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Terry Dunleavy: MPs cannot pass the buck on euthanasia

by Terry Dunleavy, The New Zealand Herald, 29 January 2018

Euthanasia is one issue on which MPs cannot simply just pass the buck to the public. This is an issue which they, and they alone, should decide as a matter of conscience in the spirit of that memorable 1961 debate.

Already, euthanasia has been described as a “licence to kill”, and the start of a “slippery slope”. But, subjecting it to a binding referendum may also be the first step in a slippery slope to the death of parliamentary democracy.

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Peta Credlin: Euthanasia in Australia not the mark of a civilised society

by Peta Credlin, The Telegraph Australia, 26 November 2017

I think it’s a mistake to see it through a personal prism.

In fact, that’s an indulgence if you’re making laws because we should make laws for the most vulnerable in society; for the worst case scenario, not the best.

We must make laws for the lonely, the depressed, the mentally at risk, those who might be preyed upon, the very old and the very young.

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David E. Richmond: In 40 years of terminal care I’ve never seen unmanageable suffering

by David Richmond, The New Zealand Herald, 16 January 2018

In more than 40 years of medical practice as a physician, geriatrician and terminal care manager, I cared for many dying people. My testimony is that I have never seen a person dying with unmanageable suffering.

Dr Havill’s “take” on a whole range of ethical issues is far from current mainline thought. But what left a particularly sour taste in my mouth was his assertion that the rule of “double effect” allows doctors to “pretend” not to be killing a patient when in fact that is their intention. If we ever needed an argument for retaining a voluntary code of conduct such as the Hippocratic Oath, that surely is it.

David E. Richmond is professor emeritus of geriatric medicine at the University of Auckland.

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‘Death with dignity’ devalues disability

by Mike Volkman, Times Union, 27 November 2017

What does it mean to die with dignity? Or the opposite, what is death without dignity or with indignity? There is no legal definition. It is a phrase people like to use with the hope that it is sufficient and accepted. Remember the bit George Carlin did in 1992 about euphemisms? They hide the truth.

Legislative bodies should come up with legal definitions for the term. They should specify what constitutes dignified ways of dying. When they come to define what are undignified ways of dying, the challenge is how to do it without describing circumstances that go with disability. Because if they can’t get around that, then it makes one thing perfectly clear.

That one thing is that it is in the interests of the state to protect all lives except those of people with disabilities. If the presence of a disability, whether it is from birth or from later acquisition, makes it justifiable to place a value judgment on a person for a life-or-death decision, that makes an entire class of people subject to a double standard. That is state-sponsored bigotry allowing up to one sixth of the population to be discarded and unprotected.

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No, most people aren’t in severe pain when they die

by Kathy Eagar, Sabina Clapham, and Samuel Allingham, The Conversation, 11 December 2017

Many people fear death partly because of the perception they might suffer increasing pain and other awful symptoms the nearer it gets. There’s often the belief palliative care may not alleviate such pain, leaving many people to die excruciating deaths.

But an excruciating death is extremely rare.

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  2. Kathy Eagar is Professor and Director at Australian Health Services Research Institute University of Wollongong, University of Wollongong
  3. Sabina Clapham is a Research fellow, Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration, University of Wollongong
  4. Samuel Allingham is a Research Fellow, Applied Statistics, University of Wollongong
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Care Alliance Welcomes Upcoming Debate on EOLC Bill

Care Alliance Press Release, 13 December 2017

The Care Alliance welcomes the upcoming debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand following the decision by MPs to move David Seymour’s End of Life Choice bill through to Select Committee.

“We look forward to a full and robust consultation,” says Care Alliance spokesperson Dr Peter Thirkell. “We will be putting our efforts into the Select Committee process and showing the bill up for all of its flaws.”

“We urge all groups that will be placed at risk by this bill to speak out and make their views known to the Select Committee.”

 

For all media enquiries please contact: 

Dr Peter Thirkell

Care Alliance Secretary

secretary@carealliance.org.nz

027 563-5086

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I want to care for people, not kill them

by Dr John Obeid, The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2017

It is not uncommon for older patients approaching death or other patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness to go through a period of distress or depression as they strive to cope with their prognosis, the fear of the unknown and loss of their independence.

This is when our patients need us most. It is when as doctors and nurses we are called upon to not just cure in a physical sense but also provide healing in a holistic way, through giving our time and compassionate care to patients. It is unthinkable that we would assist such vulnerable patients with suicide.

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It’s not all about death: conversations with patients in palliative care

by Matthew Grant, The Conversation, 3 November 2017

Yet working in palliative care involves surprisingly little immediate dying.

Yes we work with people who have incurable illnesses, but their prognoses vary between weeks, months and even years. And we see other patients potentially being cured but who experience significant side effects from treatment.

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What It’s Like to Learn You’re Going to Die

by Jennie Dear, The Atlantic, 2 November 2017

For many patients with terminal diseases, Coyle has observed, this awareness precipitates a personal crisis. Researchers have given it other names: the crisis of knowledge of death; an existential turning point, or existential plight; ego chill. It usually happens as it did with my mother, close to when doctors break the news. Doctors focus on events in the body: You have an incurable disease; your heart has weakened; your lungs are giving out. But the immediate effect is psychological. Gary Rodin, a palliative-care specialist who was trained in both internal medicine and psychiatry, calls this the “first trauma”: the emotional and social effects of the disease.

In this crisis, some people feel depression or despair or anger, or all three. They grieve. They grapple with a loss of meaning. A person’s whole belief system may be called into question because “virtually every aspect of their life will be threatened by changes imposed by the [disease] and its management,” Lee has written. In a small 2011 Danish study, patients with an incurable esophageal cancer reported that after their diagnosis, their lives seemed to spin out of control. Some wondered why they had received a fatal diagnosis, and fell into despair and hopelessness. “I didn’t care about anything,” one patient said. “I had just about given up.”

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Five common myths about palliative care and what the science really say

by Anna Collins, The Conversation, 2 November 2017

Palliative care is delivered by a multidisciplinary team of experts, such as social workers, counsellors, nurses and volunteers, who are trained to respond to the needs of people with serious illness.

Palliative care is available at any stage of serious illness. Palliative care can be helpful and is recommended early in an illness to work alongside other medical teams to diagnose and treat the cause of symptoms, manage medications, help with communication or decision-making about treatment options, or provide family support.

The principal goal of palliative care is actually the opposite of dependency. It aims to support a person to maintain their independence and quality of life while living with serious illness.

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