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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.

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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.

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This week, the role of doctors will fundamentally change

By Mark Yates, The Age, 17th June 2019

Mark Yates, geriatrician and associate professor at Deakin University, discusses how from June 19, “Victoria will become the only jurisdiction in Australia to legalise euthanasia by enacting the voluntary assisted dying legislation.”

The fact that this will be a rare occurrence is irrelevant to the majority of the medical profession. The issue is that the role of the doctor is fundamentally changed by this legislation, from treatment to protect life and relieve suffering to now include intentionally causing the death of a patient

For doctors there is plenty of room for challenge and risk of accusation of unprofessional behaviour or worse, whether a doctor declines or accepts to head down the voluntary assisted dying pathway. The blanket protection included for doctors once the person is dead does not protect them from accusations of errors in process. Predicting prognosis, assessing capacity and the self-definition of “expert in the field” are all open to interpretation and challengeable.

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Understanding freedom of conscience

by Brian Bird, Policy Options, 2 August 2017

Conscience is about living in alignment with our moral judgments, regardless of where they come from.

If moral freedom is what freedom of conscience protects, why we protect this freedom boils down to the fact that conscience touches on core moral commitments that sustain our identity and integrity — who I am and what I stand for.  Professionals faced with a crisis of conscience have two unattractive choices: resign or violate these commitments. If they choose the latter, they commit a harmful act of self-betrayal.  The concept of “moral injury” has been studied in the context of military personnel who return home after committing acts on the battlefield that violated their moral compass. Moral injury can also occur in less harrowing circumstances.  A physician in Ontario, Natalia Novosedlik,  revealed in an interview that she violated her conscience by making an effective referral — a decision that, after the fact, caused a “really internally divisive experience” for her.

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Legalising voluntary euthanasia a slippery slope: Geriatrician

by Anneke Smith, Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 May 2018

His biggest concern was that doctors and nurses would become too relaxed about the due processes in place and end the lives of those who either didn’t want euthanasia or weren’t eligible.

“A person might have a severe disability or illness which qualifies him or her for euthanasia but what do you do about the next person comes along who has not quite got the same symptoms and signs as earlier ones but is also demanding euthanasia?

“Over a period of time you get this thing called incrementalism, gradual development where what started as a small issue become a major issue in society.”

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Being exquisitely careful…

by Henry Cooke, Stuff, 22 May 2018

Tawa doctor and chair of the Health Professionals Alliance Catherine Hallagan submitted strongly against the bill.

“It is a bad bill that cannot be fixed,” Hallagan said.

She said doctors and other health professionals did not want the law. No safeguards built into the law would be sufficient to make sure patients were not being coerced into choosing death by family or others.

“Doctors cannot prove that coercion does not exist,” Hallagan.

Sinead Donnelly, a palliative care doctor, agreed with Hallagan, saying coercion would be impossible to avoid.

“We have no doubt that coercion occurs in daily life. The older, the mentally ill, the frail, are more susceptible to coercion, which can be extremely subtle,” Donnelly said.

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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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