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Disability Commissioner incredibly concerned about the euthanasia bill in New Zealand

Euthanasia is legal in Canada and a visiting expert says its very patient-driven, but our Disability Commissioner is concerned the Bill doesn’t protect the most vulnerable. Watch the debate from TV1, Breakfast, here:

The euthanasia debate is heating up as the End Of Life Choice Bill has its second reading in Parliament.

The euthanasia debate is heating up as the End Of Life Choice Bill has its second reading in Parliament. Euthanasia is legal in Canada and a visiting expert says its very patient-driven, but our Disability Commissioner is concerned the Bill doesn't protect the most vulnerable.

Posted by Breakfast on Sunday, 23 June 2019
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This week, the role of doctors will fundamentally change

By Mark Yates, The Age, 17th June 2019

Mark Yates, geriatrician and associate professor at Deakin University, discusses how from June 19, “Victoria will become the only jurisdiction in Australia to legalise euthanasia by enacting the voluntary assisted dying legislation.”

The fact that this will be a rare occurrence is irrelevant to the majority of the medical profession. The issue is that the role of the doctor is fundamentally changed by this legislation, from treatment to protect life and relieve suffering to now include intentionally causing the death of a patient

For doctors there is plenty of room for challenge and risk of accusation of unprofessional behaviour or worse, whether a doctor declines or accepts to head down the voluntary assisted dying pathway. The blanket protection included for doctors once the person is dead does not protect them from accusations of errors in process. Predicting prognosis, assessing capacity and the self-definition of “expert in the field” are all open to interpretation and challengeable.

Read the full article here.
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We can’t let voluntary assisted dying negate our commitment to the ill

By Natasha Michael, The Age, 22 May 2019

Palliative care doctor Natasha Michael discusses how euthanasia will impact palliative care from her personal experience with death, patients and palliative care.

The introduction of the voluntary assisted dying legislation in Victoria on June 19 will remind us of the occasional failure of medicine. Healthcare was designed with disease in mind, not people. The legislation introduces three major threats to healthcare: validating suicide as an acceptable choice; accepting substandard medical care by supporting the lack of rigour in defining eligibility; and finally, introducing into the healthcare curriculum the intentional ending of life as acceptable medical treatment. Hereby, a new generation of healthcare professionals abdicate their commitment to the sick.

For the patient, the convolutions of modern medicine, the uncertainty of therapeutics, the conundrum of multiple doctors across multiple sites bring an uncertain horizon and instil existential anguish. Their journey of illness is ultimately alienating and lonely. For many, it is the desperation for the restoration of dignity and the return of normality that drives the desire for death: “I want to die, let me die.” Not: “Kill me.”

Read full article here.
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Many in the dark on end of life

Care Not Killing, 14th May 2019

Public ignorance about dying increases fears about the pain and indignity associated with the event, senior medical academics say today. Large numbers of people get information from fictional events while the most common source of knowledge about dying is from family and friends, according to a survey conducted for the Academy of Medical Sciences. Some 20% say they have gained their knowledge from documentaries while just 22% have gained it from medical professionals.

When people are unfamiliar with the reality of the incredible care and support of which we are capable, and when campaigners can point to gaps in provision in order to sow the seeds of doubt and fear, acceptance of assisted suicide and euthanasia is less surprising.

Read the full article here.

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Palliative care experts say euthanasia not the answer

By Nick Butterly, The West Australian, 25 May 2019

Douglas Bridge — regarded as the leading palliative care expert in WA — said the introduction of laws allowing euthanasia would pose a huge ethical problem for medical professionals.

“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not medical treatments and most emphatically not part of palliative care.”

“We reaffirm our commitment to our patients: we will continue to care for you to the best of our ability, guided by your choices, but we will not kill you,” Dr Bridge said.

Read the article here.
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Why I changed my mind on euthanasia

By Chris Ford, Newsroom, May 27 2019

Chris Ford explains why he’s now firmly in the ‘no’ camp on the voluntary euthanasia legislation.

The way in which society views disabled people is still largely negative and any introduction of euthanasia laws might further diminish our standing in the eyes of wider New Zealand society.

Wouldn’t the legislation be an effective weapon in a time of economic austerity when spending on social services would be even tighter than it is now? One could imagine that deeper future cuts to health and disability services, for example, would see many more disabled people placed under even greater pressure by both government and wider society to feel worthless and a burden.

Read the full article here.

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Claire Freeman’s incredible story

In a powerful interview on TVNZ Sunday, Claire Freeman describes the car accident that left her paralysed as a teenager and how, after multiple suicide attempts, she received medical advice to pursue assisted suicide overseas.

Had assisted suicide been available in NZ, Claire says it’s likely she would have taken her life. Claire has now turned her life around and she’s determined to save the lives of other vulnerable people.

Watch the interview here.

You can learn more about Claire and her eligibility under the End of Life Choice Bill at www.defendnz.co.nz/claire

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Twelve Myths About Physician Assisted Suicide

By Ronald W. Pies, MD and Annette Hanson, MD, MD Magazine, July 7 2018,

The case for PAS legislation rests on a number of misconceptions, as regards the adequacy, safety, and application of existing PAS statutes. The best available evidence suggests that current practices under PAS statutes are not adequately monitored and do not adequately protect vulnerable populations, such as patients with clinical depression.

Read the article here.

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Demystifying death – Kiwi music inspiration Malcolm Black on leaving early, without fear

By Grant Smithies, Stuff.co.nz, 19 May 2019

“I’m not afraid of dying, really, in the slightest,” he told me. “I’ve had a good life and death comes to us all – eventually.”

“A lot of people think, OK- I’ve got this long to live, so I’m going to do this, that and the other thing. But what I’ve done instead is just made everything really small. Death is very clarifying. Your priorities quickly become really obvious. And the priorities I found were all things that were within 500 metres of me. Home and family and books and music and friends.”

Read the article here.

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Doctors in Canada have had their right to conscientious objection against euthanasia removed.

Mr Seymour’s euthanasia bill explanatory note says “In countries where assisted dying is permitted, medical practitioners and organisations have adapted well”. However, Doctors in Canada just lost their appeal in a ruling stripping them of their right to conscientious objection. Chief Justice Strathy quoted testimony that doctors who question patient choice cause ‘delay, trauma, shame and self doubt’.

Doctors are ‘not’ adapting well in Canada – in fact, there could soon be a shortage of people willing to be doctors, as the main role of doctors as patients’ advisors is being heavily challenged.

Read the ruling here.