New Zealanders at Euthanasia 2016 conference

by Matthew Jansen, Care Alliance, 12 May 2016

The Euthanasia 2016 conference starts in Amsterdam this morning (New Zealand time).

It is the World Federation of Right to Die Societies biennial conference, organised on its behalf by NVVE, the Dutch Right to Die Society which is currently campaigning for all people over 70 years old to have access to a ‘suicide pill’ as of right.

Three New Zealanders are scheduled to speak at the conference.

University of Auckland researcher Dr Pam Oliver will present a paper about how “to improve legislation in order to reduce barriers to assisted dying”.

… in most jurisdictions, a relatively small number of doctors provide AD services, which can add an emotional burden for them and lead to further access problems for people seeking AD. In Switzerland, The Netherlands and Belgium, many of these barriers have been addressed through the tactical efforts of non- governmental organisations (EXIT, Dignitas, SCEN and the Levenseindeklinik, LEIF and the ULteam) that have developed systems to manage the barriers. However their work is often not sufficiently supported or authorised directly through the statutes or regulations. 

In this presentation, I will explore possibilities for addressing access barriers through modified statutory provisions and discuss how this might be achieved in new or existing legislation.

Slippery slope? No no no: just “removing barriers” to help those poor few doctors with their heavy workloads.

Former MP and Honorary Life Member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society Ms Maryan Street will present a paper on ‘New Zealand’s legislative journey in the quest for lawful end of life choices’.

Another MP emerged to promote the issue and we have been working with him to promote our Bill or one very like it. Differences amongst supporters in what is politically achievable have emerged which have required VESNZ to take a position on other Bills which are being developed. This has caused tactical and strategic discussions about how best we might achieve our aims and over what timeframe. All of that influences how we are structuring and conducting our campaign.

It will be fascinating to hear what David Seymour thinks about all of that.

Ms Carole Sweney is National Secretary of New Zealand’s Voluntary Euthanasia Society and Secretary of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. She will be part of a panel considering ‘What’s in a name? Terms and Definitions in the End of Life debate’. One of her fellow panellists is Bill Simmons, an American  attorney who is promoting the use of the invented word ‘dignicide’:

Following the 2014 World Federation conference in Chicago, a group of attendees worked to find a substitute for the the term “suicide” when applied to a rational, dignified and self-chosen death. This “Alt Suicide Group” recommended the term Dying with Dignity, or Death with Dignity. At the same time a new term was discussed, “dignicide.” It was not chosen; however some of the Group liked it. Discussion continues about dignicide because it does get the concept across that such a death is much different than suicide, and it is a one word counter to that undesirable word.

Or, given that they are all attending the Euthanasia 2016 conference, they could just agree to use that accurate term in their home countries rather than rely on euphemisms to disguise the reality.