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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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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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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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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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What does euthanasia mean for those who want to live?

by James Eglinton, The Sunday Herald, 17 May 2018

A society that legalises it automatically creates a new pair of choices for all of its citizens. These choices – to stop living, or to carry on living – are both novelties occasioned by the legalisation of euthanasia. If the terminally ill are granted the right to die, every terminally ill person who declines this new possibility is necessarily making the counter-choice to carry on living. The same is true regardless of which group is given the right to choose death: the old, the ill, the depressed, the poor, and so on.

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I am a disabled person and I don’t back the right to die for one very important reason

by James Moore, Independent, 5 October 2017

I am aware that even the late Professor Stephen Hawking shifted his position on assisted suicide, arguing in a BBC interview that “to keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity” and stating that he would consider assisted suicide were he in “great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me”. 

But that comment about being a burden troubles me. It’s very possible that an otherwise more or less happy disabled person could suddenly find themselves in a difficult situation with family or carers, and could, as a result, start to become so convinced that they were a “burden” that they might feel the same way when with the proper support they wouldn’t dream of it. 

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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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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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Euthanasia bill ‘dangerous’ – Palliative care workers

by Emma Hatton, Radio New Zealand, 27 April 2018

The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada are some of the countries where euthanasia has been legalised.

But, Professor MacLeod said there was no place yet, where the law provided absolute safety to those who were vulnerable.

“There is no jurisdiction anywhere across the world that has produced a law that is safe – there have been cracks in all of them.”

Te Omanga Hospice medical director, Ian Gwynne-Robson, said one issue for the sector was ensuring it had enough experienced doctors.

He said if euthanasia was an option, inexperienced doctors may offer it as the best option, when this might not be the case.

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How do the Dutch respond to euthanasia requests from the intellectually disabled?

by Michael Cook, Bioedge, 14 April 2018

Despite the fact that assessing the capacity of intellectually disabled people is very difficult and a task for specialists, the authors found that only in one of the nine cases was a specialist consulted.

“The Dutch cases raise the possibility that the bar for assessment of intractable suffering is set lower for people with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder than for the general population, by considering their long term disability as a medical rather than a social condition. We found no evidence of safeguards against the influence of the physicians’ own subjective value judgements when considering EAS decision, nor of processes designed to guard against transference of the physicians’ own values and prejudices.”

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