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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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Disabled lives are worth living – euthanasia implies otherwise

by Claire Freeman, Stuff, 15 December 2017

While it is commendable that we are discussing euthanasia, we need to be extremely careful not to make assumptions about the quality of life of others like myself – people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions.

When the majority of health professionals believe that lives like mine are not worth living, we have a problem.

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Dr Sinead Donnelly: Palliative medicine uses morphine with care

by Sinead Donnelly, The New Zealand Herald, 15 December 2017

Politicians do great harm to the perception of medical practice, and instil unnecessary fear and anxiety in the minds of the public, by promulgating, on national television, incorrect, misleading and unsubstantiated statements.

“By promoting the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide, David Seymour’s bill is seeking to change the nature of our medical profession from ‘care always’ to ‘why be careful!'”

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Care Alliance Welcomes Upcoming Debate on EOLC Bill

Care Alliance Press Release, 13 December 2017

The Care Alliance welcomes the upcoming debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand following the decision by MPs to move David Seymour’s End of Life Choice bill through to Select Committee.

“We look forward to a full and robust consultation,” says Care Alliance spokesperson Dr Peter Thirkell. “We will be putting our efforts into the Select Committee process and showing the bill up for all of its flaws.”

“We urge all groups that will be placed at risk by this bill to speak out and make their views known to the Select Committee.”

 

For all media enquiries please contact: 

Dr Peter Thirkell

Care Alliance Secretary

secretary@carealliance.org.nz

027 563-5086

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Watching my uncle die – and his mood swings – confirmed my opposition to euthanasia

by Mike Yardley, Stuff, 5 December 2017

It’s the unintended consequences of allowing euthanasia that particularly perturb me, whereby shifting societal values would make seniors and the disabled increasingly feel like a financial and emotional burden, and obliged to seek termination.

Such coercion might be undetectable, but how can you possibly safeguard against it? David Seymour is welcome to try and convince me.

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Palliative care experts warn NSW assisted dying bill ‘unsafe’

by Sean Nicholls, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 2017

Dr Frank Brennan said “too often the debate is characterised as a simple choice between suffering and choosing physician assisted suicide or euthanasia”.

“A day of anguish may be followed by a day of calm,” he said.

“To proceed with physician assisted suicide or euthanasia in a period of despair ignores this ebb and flow”.

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A message to Victorians on euthanasia

by Liz Carr, The Spectator, 17 August 2017

Liz Carr is a UK actor, comedian and disability rights activist perhaps best known as forensic examiner Clarissa Mullery in the BBC’s Silent Witness.

Disability is fundamental in any discussion about assisted suicide: those high profile campaigns calling for a change to the law are almost always fronted by those who would be described as disabled. As a wheelchair user who needs 24-hour assistance with the most personal of tasks, the people we see in the media calling for help to end their lives, often look like me. No, they often look healthier than I do. But when we have so few representations of disabled people on TV or in the media then the assumption becomes that people like me must find life unbearable and that of course, we’d want to end our lives.

There is such a fine line between terminal illness and disability both medically and in public perception, that they become one and the same. Consequently, assisted suicide is seen as an understandable and rational response to both. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had complete strangers tell me that if they were like me then they couldn’t go on.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide? As long as some lives are deemed as not worth living and are viewed as less valuable than others, there is the unwitting potential that state sanctioned assisted suicide would further enshrine this inequality in law. When most people choose to end their life, we offer prevention but when ill, dying, older and disabled people talk about doing the same, they are often met with understanding and encouragement.

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Voluntary assisted dying bill defeated in NSW upper house

by Sean Nicholls, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 2017

The debate was opened by Labor health spokesman, Walt Secord, who acknowledged the “strong, emotional, compassionate desire behind [the bill]”.

But he added: “I have not yet seen it possible to develop adequate legislative safeguards to protect people from the misuse of these laws.”

“I have not yet seen a legislative model in this area that cannot be exploited or manipulated. And I cannot support any gaps for exploitation when the consequences are so final”.

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Only one certainty if we make assisted suicide legal

by Dominic Perrottet, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 2017

It’s got me wondering: if NSW or Victoria did cross that threshold, would news organisations continue to include the same potentially life-saving referral to suicide-prevention services in their reports? Or will that footnote need to be updated, with one message for those whose deaths the publishers wish to avert, and another for the people whose deaths they are happy to facilitate?

And what about the suicide prevention hotlines themselves? Will they screen out people whose wish to die sounds rational, and who may qualify under the relevant legislation, distinguishing them from the thousands of callers desperately seeking help to avoid the tragedy of suicide? Will those hotlines be asked to refer people who can legally end their own lives to places where they can get more information on how to go about it? Will the hotlines acquiesce in such requests?

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The hidden implications of assisted suicide and euthanasia

by Peter Hudson, The Age, 7 October 2017

The fact is, assisted suicide may simply add to the anxieties and pressures felt by families. While the specific role of family carers in the process of assisted suicide is relatively underexplored, some instances of post-traumatic distress disorder and depression in families who witness assisted suicide have been reported overseas. We shouldn’t think that Victoria’s assisted suicide model is immune from similar unintended consequences. Under the proposed Victorian legislation, before a person is prescribed their lethal dose of medication they must appoint a contact person – who will invariably be a family member or close friend – who is responsible for securing the lethal medication, checking whether or not it has been administered, and returning any unused substances to the pharmacist after the person has died. One might expect the same trusted family member – a partner, a son or daughter – to inevitably bear the responsibility of removing the lethal substances from the locked box and mixing them with a liquid to be consumed by the patient.

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