Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide: The 2017 General Election

David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill – which seeks to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide – still awaits debate in Parliament, which will take place sometime after our general election on 23 September 2017.

Ultimately, the outcome of Seymour’s Bill will be determined by the 121 Members of Parliament (MPs) that will be elected or re-elected to Parliament after the election. The political candidates and parties you vote for and where they stand on this issue will influence how many votes are for or against Seymour’s Bill.

With the election less than two weeks away, the Care Alliance invites you to consider euthanasia and assisted suicide as an election issue to take into account when you are deciding who to vote for.

See where the Party Leaders stand.

(Image Source: Value Your Vote 2017: Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide, Family First NZ.)

 

What can you do?

  • Write to or email your local candidates to ask them where they stand on this issue.
  • Drop by your local MPs office and say that this is an important issue for you.
  • Encourage friends and family members who can also vote in this election to consider this issue when they vote.

 

For more information on the issue, check out:

Palliative care gave me a better quality of life

by Áilín Quinlan, The Irish Examiner, 14 September 2017

“I was in a very dark place at the time, and up to that point, palliative care to me was synonymous with death and dying,” he [Donal Crowley] recalls.

“People think that palliative care is all about dying,” says Ann McAtamney, Assistant Director of Nursing and Palliative Care at Marymount Hospice, who has worked in this area for the past 26 years.

In fact, she says, “it is about helping people live a better quality of life with a life-limiting condition.”

Click here to read the full article.

Why are we so afraid of dementia?

by Peter Kevern, The Conversation, 21 September 2017

Peter Kevern is an Associate Professor in Values in Care, Staffordshire University.

There can be no doubt that it is frequently a terrible condition both for the patient and those close to them, robbing everyone of peace, dignity, enjoyment and hope, and crushing the spirits of carers over months or years of struggle. But the hold which the prospect of dementia has on our collective imagination may be rooted in something more fundamental than our fear of disease – it challenges our deepest cultural assumptions. We live in a “hypercognitive” society, as the medical ethicist Stephen Post termed it, in which rational thought and coherent memory are core values. If the measure of our humanity is “I think, therefore I am”, what is the human status of someone whose ability to think is impaired?

To create a society which values people with dementia, we need to create a culture which values people in general – something that will benefit us all.

Click here to read the full article.

Former medical association chiefs slam plans for voluntary euthanasia

by Benjamin Preiss, The Age, 20 September 2017

Mr Preiss is Education Reporter for The Age.

Now three past Victorian presidents of the Australian Medical Association – Stephen Parnis, Mukesh Haikerwal and Mark Yates – have united on the steps of Parliament to warn that the laws put the state’s most vulnerable patients at risk. They say they will be lobbying MPs right up until the bill is tabled. 

“This puts the most frail and vulnerable in our community – the dying – at profound risk,” Dr Parnis said. “They are at risk of coercion. They are at risk of not getting the medical care that they deserve and need.”

Click here to read the full article.

Why Are Assisted Suicide Bills Continuously Failing In The US?

A blog post in HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, 6 September 2017

HOPE is a coalition of groups and individuals who oppose the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide and support measures that will make euthanasia and assisted suicide unthinkable. 

23 consecutive failures at legislating in 2017 with no bill anywhere being successful. 

We are led to believe that change is not only inevitable but that it is essentially benign. Not so on either count. If it were so, then why, in the many bills presented in Australian Parliaments over the last few decades (I recently counted 44), have none succeeded?

Click here to read the full article.

Assisted dying laws pose a grave risk to the vulnerable

by Joel Hodge, The Age, 7 September 2017

Joel Hodge is a senior lecturer in the School of Theology at Australian Catholic University.

In a study of states with euthanasia law, published in Current Oncology, Dr J. Pereira writes that “laws and safeguards are regularly ignored and transgressed in all the jurisdictions and that transgressions are not prosecuted. For example, about 900 people annually are administered lethal substances without having given explicit consent, and in one jurisdiction, almost 50 per cent of cases of euthanasia are not reported.”

It is easy to underestimate the vulnerability of the elderly and dying, and the delicate human dynamics involved in caring for them. Whenever we are seriously ill, we are placed in a precarious position, heavily dependent on others and confronting all manner of fears.

Click here to read the full article.

The Contagion of Euthanasia and the Corruption of Compassion

by Arthur Goldberg and Shimon Cowen, The Public Discourse, 11 September 2017

Mr Goldberg is Co-Director of the American-based Jewish Institute for Global Awareness. Mr Cowen is Director of the Institute for Judaism and Civilization in Melbourne, Australia.

Humans do not live in isolation. The more our culture sends messages that some lives are less valuable than others, the more some people will internalize messages to end their lives. A psychological contagion of suicide is unleashed by euthanasia and assisted suicide laws. Condoning suicide in one circumstance implicitly condones it across the board. The wrong of suicide is no longer absolute: death is made a reasonable—even the expected—response to pain, misfortune, and sadness.

Click here to read the full article.

Narelle Henson: Complex matters of life and death

by Narelle Henson, Waikato Times, 15 September 2017

In fact, ACT’s David Seymour dismissed O’Connor’s claim using the example of suicidal young people, a group we are rightly fighting desperately to save in New Zealand. But in Belgium where euthanasia is legal, a suicidal young woman won the right to euthanasia. Why? Because the courts agree that death is a reasonable and good response to suffering – physical or mental.

When compassion means allowing some to choose death to relieve suffering, how can it also mean convincing others to live through it?

If we cannot answer these questions, then surely, we have to face the fact that what we are fighting with one hand, we are feeding with the other.

Click here to read the full article.

People near the end of life need the same protection as children

by Tony Walter, The Conversation, 7 September 2017

Tony Walter is a Professor of Death Studies at the University of Bath.

But in many societies, the approach to end of life care requires us to continue as active and responsible citizens for as long as our mental capacities allow – to make choices about what kind of care we want, and where. In anticipation of losing capacity, people are urged to act responsibly and make preferences known in advance while they are still able.

This approach to policy has not of course prevented a series of elder care scandals in hospitals and care homes in Britain. That is because these scandals were not about lack of choice, but about neglect and abandonment: patients not turned over in bed, food being left out of reach, residents not helped to the bathroom.

As well as badly structured and poorly funded health and social care systems, an underlying cause of these scandals may be traced to a blind spot in Western democracies. The single-minded valuing of individual autonomy fails those whose deteriorating body or mind compromises this very autonomy.

Click here to read the full article.

Words Matter

A blog post from HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, 4 September 2017

HOPE is a coalition of groups and individuals who oppose the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide and support measures that will make euthanasia and assisted suicide unthinkable. 

Unmistakeably, [sic] in acts of euthanasia, the subject person’s life is ended by the direct and deliberate action of a doctor who, by his or her actions, kills the person. Unmistakably also, a doctor who provides assistance (usually in the form of a prescribed lethal dose) so as to enable a person to take their own life using that substance, assists in their suicide.

Yet repeatedly over recent years we have seen the adoption of euphemisms that attempt to disguise these realities. Bill titles worldwide such as, ‘Death with Dignity’, ‘Dying with Dignity’, ‘End of Life Options’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Patient Choice at the End of Life’ have obfuscated the truth.

The intention is clear: words like ‘euthanasia’ and even ‘suicide’ in this context have a clear ‘yuk factor’. That may be so. But surely the public have a right to the truth and the political classes, an obligation to legislate factually. Options? Choices? Dignity? Really?

Click here to read the full article.

Life Lessons Disability Taught Me No.2 – Death

by Mik Scarlet, HuffPost UK, 16 August 2017

Mr Scarlet is a broadcaster, journalist, and musician.

This is the biggest thing I have learned about death; it happens at the end of life but it’s life that matters the most. The great leveller should also be the great motivator. Don’t ignore that you will die, and don’t be afraid of it either. If you live your life as well as you can when the reaper does finally come calling, you can die assured of a life well lived.

Click here to read the full article.