Media release by Care Alliance, 10 May 2016
Matthew Jansen, Secretary of the Care Alliance, has questioned the value of a Government-funded study by University of Auckland researchers Phillipa Malpas and Pam Oliver into attitudes of New Zealand doctors and nurses to the legalisation of so-called ‘assisted dying’.
Last year Mr Jansen revealed that survey participants were not being told that Drs Malpas and Oliver were members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, or that the study was being funded by the Health Research Council.
“The paper they are now distributing is a shabby conclusion to a deceptive beginning” said Mr Jansen. “Their paper slices and dices the numbers in ways that are highly misleading to a casual reader. For example, a small print footnote says that responses from people who ‘strongly disagreed’ with legalising assisted dying were excluded from subsequent analysis. The views of 175 doctors and nurses suddenly disappear from consideration by that sleight of hand alone. That is why their statement that 37 percent of doctors ‘strongly or mostly’ agree with legalising ‘assisted dying’ is simply untrue.”
Mr Jansen also noted that the authors say the survey was anonymous, but then disclose that four days’ worth of responses were removed ‘due to notice of two faked responses by a TVNZ journalist’. “Either it was anonymous or it wasn’t,” said Mr Jansen. “In fact, how do they know that any of the responses were done by doctors and nurses, and only done once per person?”
Mr Jansen said the report should be approached with intense scepticism. He noted, for example, the suggestion in figure 13 that 7.7 percent of doctors have hastened death by administering or supplying a lethal dose of medication is grossly misleading. “First, it is 12 out of 155 doctors, not the 368 doctors who completed the survey. Secondly, it appears to include medication given with the intention of relieving pain but that may have the effect of hastening death, which is standard, legal and ethical treatment right now.”
“Once again the euthanasia lobby is showing that it cannot be trusted with data and facts,” said Mr Jansen. “It’s all about scaring up some headlines, and hoping nobody digs deeper. This whole taxpayer-funded exercise has been a shambles from beginning to end.”