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The right to die or the right to kill?

by Karen Hitchcock, The Monthly, December 2015

Dr Hitchcock reflects on her appearance with Andrew Denton on the ABC’s Q & A programme.

Celebrity is our religion. Celebrities are our gurus, teaching us what to wear, what to buy, how to look and, now, what to think. They front campaigns for human rights and animal rights; they advocate for babies in war-torn countries. Now we even have the celebrity endorsement of euthanasia. Apparently Andrew Denton is an expert after eight months of research – less time than it takes to get a sommelier diploma from TAFE. Eight months, he repeats, as if this is extraordinary, as if this country is not full of people on both sides of the debate who have spent decades seriously considering the complex issues around euthanasia.

We’re both appearing on a TV show, for what he tells me backstage will be a “friendly discussion”. “I’m very nervous,” he says to me, the one with the dry mouth and sweaty palms, graciously adding, “I think you write like a dream.” On air, Denton declares that it’s time doctors started listening to their patients, all the while interrupting, dismissing and undercutting questions from the audience in a tone so patronising it would get a junior doctor hauled over the coals. I’m thinking, “Are we not allowed to countenance any doubts about euthanasia? Has it become a faith?”

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