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Opinion polarised on End of Life Choice Bill

by Nicki Harper, Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 May 2018

“What everybody is trying to do deal with, like me, is that while it’s true there are some people who have difficult deaths is legislation the right mechanism to help those people?” said Yule.

In an effort to gather as much information as he could, he said he had talked to many people on both sides of the debate, but that his final decision once the bill was in its final form would not be made on the issue of freedom of choice.

“It will be made on whether there is undue suffering potentially being endured and whether that is acceptable or not.

“It’s a moral dilemma around the very big call to take someone’s life early versus the suffering they may be under – I think that will be the crunch of it when it comes to the select committee.”

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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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Legalising ‘assisted dying’ would have been putting the cart before the horse

by Living and Dying Well, 18 May 2018

The States of Guernsey, the Bailiwick’s Legislature, has rejected a Requete – a formal proposal – to commission a working party to develop a legal framework to enable doctors to supply or administer lethal drugs to seriously-ill people. 

No, the issue won’t go away and those who govern us are going to have to find answers to the problems that a changing society is bringing.  But they need to be well-considered answers based on careful study of serious evidence and they need to be answers for all, not just for some. 

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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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Old age alone shouldn’t be considered a justification for physician-assisted death

by Tom Koch, The Globe and Mail, 09 April 2018

“Good treatment addresses our fears, it does not embrace them. It helps people through and past crisis points. That won’t happen when age is considered a terminal diagnosis, however, when physician-assisted death is the go-to answer.”

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Tom Koch is a Toronto-based consultant in gerontology and chronic care. He has written extensively about aging, disability, elder care and medical ethics.

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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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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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Terry Sarten: Quality end-of-life care should be nation’s priority

by Terry Sarten, The New Zealand Herald, 21 January 2018

Voicing the notion of “not being a burden” is often heard here in New Zealand from those who have serious life-threatening illnesses. We can shift that burden by acknowledging the value of quality end-of-life care and pressuring government to fund it effectively.

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People near the end of life need the same protection as children

by Tony Walter, The Conversation, 7 September 2017

Tony Walter is a Professor of Death Studies at the University of Bath.

But in many societies, the approach to end of life care requires us to continue as active and responsible citizens for as long as our mental capacities allow – to make choices about what kind of care we want, and where. In anticipation of losing capacity, people are urged to act responsibly and make preferences known in advance while they are still able.

This approach to policy has not of course prevented a series of elder care scandals in hospitals and care homes in Britain. That is because these scandals were not about lack of choice, but about neglect and abandonment: patients not turned over in bed, food being left out of reach, residents not helped to the bathroom.

As well as badly structured and poorly funded health and social care systems, an underlying cause of these scandals may be traced to a blind spot in Western democracies. The single-minded valuing of individual autonomy fails those whose deteriorating body or mind compromises this very autonomy.

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