping several terminally-ill patients to die. However, he says he is totally opposed to “easy-access Nembutal”, which he says he has managed to obtain without any difficulty by post, in a package marked “vet supply”.
“It is too easy for it to get in the hands of a depressed – rather than terminally-ill – person, or even in the hands of someone who wants to murder someone else,” he told one newspaper.
Other assisted suicide campaigners have also distanced themselves from Dr Nitschke’s activities.
MSP Margo MacDonald, who is currently pushing for legalised assisted suicide in Scotland, and multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, who recently lost a court case challenging the assisted suicide ban, have both denounced Dr Nitschke’s methods.
However, pro-life campaigners argue that allowing assisted suicide under any circumstances would put vulnerable people at risk.
Dr Irwin admitted in his interview that he had pulled out of a trip to Mexico to purchase Nembutal with ten people contemplating an assisted suicide because some of them were “totally unsuitable”.
One 30-year-old man on the trip was bisexual and HIV positive, but did not have Aids. “He was depressed, but it would have been totally wrong to help him commit suicide,” said Dr Irwin.
Another man was travelling with the group to obtain Nembutal for his wife, who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Irwin said that for this man to give his wife the drug “would have been straightforward murder or manslaughter”.