Right To Life New Zealand (RTLNZ) and the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards are spitting chips after the Revised International Edition of Dr Philip Nitschke’s Peaceful Pill Handbook was approved by the countries OFLC providing it only be sold sealed to those over the age of eighteen.
The original edition of the book was banned in NZ (as it is in Australia – PDF Descision Report), but changes made to the International Edition were enough to bring the censors on side.
RTLNZ says the fact Australia Refused Classification on the book and did not see fit to invite the authors of it to make amendments for reclassification is one of many reasons to keep the book banned in New Zealand.
‘It is contended that the only effective means available to prevent the book falling into the hands of a young person under the age of 18 years or a person who is depressed or suffering from a psychiatric condition, is to classify the book as objectionable. This would ensure that the book would be prevented from entering New Zealand. It would make it an offence under the FVPC Act to import the book by any means, including the internet. Furthermore, it could not be legally downloaded from the internet.‘
Thankfully, the NZ OFLC isn’t quite as influenced as ours. They state in their report:
By redacting the book rather than publishing an abridged edition, and by allowing the headings to remain, Dr Nitschke has allowed the reader to obtain a sense of the subject matter of original text, as well as the redacted material, without actually having access to that material and without compromising the book’s message.
The publication is a well-intentioned book that advocates law reform and gives advice to enable the seriously ill and elderly “to make carefully considered and fully informed decisions about their own life, and death.” This advice includes comparison of various means of suicide, which is not illegal. The book argues that the law should be changed to permit seriously ill and elderly people access to pentobarbital, a drug the authors consider to be the most dignified and peaceful means of suicide. When advocating law reform or a change in social perception, it is often necessary to describe the benefits of the thing or practice that is outlawed or stigmatised to get the law reformed or the perception changed.
But they also acknowledged concern over young people reading it:
The risk of imitation by young persons of the self-harm outlined in the book, particularly those less complicated methods of suicide such as the use of an exit-bag is, significant. Unless restricted to persons 18 years of age and over, this material is likely to be injurious to the public good because the general levels of emotional and intellectual development and maturity of persons under that age mean that the availability of the publication to those persons would be likely to cause them to be greatly disturbed or shocked and increase significantly the risk of them killing, or causing serious harm to, themselves, others, or both.
Looks a like a responsible and well considered move by the NZ OFLC. You can read their entire decision here (PDF).
A digital version of The Peaceful Pill Handbook is due for publication by Exit US soon.
Refused-Classification has a detailed run down of the Australian banning if you’d like to read more about that case.
About RTLNZ and SftPoCS:
Amongst issues such as abortion and euthanasia, Right To Life New Zealand also consider it their duty to advise on embryonic stem cell research, cloning, personhood, sex education, and the destruction of social norms that create a cohesive society.
Meanwhile, the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards are just plain, f’ing wackjobs. No, seriously click that link and read it. Don’t you want to hand your life over to these people?