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Commentary: Shortening life to end suffering is troubling

by Thomas J. Madejski, Times Union, 28 April 2018

Compelling arguments have not been made for medicine to change its footing and to incorporate the active shortening of life into the norms of medical practice. Although relief of suffering has always been a fundamental duty in medical practice, relief of suffering through shortening of life has not.

They have great apprehension that such a measure would negatively impact health care among racial and ethnic minorities and the physically disabled.

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Euthanasia bill ‘dangerous’ – Palliative care workers

by Emma Hatton, Radio New Zealand, 27 April 2018

The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada are some of the countries where euthanasia has been legalised.

But, Professor MacLeod said there was no place yet, where the law provided absolute safety to those who were vulnerable.

“There is no jurisdiction anywhere across the world that has produced a law that is safe – there have been cracks in all of them.”

Te Omanga Hospice medical director, Ian Gwynne-Robson, said one issue for the sector was ensuring it had enough experienced doctors.

He said if euthanasia was an option, inexperienced doctors may offer it as the best option, when this might not be the case.

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How do the Dutch respond to euthanasia requests from the intellectually disabled?

by Michael Cook, Bioedge, 14 April 2018

Despite the fact that assessing the capacity of intellectually disabled people is very difficult and a task for specialists, the authors found that only in one of the nine cases was a specialist consulted.

“The Dutch cases raise the possibility that the bar for assessment of intractable suffering is set lower for people with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder than for the general population, by considering their long term disability as a medical rather than a social condition. We found no evidence of safeguards against the influence of the physicians’ own subjective value judgements when considering EAS decision, nor of processes designed to guard against transference of the physicians’ own values and prejudices.”

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Positive and Negative Medical Developments

by Professor Michael Kennedy, Australian Medical Association, 14 March 2018

Frequently, patients suffering from neuromuscular degenerative diseases appear in the media supporting euthanasia. The eminent neurologists John Walton and Roger Bannister were among the strongest public and at committee level opponents of euthanasia legislation. There are many drugs now in the clinical trial stage that may considerably improve the outlook of these patients. When penicillin was first used in a patient with terminal sepsis it was described by the administering doctors as a ‘miracle’.

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Landmark Canadian court case proves euthanasia safeguards aren’t there

20 March 2018

“The current landmark court case in Canada again reinforces the fact that laws legalising euthanasia cannot provide safeguards that work,” says Dr Peter Thirkell, Care Alliance Secretary.

Roger Foley has cerebellar ataxia, a terminal and incurable severe brain disorder that limits movement and leaves him unable to perform basic tasks independently. He wants to be able to live at home, but has instead been offered only two options: a forced discharge from hospital or medically assisted death. Because of this, Mr Foley is suing the hospital, several health agencies, and the attorneys general of Ontario and Canada.

“The Canadians haven’t had their law for very long and yet already we can see that the idea of choice is a myth – real choices are not available for patients to be assisted to live,” says Dr Thirkell. “This is happening in the same country that David Seymour calls “advanced” with a law that he points to as an example to be followed.”

“Mr Foley’s case highlights the substantial dangers that people with disability and serious chronic and life-limiting medical conditions will face if Mr Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill is passed.”

Under the End of Life Choice Bill, it is not necessary for a patient to have their basic needs met before seeking euthanasia, and there is no obligation to ensure real alternatives are explored; the patient must simply be “aware” of them.

“The Bill targets people who may have complex health needs, and who rely on our health system for care. We should be providing the highest standard of care and support to live, which meets those needs.”

“True patient-centred care enables the best living possible, personalised to the patient where appropriate medical expertise and care is properly provided. That’s what palliative and hospice care does and that’s why palliative and hospice care should be invested in.”

“Mr Foley wants to live and the irony is that it is the availability of legal euthanasia and assisted suicide that marks for him the end of any choice for life.”

The Care Alliance stands in solidarity with Mr Foley in his action to be assisted to live to, as he says, “build my circle of care that works with me”.

END

Published at Scoop NZ.

For all media enquires please contact Dr Peter Thirkell, Care Alliance Secretary

secretary@carealliance.org.nz

027 563-5086

 

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Being exquisitely careful with the lives of others: the case against euthanasia and assisted suicide

February 2018

Listen to the recent presentation Dr Sinéad Donnelly gave to Hospice New Zealand on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Click here for the PDF slides to the presentation.

 

About Dr Donnelly

Dr Sinéad Donnelly is an Internal Medicine Specialist in Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand.

Dr Donnelly qualified in medicine in 1987 and completed her undergraduate medical degree with honours at National University Ireland Galway followed by Internal Medicine training in Ireland and Scotland with a clinical research fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA.

Dr Donnelly has extensive international clinical experience in general medicine. She is a Senior lecturer at Otago University Wellington, Module Convenor for Qualitative research part of Diplomas Clinical Research, Victoria University with extensive research publications on general medicine related topics. Sinéad is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Royal College of Physicians Ireland.

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What happens when a patient says, ‘Doc, help me die’

by E. Wes Ely, CNN, 20 March 2018

I pulled a chair next to his bed so we could talk at eye level. His face was blank. “I want euthanasia. I’m going to die soon, so what’s the point of living longer? I’m just wasted space.”

I felt nauseated. The illegality of euthanasia was not what ran through my mind. Instead I thought about how Paul had lost his sense of personhood. I thought about how I had chosen to become a doctor in the first place.

The problem with assisted suicide and euthanasia for Paul — and for others — is that it presented him with an illusion of ‘cure,’ when in reality it would have left him devoid of the healing he received.

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In Reply to Supporters of the End of Life Choice Bill

by Dr Rosalie Evans, New Zealand Doctor, 27 February 2018

I believe that the care of those who are suffering or who are terminally ill is a very important issue for New Zealanders in general, and for doctors in particular, to consider. We, as health professionals, need to think about how euthanasia and assisted suicide, if legalised, would affect both our most vulnerable patients and ourselves. 

Human dignity is innate to every person. It is not defined by a person’s abilities or by an individual’s contribution to society. I refute totally the premise that a person’s dignity is diminished according to that person’s degree of dependency on others for her or his care. 

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Ron Jones: Leave doctors out of ‘assisted dying’ discussion

by Ron Jones, The New Zealand Herald, 23 March 2016

Since there are currently no medical indications for ending a person’s life, the use of the word “medical” by legislators dishonestly transfers undue responsibility for the act of euthanasia to the medical profession.

Termination of life is an anathema to most doctors and I doubt if many will wish to participate.

Palliative care physicians, arguably the most trusted and empathetic members of our profession, will not have a bar of it. This may lead to a small coterie of doctors who wish to be involved – “Doctor Deaths” – a phrase that will not be welcomed by the profession or most of the public.

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Physician-assisted suicide won’t atone for medicine’s ‘original sin’

by Dr Ira Byock, StatNews, 31 January 2018

From its inception, the profession of medicine has been charged with guiding society in matters related to health and wellbeing. Organized medicine should now be leading the charge for substantial improvements in caring for incurably ill patients. Instead, in several states the profession has begun to embrace physician-hastened death.

In today’s high-tech medicine, doctors treat disease. Patients’ well-being gets short shrift. When disease can no longer be kept at bay, modern medicine tends to give up altogether.

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