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‘Voluntary assisted dying’ legislation could put lawyers at our deathbeds

By Mary McComish, WA Today, 5th August 2019

Under the Victorian law, the two assessing doctors (in WA it may involve a doctor and a nurse practitioner) have to assess and certify as to around a dozen eligibility criteria and other things.

For example was the person a resident in Victoria, did the person have decision-making capacity (not compromised by depression or other mental health condition), was the person acting voluntarily and without coercion, did the person suffer from a disease, illness or medical condition, was it expected to cause death within six months, was it causing intolerable suffering?

… Any of these assessments or acts could be open to question, especially things like prognosis, capacity and absence of coercion in the decision.

Answering the questions could well involve extensive bedside interviews in the presence of opposing lawyers.

Read the full article here.

The legal implications of legalising euthanasia are much more complex than people think, as seen in Victoria, Western Australia. Many different variables and assessments are open to question, coercion and error.

Surely it is better to support and resource our health professionals instead of turning to such a problematic and inherently dangerous piece of legislation?

Once this path is taken, there will be no going back.

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A myth: Euthanasia only for the terminally ill

By Felicity Caldwell, Brisbane Times, July 5 2019

Euthanasia advocates are constantly seeking to extend the circumstances where euthanasia should be available. Although advocated as only for those who are terminally ill, other jurisdictions where euthanasia has been legalised show the support for massive shifts in accessibility to include ‘mature minors’ (children under the age of 18), as well as people with psychiatric conditions.

Boundaries and exceptions around euthanasia are bound to expand, do we really want to take such a significant risk?

Read the full article, ‘Let teens and mentally ill decide on death: Queensland euthanasia advocate’ 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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Euthanasia cannot solely be contained to the terminally ill

By Jen Mills, Metro News, 7 July 2019

A paralysed man in the United Kingdom will be going before the High Court in London seeking the right to be euthanised by the state.

A paralysed man in the United Kingdom will be going before the High Court in London seeking the right to be euthanised by the state.

As opponents note, the request contravenes articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights – even though his request uses the language of human rights.

The case shows the mistruth that euthanasia can possibly remain limited to people with a terminal illness. Over time many people including disabled people like Mr Lamb will bring lawsuits challenging the law until they can be provided with assisted suicide.

It doesn’t matter what ‘safeguards’ are employed. Once it becomes a ‘right’ to be killed, it will inevitably become ‘discrimination’ to deny that right to individuals like Mr Lamb.

Read the article here.

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Report: 60% of Patients Needing Palliative Care Do Not Receive It

By Jim Parker, Hospice News, 3 July 2019

Close to 60% of patients who would benefit from palliative care do not receive those services, despite the availability of community-based palliative care as well as hospital-based palliative care, according to a new report from the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst Insights Council. 

Lack of awareness is a major barrier to palliative care expansion. A Journal of Palliative Medicine study, published in April, found that as many as 71% of people in the United States have little to no understanding of what palliative care is, including many clinicians in a position to refer patients to palliative care or hospice. 

How can euthanasia be proposed when good palliative care is not easily accessible for everyone?

Read the full article here.

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American Medical Association Says ‘No’ to Physician-Assisted Suicide

By Frederick J. White, RealClearHealth, 5 July 2019

This summer, after 2 years of in-depth study by our Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) and another year of formal debate, we at the AMA House of Delegates voted at the annual meeting by a 71% majority to reaffirm our opposition to physician assisted suicide, again noting that it is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”  

We are the largest medical association in the country. With our recent vote reaffirming opposition we join the 2nd largest physician association, the American College of Physicians, which reaffirmed its opposition in 2017, as well as the World Medical Association, which reaffirmed its opposition in 2015.

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.

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Newshub Nation Interview with anti-euthanasia advocate Vicki Walsh

Vicki Walsh was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer 8 years ago, and has so far defied the predictions. She discusses the effect her prognosis and treatment had on her, as well as how legalised euthanasia could have affected her.

I was actually suffering, I believe, from depression and exhaustion and the shock of finding out you’re dying. All those things were combined. Any one of those things would be quite difficult to deal with, let alone having them all at once.

Read the article here.