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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.

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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.

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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.

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Euthanasia is symptom of society which does not care

By Breda O’Brien, The Irish Times, 21st September 2019

Read article here.

Is euthanasia simply a symptom of a society which doesn’t care?

Euthanasia is often advocated for under a banner of compassion and care. Overseas, we see this ‘care’ extending to cases of patients suffering from dementia, mental illness and even failed sex-change operations. In the Netherlands, a court recently decided that an advanced directive was sufficient consent, even if the woman suffering from Alzheimer’s was forcefully objecting, and had to be held down to receive the lethal injection.

This leaves us wondering, what makes the difference between those who request euthanasia, and those with similar symptoms expressing a strong desire to live? Instead of widening the grounds for euthanasia, why not replicate conditions that make life worth living despite suffering?

In statistics where women, elderly and the disabled are more heavily represented requesting euthanasia, Breda O’Brien writes, “we must question whether medical killing is motivated by love, or by cold functions of sexism, ableism and ageism.”

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Polling reveals country voters want palliative care fixed before euthanasia legalised

By Nathan Hondros, WA Today, September 3, 2019

Read the full article here.

No one would say good palliative care is a bad thing.

We all know death isn’t always easy. But whilst death isn’t always easy, there is no doubt that good palliative care makes a difference. Not only treating physical illness, but also providing mental and emotional support to patients and those surrounding them.

Polling in regional Western Australia reflects this, showing that only one person out of every four believe euthanasia should be legalised before palliative care is improved. Clearly, euthanasia should never be the first option. If better alternatives exist to treat illness, alleviate pain, and increase comfort, these should be taken. If medical care is under-performing or under-resourced in NZ, this should be fixed.

“No terminally ill person should ever find themselves in the position of being unable to experience quality palliative care but able to access assisted dying.”

Good palliative case isn’t always easily accessible in NZ. What will legalising euthanasia do about it?

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‘Voluntary assisted dying’ legislation could put lawyers at our deathbeds

By Mary McComish, WA Today, 5th August 2019

Under the Victorian law, the two assessing doctors (in WA it may involve a doctor and a nurse practitioner) have to assess and certify as to around a dozen eligibility criteria and other things.

For example was the person a resident in Victoria, did the person have decision-making capacity (not compromised by depression or other mental health condition), was the person acting voluntarily and without coercion, did the person suffer from a disease, illness or medical condition, was it expected to cause death within six months, was it causing intolerable suffering?

… Any of these assessments or acts could be open to question, especially things like prognosis, capacity and absence of coercion in the decision.

Answering the questions could well involve extensive bedside interviews in the presence of opposing lawyers.

Read the full article here.

The legal implications of legalising euthanasia are much more complex than people think, as seen in Victoria, Western Australia. Many different variables and assessments are open to question, coercion and error.

Surely it is better to support and resource our health professionals instead of turning to such a problematic and inherently dangerous piece of legislation?

Once this path is taken, there will be no going back.

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A myth: Euthanasia only for the terminally ill

By Felicity Caldwell, Brisbane Times, July 5 2019

Euthanasia advocates are constantly seeking to extend the circumstances where euthanasia should be available. Although advocated as only for those who are terminally ill, other jurisdictions where euthanasia has been legalised show the support for massive shifts in accessibility to include ‘mature minors’ (children under the age of 18), as well as people with psychiatric conditions.

Boundaries and exceptions around euthanasia are bound to expand, do we really want to take such a significant risk?

Read the full article, ‘Let teens and mentally ill decide on death: Queensland euthanasia advocate’ here.

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‘No-one is beyond help’: Why euthanasia should never be an option

By Danielle Gibbs, Stuff.co.nz, 10 July 2019

We live in a world where things are not perfect. How can we say, “it’s okay for you to die, your life is intolerable” when we don’t always have the means to provide the full support a person needs to live?
We need more support for vulnerable people, such as the disabled and mentally ill, that is based on the individual’s needs. There should not be a set standard…

We need to start thinking that prevention is always better than cure.
We need to tell society that it’s okay to need help. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you know your limits and capabilities. Asking for help is a strength.

Read the full article here.

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Euthanasia cannot solely be contained to the terminally ill

By Jen Mills, Metro News, 7 July 2019

A paralysed man in the United Kingdom will be going before the High Court in London seeking the right to be euthanised by the state.

A paralysed man in the United Kingdom will be going before the High Court in London seeking the right to be euthanised by the state.

As opponents note, the request contravenes articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights – even though his request uses the language of human rights.

The case shows the mistruth that euthanasia can possibly remain limited to people with a terminal illness. Over time many people including disabled people like Mr Lamb will bring lawsuits challenging the law until they can be provided with assisted suicide.

It doesn’t matter what ‘safeguards’ are employed. Once it becomes a ‘right’ to be killed, it will inevitably become ‘discrimination’ to deny that right to individuals like Mr Lamb.

Read the article here.

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Disabled man feeling pressured to “ask” for euthanasia

By Alex Schadenberg , Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, 21st June 2019

To all those who say that things are working well in Canada, and to all those who say that the law can create a ring-fence around assisted death that protects the disabled, we say, ‘Read this true story’:

“I was contacted by man with a disability, who was telling me how he was feeling pressured to ask for euthanasia. After explaining his concerns he sent me this email comment:
I am living in the advanced stages of quadriplegia, now 33 years along. I am feeling the suggestive influence from my nursing care, regarding euthanasia. They use indirect pressure by speaking about other patients who have chosen the path of assisted death, unsolicited from me. I am worried about Canadian laws, so anti-life, and I don’t ever want to end my life. I didn’t choose when I was born, and I won’t choose when I die. Another thing that concerns me is as these evil laws progress against the vulnerable like myself, when will this newfound right to die become the duty or obligation to die? I can see it coming…

People talk about “freedom, choice and autonomy” without realizing how these concepts only apply to euthanasia in theory. In reality, it is the doctor or nurse practitioner who decides if you should die by euthanasia and many doctors and nurse practitioners judge the equality of people with significant disabilities.”

Read the full article here.

We need to take heed of what is happening in countries like Canada – despite what proponents of assisted death such as Stephanie Green might be saying, all is not well in Canada. We still have a chance not to make the same mistake as Canada. Vote ‘no’ to the End of Life Choice Bill.