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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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Why I oppose the End of Life Choice Bill, in plain English

By Bill English, Stuff.co.nz, 13th November 2019

Former Prime Minister Sir Bill English has opposed the End of Life Choice Bill since its first reading.

“This bill, if it passes, will make New Zealand a less safe place for the old, the vulnerable, the depressed and the disabled”.

He gives, “Five reasons why this bill will not deliver compassion. Five reasons to vote No.”

Read the full article here.

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Major gaps persist in knowledge of the practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia

By Michael Cooke, BioEdge, 10th November 2019

More research must be undertaken about the decision making process and consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and how this legislation “affects societal discourses regarding palliative care, suffering, old age and dying.”

Currently, research into euthanasia is difficult as some jurisdictions have no legally required reporting procedures, with some forbidding the mention of euthanasia as the cause of death on the death certificate. Euthanasia legislation “suffers from an under- reporting bias. Studies have estimated that, even several years after legalisation, from 1/5 (the Netherlands) to 1/3 (Belgium) [of] cases is [sic] not reported.”

“More in-depth knowledge overall is needed into the MAiD [Medical Aid in Dying] decision- making process, especially concerning vulnerable population groups such as the oldest old and people suffering from severe mental illness … most research on MAiD practice has been limited to interviewing or surveying physicians. More research exploring the narratives from patients and patients’ relatives is particularly needed to gain a more complete picture.”

There is an “important gap in our understanding of the process and consequences of the practice”. The influence of legalising euthanasia on palliative care, and patients feel pressure, fearing being a burden to relatives and society, must be examined.

Read the full article here.

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Teen says she maybe only knew her dad because euthanasia wasn’t legal

By Tom Hunt, Stuff,co.nz, 13th November 2019

“Glenn Major was a soccer dad and it’s down to him his 17-year-old daughter now represents Waikato and Bay of Plenty in the beautiful game. He doesn’t know this. He died nine years ago.”

“His daughter Rachel believes that if euthanasia had been legal when she was aged one there was a chance she would have never got to know her dad for the nine years they did have.”

“Rachel on Tuesday had a long list delivered to MPs, essentially asking if they realised how few safeguards there were in the  proposed final version of the End of Life Choice Bill. “

Read more here.

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New Zealand’s euthanasia bill is a step into the unknown for disabled people

By Wendi Wicks, The Guardian, 14th November 2019

“How can any MP be able to agree to a measure that endangers a whole community that they are not a member of?”

MPs have voted for a public referendum on the euthanasia bill, asking the vague question, “do you support this bill?”

“It’s to be hoped that the population at large can do a sound job, but that depends on the quality and range of information they get. MPs had a huge range of sound, factual information. But judging from their voting record, many clearly disregarded heaps of it.”

“Yes, there are many individual stories both for and against this bill. All deserve respect because telling them takes effort. But there’s more to good law than basing it on individual stories. It’s about the collective impact on our community. It should be good, safe law for all. That’s what MPs are there to do but didn’t.”

“The opposition we express is consistently based on concerns that society is full of negative, biased and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, so that people think disabled lives are less worthy. Given this attitude as a basis, the state provides really limited support for us to live well. So it’s disturbing when laws are put up that mean the state will provide the means to die, not live. But that’s where we are now. We aren’t dead yet and we don’t want state-sanctioned death support.”

“A friendly QC commented on my vulnerability to the law thus: “You’re toast.” Me and how many other disabled people?”

Read the full article here.

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MP Alfred Ngaro tables amendment to uphold principles of The Treaty of Waitangi in the euthanasia bill

There is no cookie cutter situation in a world with legalised euthanasia. Every patient is different, bringing their own concerns, views, background and support systems with them in any health decision they make. Integral to this is the patient’s cultural background.

Currently, nothing in the bill requires a medical practitioner, when dealing with Maori, to be culturally competent and carry out assessments in a way that considers Maori culture. Previously, David Seymour has said that cultural considerations and competencies are a serious issue, but has also stated it’s for the people to choose. MP Alfred Ngaro points out that such action is dismissive of real concern about the inequities Maori people face in the current health system. If this isn’t addressed in the euthanasia bill, the system won’t allow for the complexities of Maori language and culture, in assessing cases of euthanasia. Alfred Ngaro has tabled an amendment to the euthanasia bill to address this, by including a part on cultural considerations. This will ensure a practical commitment to uphold the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi is cemented in law.

Watch MP Alfred Ngaro’s speech here.

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‘No-one is beyond help’: Why euthanasia should never be an option

By Danielle Gibbs, Stuff.co.nz, 10 July 2019

We live in a world where things are not perfect. How can we say, “it’s okay for you to die, your life is intolerable” when we don’t always have the means to provide the full support a person needs to live?
We need more support for vulnerable people, such as the disabled and mentally ill, that is based on the individual’s needs. There should not be a set standard…

We need to start thinking that prevention is always better than cure.
We need to tell society that it’s okay to need help. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you know your limits and capabilities. Asking for help is a strength.

Read the full article here.

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Disabled man feeling pressured to “ask” for euthanasia

By Alex Schadenberg , Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, 21st June 2019

To all those who say that things are working well in Canada, and to all those who say that the law can create a ring-fence around assisted death that protects the disabled, we say, ‘Read this true story’:

“I was contacted by man with a disability, who was telling me how he was feeling pressured to ask for euthanasia. After explaining his concerns he sent me this email comment:
I am living in the advanced stages of quadriplegia, now 33 years along. I am feeling the suggestive influence from my nursing care, regarding euthanasia. They use indirect pressure by speaking about other patients who have chosen the path of assisted death, unsolicited from me. I am worried about Canadian laws, so anti-life, and I don’t ever want to end my life. I didn’t choose when I was born, and I won’t choose when I die. Another thing that concerns me is as these evil laws progress against the vulnerable like myself, when will this newfound right to die become the duty or obligation to die? I can see it coming…

People talk about “freedom, choice and autonomy” without realizing how these concepts only apply to euthanasia in theory. In reality, it is the doctor or nurse practitioner who decides if you should die by euthanasia and many doctors and nurse practitioners judge the equality of people with significant disabilities.”

Read the full article here.

We need to take heed of what is happening in countries like Canada – despite what proponents of assisted death such as Stephanie Green might be saying, all is not well in Canada. We still have a chance not to make the same mistake as Canada. Vote ‘no’ to the End of Life Choice Bill.

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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.