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Assisted dying would ‘erode the trust’ between doctor and patient

By Michael Hayward, Stuff.co.nz, 13th November 2019

Phil Bagshaw, a Christchurch surgeon, is concerned that if the End of Life Choice Bill becomes law, it will erode the trust between doctors and their patients. He said he could not support any version of the bill.

“If terminally-ill people were deteriorating, there were ways to keep them comfortable and without distress, and to ease their death… it could be done by experts but it was “somewhat costly”, although the Government could afford it. Palliative services should be available to anyone who needed them, he said. 

He was concerned about a condition of the bill that said only those with “a terminal illness that is likely to end the person’s life within six months” would be able to ask for access to assisted dying, as it was “almost an impossibility to say with any degree of certainty” how long someone who was terminally ill had to live.

Bagshaw also raised concerns about the bill going to public referendum. He said the issue was complicated and thought “pressure groups” on both sides would promote it as more simple than it was.

“They [the public] will hear both sides from two groups, both of whom have strong views and will put those views across in a powerful way, and I think it will be very difficult for most people to discern what is the common sense way out of what is in fact a difficult situation.”

Read the full article here.

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1000 Kiwi doctors sign letter against euthanasia

By Simon Collins, NZ Herald / Newstalk ZB, 23rd June 2019

One thousand doctors have signed a letter saying they “want no part in assisted suicide”. They have urged politicians and policy-makers to let them focus on saving lives and care for the dying, rather than taking lives, which they deemed unethical – whether legal or not.

“We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to die would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship which is based on trust and respect,” the letter reads.
“We are especially concerned with protecting vulnerable people who can feel they have become a burden to others, and we are committed to supporting those who find their own life situations a heavy burden.”
Finishing, they said: “Doctors are not necessary in the regulation or practice of assisted suicide. They are included only to provide a cloak of medical legitimacy.

Read the full article here.

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The euthanasia debate: Death is not a black-and-white issue

By Dr Amanda Landers, Stuff.co.nz, 24th June 2019

In reading social media pages, I have realised there are many misconceptions that have taken root in our community which need weeding out. One of these misconceptions is that euthanasia and withdrawing medical intervention is one and the same.

The answer to bad deaths is not euthanasia. The answer is a better understanding of basic medical ethics, of palliative medicine, of what happens to the body when it is dying, and how to care for  someone at the end of life.

Read the full article here.

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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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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.