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Legalising ‘assisted dying’ would have been putting the cart before the horse

by Living and Dying Well, 18 May 2018

The States of Guernsey, the Bailiwick’s Legislature, has rejected a Requete – a formal proposal – to commission a working party to develop a legal framework to enable doctors to supply or administer lethal drugs to seriously-ill people. 

No, the issue won’t go away and those who govern us are going to have to find answers to the problems that a changing society is bringing.  But they need to be well-considered answers based on careful study of serious evidence and they need to be answers for all, not just for some. 

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What does euthanasia mean for those who want to live?

by James Eglinton, The Sunday Herald, 17 May 2018

A society that legalises it automatically creates a new pair of choices for all of its citizens. These choices – to stop living, or to carry on living – are both novelties occasioned by the legalisation of euthanasia. If the terminally ill are granted the right to die, every terminally ill person who declines this new possibility is necessarily making the counter-choice to carry on living. The same is true regardless of which group is given the right to choose death: the old, the ill, the depressed, the poor, and so on.

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I am a disabled person and I don’t back the right to die for one very important reason

by James Moore, Independent, 5 October 2017

I am aware that even the late Professor Stephen Hawking shifted his position on assisted suicide, arguing in a BBC interview that “to keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity” and stating that he would consider assisted suicide were he in “great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me”. 

But that comment about being a burden troubles me. It’s very possible that an otherwise more or less happy disabled person could suddenly find themselves in a difficult situation with family or carers, and could, as a result, start to become so convinced that they were a “burden” that they might feel the same way when with the proper support they wouldn’t dream of it. 

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Euthanasia Bill risks are too great – expert

by Emma Jolliff, Newshub, 27 April 2018

Anyone who claims assisted dying already happens in New Zealand is peddling fake news, a palliative care expert says.

A panel of specialists says the End of Life Bill going through Parliament is dangerous and the burden on doctors to assist a patient to die is too great.

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Calling a spade a soil relocation aid

by Jonathan Hatfield, The New Zealand Herald, 27 March 2018

Assisted dying is a vague term and could mean no more than the important service of rearranging the pillows for a dying person. 

The End of Life Choice Bill talks of assisted dying but with no indication of how this is to happen until the last major paragraph of the extensive explanatory notes. There, as part of a much longer sentence, the bill finally says,’ the medical practitioner must administer it,” and so, in six words it defines assisted dying as euthanasia in the present meaning of the word.

If we are to debate and reach conclusions about this important subject, we must have a clear idea about what we are debating. Clarity is therefore important.

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Terry Sarten: Quality end-of-life care should be nation’s priority

by Terry Sarten, The New Zealand Herald, 21 January 2018

Voicing the notion of “not being a burden” is often heard here in New Zealand from those who have serious life-threatening illnesses. We can shift that burden by acknowledging the value of quality end-of-life care and pressuring government to fund it effectively.

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‘Death with dignity’ devalues disability

by Mike Volkman, Times Union, 27 November 2017

What does it mean to die with dignity? Or the opposite, what is death without dignity or with indignity? There is no legal definition. It is a phrase people like to use with the hope that it is sufficient and accepted. Remember the bit George Carlin did in 1992 about euphemisms? They hide the truth.

Legislative bodies should come up with legal definitions for the term. They should specify what constitutes dignified ways of dying. When they come to define what are undignified ways of dying, the challenge is how to do it without describing circumstances that go with disability. Because if they can’t get around that, then it makes one thing perfectly clear.

That one thing is that it is in the interests of the state to protect all lives except those of people with disabilities. If the presence of a disability, whether it is from birth or from later acquisition, makes it justifiable to place a value judgment on a person for a life-or-death decision, that makes an entire class of people subject to a double standard. That is state-sponsored bigotry allowing up to one sixth of the population to be discarded and unprotected.

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I won’t intentionally help my patients to end their lives

by Marion Harris, The Age, 9 October 2017

The Australian Medical Association as well as most other international medical bodies do not support assisted dying laws. The American College of Physicians has this month published its position statement reaffirming its strong opposition to this practice on many levels. Even doctors who do support this are reluctant to provide scripts or perform euthanasia themselves.

These are the reasons why I – along with 100 other Victorian cancer specialists – have put my name to an appeal to Victorian MPs not to pass the legislation.

Regardless of any change in the law, I won’t intentionally help my patients to end their lives, nor do I personally know of any doctor who will. It is not the solution to the complex problems people face at the end of life, and it creates more problems and injustices than it solves.

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In New Zealand, over 300 medical doctors has signed an open letter to Parliament stating that doctors want no part in assisted suicide. Read it here: http://doctorssayno.nz.

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Doctors appeal to Vic MPs to vote down assisted dying bill

by Jane Lee, PM (ABC Radio), 16 October 2017

A number of doctors with patients nearing the end of their lives insist that an assisted dying scheme is dangerous and unnecessary, a day before the Victorian Parliament is set to debate a bill that could make it legal.

The geriatric medicine and palliative care specialists say they are concerned that the safeguards in the bill are not enough to prevent “wrongful” deaths, or to protect patients from being coerced into applying for lethal medication.

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Assisted dying debate: Clock’s ticking, but pinpointing when it’ll stop is tricky

by Farrah Tomazin, The Age, 9 October 2017

Hall had voted in favour of the laws; now she was preparing to use them. That is, until her radiation doctor, a staunch opponent of assisted dying, convinced her otherwise.

“I told her this was potentially curable and strongly encouraged her to get treated.” Dr Kenneth Stevens told The Age from his home in Oregon this month.

“The fact that she was refusing treatment made her terminal, but it’s a bit like a person who’s diabetic and on insulin – if they stop taking the insulin, then they may not live very long.

“Eventually she did get treatment, and the cancer went away. She’s now living and active – and it’s been 17 years.”

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