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Understanding freedom of conscience

by Brian Bird, Policy Options, 2 August 2017

Conscience is about living in alignment with our moral judgments, regardless of where they come from.

If moral freedom is what freedom of conscience protects, why we protect this freedom boils down to the fact that conscience touches on core moral commitments that sustain our identity and integrity — who I am and what I stand for.  Professionals faced with a crisis of conscience have two unattractive choices: resign or violate these commitments. If they choose the latter, they commit a harmful act of self-betrayal.  The concept of “moral injury” has been studied in the context of military personnel who return home after committing acts on the battlefield that violated their moral compass. Moral injury can also occur in less harrowing circumstances.  A physician in Ontario, Natalia Novosedlik,  revealed in an interview that she violated her conscience by making an effective referral — a decision that, after the fact, caused a “really internally divisive experience” for her.

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Politicians wrestle with doctors’ consciences in Victoria

by Paul Russell, MercatorNet, 20 April 2017

Would it be an “obstruction” if a doctor actively attempted to dissuade a person away from assisted suicide or euthanasia – even if only for a short time – for the sake of trying a different approach to their illness or their pain management? The article is silent on this as I expect will be the report. Yet precisely that kind of ethical and moral disuassion saved the life of Janette Hall in Oregon who has survived her prognosis by 14 years after taking the sound advice of her doctor.

Could it not also be the case that even a doctor who held no such conscientious objection might not fall foul of “obstruction” by way of wise advice to the effect that maybe waiting for a little while – for a myriad of good reasons – might not be a better course of action?

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Palliative care experts say euthanasia goes against core belief that death and dying are ‘natural part of life’

by Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 May 2018

We don’t talk enough about dying and we need to change that. We think it would help if people knew a bit more about the actual process of dying and what to expect
We suspect a lot of the current debate is fueled by fear of the unknown, and a lack of information about what care is available and what actually happens when someone dies.

“In our experience a good safe death is peaceful, dignified and a natural process.

“People advocating for a law change talk about choice, compassion, and dignity, as if euthanasia were the only way to achieve these things. But these are the founding tenets of Hospice services: you can have choice, compassion, and dignity at the end of your life, and you don’t have to kill yourself for them, or have someone kill you to achieve this.”

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Judge Rules California’s Assisted Suicide Law Unconstitutional

by Life Legal, 15 May 2018

A California judge ruled that the California state legislature acted outside the scope of its authority when it enacted the End of Life Option Act, which allows physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to their patients.

Riverside Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia agreed, holding that “the End of Life Option Act does not fall within the scope of access to healthcare services,” and that it “is not a matter of health care funding.”

Stephanie Packer, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, was present at the hearing. After the End of Life Option Act was implemented, Stephanie’s insurance company denied coverage of life-saving chemotherapy treatment, but said it would pay for “aid-in-dying” drugs, which would cost $1.20.

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Leading Disability Rights Campaigner Warns Against the Introduction of Assisted Suicide

by Care for Life, 11 May 2018

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said that removing universal safeguards was dangerous and risked vulnerable and disabled people becoming “collateral damage” as no law was “perfect”.

Tanni was born with spina-bifida and is a wheelchair user. She is one of the UK’s most successful disabled athletes, winning 11 Paralympic gold medals and breaking 30 records.

In a deeply personal section she talked how it was possible for any of disable person to feel low and a burden on their friends and family. “The voices of disabled people, particularly matter on this subject of life and death. The simple truth is that there is no safe law for assisted suicide and disabled people are particularly vulnerable if such a law is passed. ”

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Opinion polarised on End of Life Choice Bill

by Nicki Harper, Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 May 2018

“What everybody is trying to do deal with, like me, is that while it’s true there are some people who have difficult deaths is legislation the right mechanism to help those people?” said Yule.

In an effort to gather as much information as he could, he said he had talked to many people on both sides of the debate, but that his final decision once the bill was in its final form would not be made on the issue of freedom of choice.

“It will be made on whether there is undue suffering potentially being endured and whether that is acceptable or not.

“It’s a moral dilemma around the very big call to take someone’s life early versus the suffering they may be under – I think that will be the crunch of it when it comes to the select committee.”

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The deadly push for assisted suicide

by Julie Hocker, The Washington Times, 13 May 2018

First, assisted suicide bills create a scale to determine those individuals a state will protect and those who are deemed less valuable. With a yardstick created by well-paid death advocates, doctors will legally determine if a fellow New Yorker fits into the category of “better off dead.”

And while proponents of this bill will tell you the bill addresses intolerable suffering, 20 years of data from Oregon (the “pioneer state” for assisted suicide) tell us that three out of four people who ask their doctors for help committing suicide do so because they feel they have become too great a burden to their loved ones or miss participating in daily activities without assistance.

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The dangerous ideology of ‘rational suicide’

by Michael Cook, MercatorNet, 11 May 2018

Although Dr Goodall was healthy enough, considering his age, he did not seem well supported in day-to-day life. The turning point for him seemed to be a fall in his one-bedroom flat. Although he did not break any bones, he was unable to get up from the floor and remained there for two days. Two days without visitors, not even relatives? Something was wrong.

Although the extensive media coverage about his decision focused on airport hugs from his grandsons, Goodall’s family life must have been less than satisfactory. He had been through three marriages. None of his four children and 12 grandchildren accompanied him on his trip to Switzerland. Instead, his travelling companion was the West Australian coordinator of Exit.

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Legalising voluntary euthanasia a slippery slope: Geriatrician

by Anneke Smith, Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 May 2018

His biggest concern was that doctors and nurses would become too relaxed about the due processes in place and end the lives of those who either didn’t want euthanasia or weren’t eligible.

“A person might have a severe disability or illness which qualifies him or her for euthanasia but what do you do about the next person comes along who has not quite got the same symptoms and signs as earlier ones but is also demanding euthanasia?

“Over a period of time you get this thing called incrementalism, gradual development where what started as a small issue become a major issue in society.”

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Being exquisitely careful…

by Henry Cooke, Stuff, 22 May 2018

Tawa doctor and chair of the Health Professionals Alliance Catherine Hallagan submitted strongly against the bill.

“It is a bad bill that cannot be fixed,” Hallagan said.

She said doctors and other health professionals did not want the law. No safeguards built into the law would be sufficient to make sure patients were not being coerced into choosing death by family or others.

“Doctors cannot prove that coercion does not exist,” Hallagan.

Sinead Donnelly, a palliative care doctor, agreed with Hallagan, saying coercion would be impossible to avoid.

“We have no doubt that coercion occurs in daily life. The older, the mentally ill, the frail, are more susceptible to coercion, which can be extremely subtle,” Donnelly said.

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