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Euthanasia and Youtube
This contribution has been submitted to Webdiary by a student in the Online Journalism unit for the Masters in Media Practice and Masters in Publishing courses at The University of Sydney as part of the unit's assessment. The topics covered in the pieces awaiting publication are interesting – and diverse. We hope that Webdiarists will enjoy reading them, as well as giving these aspiring journalists plenty of constructive commentary.
Euthanasia and Youtube
In early August 2008, a video appeared on youtube.com showing a young Australian woman begging people to help her obtain the illegal euthanising drug, Nembutal.
The terminally ill girl called herself Ann, and appealed that she wanted to choose when to end her suffering.
Her name was Angelique Flowers.
Unwilling to die under such conditions, Ms Flowers embarked on a mission to obtain Nembutal (often referred to as ‘the peaceful pill’), and to appeal to the Australian Government to legalise euthanasia. She did so using the popular video-networking site, youtube.com.
Through Youtube she was able to infiltrate the Australian media. She was on the front page of the Sun-Herald, and the Age, and was one of the headlines on the television and radio news.
In her second video, Ms Flowers is lying on a bed, and for the most part of the video is describing in minute detail the unbearable pain and indignity of her illness.
“I’ve been robbed of my living and my now my dying,” she said. “All I want after 16 years of painful Crohn’s disease, and now cancer, is a pain-free, peaceful death”.
Towards the end of the tape, she appeals to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to reintroduce the legislation that made euthanasia lawful in the
The video prompted Green’s leader Bob Brown to launch a fresh euthanasia bill into the senate.
“Angelique's brave appeal should shame Australian politicians who ignore the 80% public support for euthanasia,” he said.
Margaret Tighe, President of the anti-euthanasia group, Right to Life, says that if euthanasia is legalised in
they could feel that they had the duty to die, rather than the right, they wouldn’t want to be a burden to their family.
“Legalising euthanasia would make it less urgent for us to care our sick and elderly,” Ms Tighe said.
In the video, Miss Flowers, thanks the pro-euthanasia organisation Exit International (who declined to comment for this story) for showing her the different end-of-life options.
There are many more video postings (all under the name: exityourtube) of others undertaking to end their life. They show people journeying to
Most are made by terminally ill people, who are desperate to die on their own terms. Many of them appeal to the Australian government to make euthanasia legal.
Ms Flowers was able to obtain Nembutal, but for reasons unknown, did not use it to end her life. She died on 19th August, 2008, from a predicted bowel obstruction. Following her death, and her Youtube appeal, euthanasia is once again a hot topic of public debate.
For better or worse, Youtube has given a voice to those who otherwise would not be heard by the masses. Stakeholders in climate change, whaling, political campaigns – and now euthanasia – use the site as a stage to broadcast their message. The personal nature of Youtube videos makes the delivery of the tragic messages from those tangled up in the euthanasia debate all the more confronting – and, as we’ve seen through Australia’s reaction to Ms Flowers’ video, all the more effective.