Myth 1: It’s inevitable.
No it’s not.
Advocates of euthanasia and assisted suicide like to tell you about their ‘successes’ around the world. But they don’t talk a lot about all the places where it has been considered and rejected.
Places like England & Wales, where it was defeated 330 to 118 on 11 September 2015.
Or Scotland, where it was defeated 82 to 36 on 27 May 2015.
Or that in Connecticut, an assisted suicide bill has failed to get through the Judiciary Committee three times in the last three years.
Or that Maine’s legislature rejected assisted suicide bills in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2015, and a referendum in 2000 rejected the idea.
Since 1994 there have been 175 separate proposals in the United States. Only three have succeeded (Oregon, Vermont, California). http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/failed-attempts-usa/ Since January 1994, there have been more than 175 legislative proposals in more than 35 states.
Myth 2: It’s happening already in New Zealand.
No it’s not.
Sometimes people see pain relief being given to a very ill person, who dies soon afterwards. They might think that the pain medication caused the death. Even some doctors and nurses might think that.
But they’re wrong.
Palliative care specialists use a technique called ‘titration’ to gradually increase the dosage of pain medication (such as morphine) so that pain and discomfort is managed with the smallest amount of side-effects, such as drowsiness. As a person nears the end of life, comfort is paramount and doses are often increased.
But the pain medication is not causing death.
Think about it: it’s why such drugs are not used for euthanasia and assisted suicide in places like Oregon and Belgium. They’re good at pain relief, but they’re just not very good at killing.
Myth 3: It’s about personal autonomy.
No it’s not.
People who want assisted suicide are asking for someone else to do something. More than that, they’re asking for the Government to approve it and taxpayers to pay for it. That’s the opposite of autonomy.
Put simply, suicide is not illegal in New Zealand. It’s a tragedy, for the person and their whanau, but attempting suicide is rightly treated as a mental health rather than a criminal issue.
However, aiding, abetting, assisting or inciting someone else to commit suicide are crimes under section 179 of the Crimes Act.
Click here for information about getting help for yourself or someone you know.
Myth 4: Just having the option is a comfort.
The idea that we need a “Stop” button to feel in control says something about our fears and doubts and worries, but it doesn’t say anything about the actual experience of high-quality palliative care.
Sometimes terminally-ill people, when they first meet with hospice or palliative care specialists, say that they’d just like it to be over. That’s understandable, because coming to terms with a terminal diagnosis is very difficult.
But they very rarely say it again. Palliative care doctors and nurses and volunteers engage with each new patient as an individual with their own fears and griefs and hopes and dreams. They help the person and their whänau understand what is likely to happen, and what they can do to get the most out of every single day.
Real comfort is about having real people who will walk the whole journey with you, all the way.
Myth 5: The overseas safeguards are effective.
Only if you think it’s a good idea that 45-year old twins should be euthanised because they were going blind, as in Belgium in 2013.
Only if you think that killing 97 people with dementia is “effective”, as they did in the Netherlands in 2013.
Only if you think that having a very small number of doctors write the large majority of lethal prescriptions sounds legit, as happens in Oregon. In 2009, for example, doctors from the assisted suicide lobby group Compassion & Choices (formerly known as the Hemlock Foundation) were responsible for 96% of all deaths under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.
Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide program has not been sufficiently transparent. Essentially, a coterie of insiders run the program, with a handful of doctors and others deciding what the public may know.
The Oregonian Editorial, 20 September 2008
The group promoting assisted suicide, so-called “Compassion and Choices (C&C)”, are like the fox in the proverbial chicken coop; in this case the fox is reporting its version to the farmer regarding what is happening in the coop.
K. Stevens & W. Toffler, The Oregonian, 24 September 2008