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Debating the End of Life Choice Bill and its implications in New Zealand

Click this link to watch the debate

SUPPORT: David Seymour and Gabe Rijpma

“We need to think about that in the context of those who do not have a voice. Who may not be here… People who are trapped in bodies that no longer function… This is about dignity…It’s about giving people the dignity and ability to make their own choice.” – Gabe Rijpma

OPPOSITION: Rt Hon Sir Bill English, Dr Kate Grundy

“A friend of mine in Canada who works in this field…was telling us that patients in hospitals, older patients, really sick patients, are now starting to refuse drugs for two completely contradictory reasons. One is, they are worried that if they take the drug, say significant pain killers, that they will be regarded as losing capacity and therefore not be able to choose euthanasia. The other reason is the opposite. They are worried the doctor might be giving a drug that’s going to kill them.” – Sir Bill English

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Palliative care experts say euthanasia goes against core belief that death and dying are ‘natural part of life’

by Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 May 2018

We don’t talk enough about dying and we need to change that. We think it would help if people knew a bit more about the actual process of dying and what to expect
We suspect a lot of the current debate is fueled by fear of the unknown, and a lack of information about what care is available and what actually happens when someone dies.

“In our experience a good safe death is peaceful, dignified and a natural process.

“People advocating for a law change talk about choice, compassion, and dignity, as if euthanasia were the only way to achieve these things. But these are the founding tenets of Hospice services: you can have choice, compassion, and dignity at the end of your life, and you don’t have to kill yourself for them, or have someone kill you to achieve this.”

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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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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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Record number of submissions on euthanasia bill forces committee to delay its report

by Isaac Davison, The New Zealand Herald, 21 May 2018

Public hearings begin today on the End of Life Choice Bill, and so far 35,000 submissions have been received.

The committee was initially given nine months to hear the submissions, an extension on the usual six months. It has now pushed the deadline back another three months, to March, to cope with the huge workload.

Select committees usually choose which submitters they want to hear from in person, but because of the significance of the legislation the Justice Committee has decided to hear from anyone who wants to make an oral submission.

So far, 3500 people have said they want to appear in person.

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Euthanasia Bill risks are too great – expert

by Emma Jolliff, Newshub, 27 April 2018

Anyone who claims assisted dying already happens in New Zealand is peddling fake news, a palliative care expert says.

A panel of specialists says the End of Life Bill going through Parliament is dangerous and the burden on doctors to assist a patient to die is too great.

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Calling a spade a soil relocation aid

by Jonathan Hatfield, The New Zealand Herald, 27 March 2018

Assisted dying is a vague term and could mean no more than the important service of rearranging the pillows for a dying person. 

The End of Life Choice Bill talks of assisted dying but with no indication of how this is to happen until the last major paragraph of the extensive explanatory notes. There, as part of a much longer sentence, the bill finally says,’ the medical practitioner must administer it,” and so, in six words it defines assisted dying as euthanasia in the present meaning of the word.

If we are to debate and reach conclusions about this important subject, we must have a clear idea about what we are debating. Clarity is therefore important.

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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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Kylee Black: End of Life Choice Bill alarmingly ambiguous for disabled people

by Natalie Akoorie, The New Zealand Herald, 7 March 2018

She pointed out that the bill in its current form does not address whether a doctor is allowed to raise euthanasia with a patient. And that a doctor is not permitted to dissuade a patient from euthanasia if they are eligible.

“What happens if I, as a young person with an irremediable condition, wheel into a doctors and say, ‘I’m suicidal, my life has suffering. I want euthanasia’, and a person without a health condition goes in and asks for the same thing?

“For people not eligible for euthanasia, support to live is given. Does that mean healthy people get access to suicide support, but those with an incurable disability do not?”

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David Seymour needs to listen to NZ about euthanasia

by Dr Peter Thirkell, Newshub, 9 March 2017

Mr Seymour says that it is the quality of argument that matters, implying that the submissions in opposition are poorly argued, but not the pro-euthanasia ones. His presumption is staggering. Submissions to the Health Select Committee in 2016 were 80% opposed to euthanasia. They included people from all walks of life and levels of education.

Mr Seymour calls this a progressive bill, but progressive to what end? Progress is, in one sense, just a direction. And the direction of this bill emerges out of, and plays to, people’s fears: fear of a bad death; fear of becoming a burden; fear of losing physical and mental capabilities and social relationships.

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