Kathryn Lopez

"Foolproofing Suicide with Euthanasia Test Kits." The matter-of-fact headline should chill you, especially since it didn't appear in some fringe publication or advocacy magazine.

It appeared in Time magazine.

"When someone with a terminal illness decides to end their life by overdosing on barbiturates, they hope the drugs will lull them into a peaceful and permanent sleep," the article began.

But if these drugs have expired or are not dosed properly, "the would-be suicide victim may actually survive," although possibly in a coma.

Thank heavens (yes, that was sarcasm), euthanasia advocates plan "to sell barbiturate-testing kits to confirm that deadly drug cocktails are, in fact, deadly."

The kits debut in Britain in May for $50.

The "seriously ill" don't want to mess around when they're trying to kill themselves, says Dr. Philip Nitschke. "They want to know they have the right concentration of drugs so that if they take them in the suggested way, it will provide them with a peaceful death."

I spoke with Nitschke in 2001. At the time, he was already being referred to as Australia's "Dr. Death," a label he was proud of: "People only start calling you names if and when you become effective."

When I asked him who he aimed to help kill themselves, he explained that if one has the right to live, one should also have the right to die, and have the means to do it. "Someone needs to provide this knowledge, training or recourse necessary to anyone who wants it, including the depressed, the elderly bereaved (and) the troubled teen. If we are to remain consistent and we believe that the individual has the right to dispose of their life, we should not erect artificial barriers in the way of sub-groups who don't meet our criteria."

Thanks to the tireless work of Wesley J. Smith, a consumer advocate turned defender of human life, that interview has caused some trouble for Nitschke in his native Australia as he's crusaded to make euthanasia legal. That Time magazine -- a major publication with a national, if not global, reach -- would consider covering a doctor who has advocated the right of troubled teenagers to kill themselves should set off all sorts of alarm bells.

Especially since assisted suicide is not academic theory but a reality. Following in the footsteps of Oregon, Washington State's Dignity with Death Act went into effect in March. Physician-assisted suicide with a lethal dose of medication is now legal there for adults who are expected to die within six months.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.