Homepage, News

Dutch euthanasia doctor agrees that there is a slippery slope

“Anti-euthanasia lobbyists want the public to believe in the inevitability of the slippery slope, but their fears are unwarranted,” wrote a Canadian doctor earlier this year.

Where better to test this than the Netherlands?

 In 2019, according to the official figures, there were 6,361 cases of euthanasia – 4.2 percent of all deaths. In other words, one out of 25 people are killed by doctors in the Netherlands. And those are just the official figures. It is widely accepted that a good number of euthanasia deaths are not reported, mostly because doctors don’t like the extra paperwork involved.

How do Dutch euthanasia doctors feel about this?

Pretty good, actually. Well, at least one of them.

Writing in the NTGV, the Dutch Medical Association Journal, Dr Bert Keizer reflects on the history of Dutch euthanasia. Somewhat surprisingly, he endorses the notion that euthanasia is a “slippery slope”. Better said, he embraces it….

Read more: https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/dutch-euthanasia-doctor-agrees-that-there-is-a-slippery-slope/13534

Homepage, News

Legalising assisted dying can actually increase suicides – Prof Theo Boer

LAST week I addressed a group of Parliamentarians about assisted suicide and euthanasia. My talk, which coincided with World Suicide Prevention day, sought to address the unintended consequences of legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia in the Netherlands.

One of the arguments we hear is that assisted dying will bring down the numbers of violent suicides. It will provide a more peaceful death to patients in unbearable suffering who would otherwise have violently killed themselves. For other patients, the mere option of assisted dying (even if it will never be effectuated) is said to be a reassuring thought that will keep them from killing themselves.

I admit that these arguments may hold in individual cases. However, on the whole, the argument is mistaken….

Read more: https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/legalising-assisted-dying-can-actually-increase-suicides/

Homepage, News

No assistance for euthanasia at hospice

Otago Community Hospice has decided it will be a euthanasia-free service, should the public vote in favour of the End of Life Choice Act in the coming referendum.

“We will continue to support all our patients and families using the principles of excellent palliative care, but our staff will not assess eligibility for assisted dying, nor deliver or be present during the administration of lethal doses of medication,” hospice chief executive Ginny Green said.

“Furthermore, these medications cannot be administered by anyone on any of our premises”…

Read full article: https://www.odt.co.nz/news/decision-2020/no-assistance-euthanasia-hospice

Homepage, News

Assisted dying’s inequity problem

Emergency medicine resident medical officer Carmen Chan shares her concerns about euthanasia as an equity problem and explains how it broadens the gap in health outcomes for those already having trouble getting fair access to care.

I’m awake at 5am and writing this before my shift starts. As a doctor, euthanasia weighs on my mind. Death’s not an easy topic to broach but we need to start talking about it – now. In a few weeks, along with voting in a government, we’ll be making some hefty decisions around how we approach the end of life as a society.

If you had asked me as a medical student some years ago, I would have told you that I supported the proposed End of Life Choice Act. We put down our animals when they are suffering. Who’s to say that we can’t have the right to control how we end our own lives when we live with a terminal illness? But now as a practising clinician, I have many doubts about the proposed law on euthanasia. The conversation is much more complex and nuanced than what you’ll commonly read in the media – which is why I feel the need to speak out….

Read full article:

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/assisted-dyings-inequity-problem
Homepage, News

Assisted dying would ‘erode the trust’ between doctor and patient

By Michael Hayward, Stuff.co.nz, 13th November 2019

Phil Bagshaw, a Christchurch surgeon, is concerned that if the End of Life Choice Bill becomes law, it will erode the trust between doctors and their patients. He said he could not support any version of the bill.

“If terminally-ill people were deteriorating, there were ways to keep them comfortable and without distress, and to ease their death… it could be done by experts but it was “somewhat costly”, although the Government could afford it. Palliative services should be available to anyone who needed them, he said. 

He was concerned about a condition of the bill that said only those with “a terminal illness that is likely to end the person’s life within six months” would be able to ask for access to assisted dying, as it was “almost an impossibility to say with any degree of certainty” how long someone who was terminally ill had to live.

Bagshaw also raised concerns about the bill going to public referendum. He said the issue was complicated and thought “pressure groups” on both sides would promote it as more simple than it was.

“They [the public] will hear both sides from two groups, both of whom have strong views and will put those views across in a powerful way, and I think it will be very difficult for most people to discern what is the common sense way out of what is in fact a difficult situation.”

Read the full article here.

Homepage, News

Why I oppose the End of Life Choice Bill, in plain English

By Bill English, Stuff.co.nz, 13th November 2019

Former Prime Minister Sir Bill English has opposed the End of Life Choice Bill since its first reading.

“This bill, if it passes, will make New Zealand a less safe place for the old, the vulnerable, the depressed and the disabled”.

He gives, “Five reasons why this bill will not deliver compassion. Five reasons to vote No.”

Read the full article here.

Homepage, News

Major gaps persist in knowledge of the practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia

By Michael Cooke, BioEdge, 10th November 2019

More research must be undertaken about the decision making process and consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and how this legislation “affects societal discourses regarding palliative care, suffering, old age and dying.”

Currently, research into euthanasia is difficult as some jurisdictions have no legally required reporting procedures, with some forbidding the mention of euthanasia as the cause of death on the death certificate. Euthanasia legislation “suffers from an under- reporting bias. Studies have estimated that, even several years after legalisation, from 1/5 (the Netherlands) to 1/3 (Belgium) [of] cases is [sic] not reported.”

“More in-depth knowledge overall is needed into the MAiD [Medical Aid in Dying] decision- making process, especially concerning vulnerable population groups such as the oldest old and people suffering from severe mental illness … most research on MAiD practice has been limited to interviewing or surveying physicians. More research exploring the narratives from patients and patients’ relatives is particularly needed to gain a more complete picture.”

There is an “important gap in our understanding of the process and consequences of the practice”. The influence of legalising euthanasia on palliative care, and patients feel pressure, fearing being a burden to relatives and society, must be examined.

Read the full article here.

Homepage, News

Teen says she maybe only knew her dad because euthanasia wasn’t legal

By Tom Hunt, Stuff,co.nz, 13th November 2019

“Glenn Major was a soccer dad and it’s down to him his 17-year-old daughter now represents Waikato and Bay of Plenty in the beautiful game. He doesn’t know this. He died nine years ago.”

“His daughter Rachel believes that if euthanasia had been legal when she was aged one there was a chance she would have never got to know her dad for the nine years they did have.”

“Rachel on Tuesday had a long list delivered to MPs, essentially asking if they realised how few safeguards there were in the  proposed final version of the End of Life Choice Bill. “

Read more here.

Homepage, News

New Zealand’s euthanasia bill is a step into the unknown for disabled people

By Wendi Wicks, The Guardian, 14th November 2019

“How can any MP be able to agree to a measure that endangers a whole community that they are not a member of?”

MPs have voted for a public referendum on the euthanasia bill, asking the vague question, “do you support this bill?”

“It’s to be hoped that the population at large can do a sound job, but that depends on the quality and range of information they get. MPs had a huge range of sound, factual information. But judging from their voting record, many clearly disregarded heaps of it.”

“Yes, there are many individual stories both for and against this bill. All deserve respect because telling them takes effort. But there’s more to good law than basing it on individual stories. It’s about the collective impact on our community. It should be good, safe law for all. That’s what MPs are there to do but didn’t.”

“The opposition we express is consistently based on concerns that society is full of negative, biased and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, so that people think disabled lives are less worthy. Given this attitude as a basis, the state provides really limited support for us to live well. So it’s disturbing when laws are put up that mean the state will provide the means to die, not live. But that’s where we are now. We aren’t dead yet and we don’t want state-sanctioned death support.”

“A friendly QC commented on my vulnerability to the law thus: “You’re toast.” Me and how many other disabled people?”

Read the full article here.

Homepage, News

Expert letter highlights risk of assisted dying increasing suicides​

Mental Health experts and researchers have written an open letter to MPs highlighting the risk of assisted dying increasing suicides. 

In the press release, spokesperson Dion Howard “says he has first-hand experience of his young clients using the same justifications for their suicidal inclinations as euthanasia advocates.”

“We feel a professional responsibility to present overseas statistical evidence regarding the relationship between assisted dying and suicide rates, the evidence is not conclusive because no-one has yet done the research and it is complex, but there is suggestive evidence which indicates that, over time, as the rates of assisted dying increase, there is a corresponding increase in suicide rates.”

“It’s a critical issue here in New Zealand because we have some of the highest suicide rates in the world, particularly for Māori, and they are still rising.”

The group want MPs to wait until more research is done before considering a law change.

“It is too risky to legislate for euthanasia or assisted suicide in New Zealand until evidence can show there’s no causal effect on New Zealand’s already high suicide levels.”

Read the letter here, and the press release here.