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In Reply to Supporters of the End of Life Choice Bill

by Dr Rosalie Evans, New Zealand Doctor, 27 February 2018

I believe that the care of those who are suffering or who are terminally ill is a very important issue for New Zealanders in general, and for doctors in particular, to consider. We, as health professionals, need to think about how euthanasia and assisted suicide, if legalised, would affect both our most vulnerable patients and ourselves. 

Human dignity is innate to every person. It is not defined by a person’s abilities or by an individual’s contribution to society. I refute totally the premise that a person’s dignity is diminished according to that person’s degree of dependency on others for her or his care. 

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Fears voluntary euthanasia laws will make older people more vulnerable to elder abuse

by Rebecca Turner, ABC News, 24 February 2018

Dr Blackwell says there is a generation of elderly patients who could be vulnerable because they don’t want to be a burden on their family.

“In our practice we see elder abuse occurring in residential aged care,” he said.

“So, yes, there is potential then that if voluntary euthanasia legislation comes into being that people could, if you like, be headed in that direction without really wanting to go there.”

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Nurses’ unique perspectives on end-of-life choices must be heard

by Taumihau Teremoana, Nursing Review, 1 February 2018

The topic of end-of-life care without fail brings up the “ineffectiveness” or “effectiveness” of our palliative and hospice Services. I would like to weigh in on this argument as a registered nurse who has seen for seven years the direct impact of resourcing on the delivery of patient services.

Our pride in holistic care; critical thinking and unique perspectives need to be included in these discussions. As for my opinion: I’ve concluded that this Bill, although presenting itself as a compassionate means of addressing suffering, will unfortunately fail to achieve this holistically in our society.

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Ron Jones: Leave doctors out of ‘assisted dying’ discussion

by Ron Jones, The New Zealand Herald, 23 March 2016

Since there are currently no medical indications for ending a person’s life, the use of the word “medical” by legislators dishonestly transfers undue responsibility for the act of euthanasia to the medical profession.

Termination of life is an anathema to most doctors and I doubt if many will wish to participate.

Palliative care physicians, arguably the most trusted and empathetic members of our profession, will not have a bar of it. This may lead to a small coterie of doctors who wish to be involved – “Doctor Deaths” – a phrase that will not be welcomed by the profession or most of the public.

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Physician-assisted suicide won’t atone for medicine’s ‘original sin’

by Dr Ira Byock, StatNews, 31 January 2018

From its inception, the profession of medicine has been charged with guiding society in matters related to health and wellbeing. Organized medicine should now be leading the charge for substantial improvements in caring for incurably ill patients. Instead, in several states the profession has begun to embrace physician-hastened death.

In today’s high-tech medicine, doctors treat disease. Patients’ well-being gets short shrift. When disease can no longer be kept at bay, modern medicine tends to give up altogether.

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Doctor support for assisted suicide drops radically after legalization

by HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Prior to the legislation being passed, 48% of doctors surveyed indicated a willingness to participate in assisted suicide, with a further 30% saying they would do so with certain conditions being met, making a total of 78% of doctors supporting legalised killing.  After the legislation passed, these numbers inverted, with most doctors admitting that they were unable to stomach the idea of killing their patients:

77% refused to actively participate in their patients’ medical-aid-in-dying process, all of them using the conscientious objection clause, thus requiring a substitute physician be identified so as to provide the intervention required.

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How many botched cases would it take to end euthanasia of the vulnerable?

by Charles Lane, The Washington Post, 24 January 2018

As bioethicists David Miller and Scott Kim of the National Institutes of Health note in a recent paper , “Dutch physicians . . . report difficulty in applying the [euthanasia] laws,” especially when it comes to judging patients’ volition and deciding whether there is any “reasonable alternative” to euthanasia.

For now, these vulnerable people, and those in Belgium and the Netherlands who would protect them, are on their own.

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Dr John Fox: Assisted dying is not the right cure for suffering

by Dr John Fox, The New Zealand Herald, 31 January 2018

It is only disabled people who seem to be a category we cannot support; only the end of life as a society we cannot face. Because here is the reality: legalising euthanasia under the model on the table now does not simply apply to hard cases like Mr Rope’s father, people with strong minds and wills who know what they want.

To include not only the terminally ill, but people with incurable and severe conditions means me, and the vast majority of disabled people.

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My wife reversed her Do Not Resuscitate order – I can’t support euthanasia

by Name Withheld, Stuff, 27 December 2017

In early 2017 my wife received a double lung transplant. Her recovery was not straightforward.

On day 10 she had developed respirator acquired pneumonia. Doctors were hopeful for her recovery, but warned me that because her immune system was being suppressed (to prevent rejection of the new lungs), it was not certain.

On day 12, a Friday, I was told she almost certainly was not going to recover. I was warned that early the following week a decision about terminating life support would need to be made.

My wife’s doctor has since admitted that at that point the medical team believed she was going to die.

Despite this they did not stop assisting her fight for life. They tried two treatments they had previously been reluctant to attempt because they were high-risk. Over the next few days, my wife’s condition slowly improved. Now, eight months later, she is still in recovery but looking forward to an extended life span.

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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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