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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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Watching my uncle die – and his mood swings – confirmed my opposition to euthanasia

by Mike Yardley, Stuff, 5 December 2017

It’s the unintended consequences of allowing euthanasia that particularly perturb me, whereby shifting societal values would make seniors and the disabled increasingly feel like a financial and emotional burden, and obliged to seek termination.

Such coercion might be undetectable, but how can you possibly safeguard against it? David Seymour is welcome to try and convince me.

Click here to read the full article.

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Care Alliance Welcomes Health Select Committee Report

Media Release, 23 November 2017

The legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Victoria, by the narrowest of margins, introduces an unsafe and unnecessary practice into the heart of their healthcare practice, says Dr Peter Thirkell, Spokesperson for the Care Alliance. Australian medical organisations have stated on numerous occasions that such laws are inherently unsafe, and in the words of the Australian Medical Association mark “a significant shift in medical practice in Victoria.”

The result in Victoria is contrary to what happened in New South Wales just a week earlier where parliamentarians had the wisdom and courage to vote down a similar bill. As NSW Labour health spokesman Walt Secord notes, “It is not possible to put in place sufficient safeguards and protections to prevent abuses of these laws. And this is before we consider the invidious pressures of medical costs, financial burdens on families or the prospect of manipulation in regard to inheritances.”

The Victorian decision also flies in the face of advice from Palliative Care Victoria to their own parliamentary inquiry, opposing the legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide and saying that what it really needs is more money to be spent on palliative care. The Care Alliance is reassured by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s promise just yesterday to undertake work on finding a more sustainable model for funding palliative care in New Zealand. This echoes the conclusions of the recent New Zealand Health Select Committee report, which could not recommend any change in the law but rather urged the Government to better support the work and funding of palliative care providers.

Dr Thirkell concludes, “Victoria has ignored the weight of international evidence. It’s not where we start with euthanasia but where a law change would take us – that is the problem. The evidence is clear – where legislation has passed there are quickly pressures to extend it.” The Care Alliance calls on MPs to look carefully at the international evidence while also taking proper account of our own unique context. New Zealand medical, palliative, and hospice organisations all oppose such legislation, as well as 80% of more than 22,000 submissions to the Health Select Committee last year. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are both dangerous and unnecessary.

ENDS

Media contact

Peter Thirkell

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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Voluntary assisted dying bill defeated in NSW upper house

by Sean Nicholls, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 2017

The debate was opened by Labor health spokesman, Walt Secord, who acknowledged the “strong, emotional, compassionate desire behind [the bill]”.

But he added: “I have not yet seen it possible to develop adequate legislative safeguards to protect people from the misuse of these laws.”

“I have not yet seen a legislative model in this area that cannot be exploited or manipulated. And I cannot support any gaps for exploitation when the consequences are so final”.

Click here to read the full article.

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Assisted dying legislation creates different categories of human life

by Emma Dawson, The Age, 16 October 2017

Last month, Go Gentle released a short film designed to be “almost unwatchable” in its re-enactment of a man’s death, his unbearable suffering and that of his family. By relying on this horror show to make their argument, the wealthy, white, middle-aged folk behind Go Gentle are exploiting people’s deepest fears rather than making a rational case for legislative change.

The demographic make-up of the lobby group is significant. The push for assisted dying worldwide is driven by wealthy Western baby boomers who have enjoyed over their lifetimes a relative freedom from serious illness and a level of personal autonomy unprecedented in human history.

With our first world medical care and significant economic privilege, we have apparently reached a state of “peak wellness” in which defeating the force of death is the last battle.

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Euthanasia: Doctors’ licence to kill limits aged-care options

by Angela Shanahan, The Australian, 21 October 2017

For all the talk of autonomy, euthanasia is giving doctors a ­licence to kill. Of course, we must ask ourselves how institutionalising this practice will affect the care of the disabled and particularly the frail aged. How far will it lead to a ­euthanasia mentality? ­Already doctors have expressed concern that more resources will go towards people who want ­assisted suicide than those who want palliative care.

The head of palliative care at St Vincent’s in Melbourne has pointed out the illogicality of the Victorian legislation, which will, if a terminally ill person wants euthanasia, allow for multiple medical and psychiatric assessments — but the same resources will not be available for a person who wants palliative care. In effect, we will prioritise suicide over palliative care. There is something gravely wrong in that logic.

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Paul Keating: Voluntary euthanasia is a threshold moment for Australia, and one we should not cross

by Paul Keating, The Age, 19 October 2017

The justifications offered by the bill’s advocates – that the legal conditions are stringent or that the regime being authorised will be conservative – miss the point entirely. What matters is the core intention of the law. What matters is the ethical threshold being crossed. What matters is that under Victorian law there will be people whose lives we honour and those we believe are better off dead.

One of the inevitable aspects of debates about euthanasia is the reluctance on the part of advocates to confront the essence of what they propose. In this case it means permitting physicians to intentionally kill patients or assisting patients in killing themselves. Understandably, the medical profession is gravely concerned by this venture.

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Deputy Premier says Labor’s death Bill is risky and bad legislation

by James Dowling, Herald Sun, 11 October 2017

Mr Merlino said the issue was not part of an election campaign and the person “on the street” would be surprised to learn euthanasia laws will be introduced to parliament next week.

Mr Merlino said the “risky and bad legislation” amounted to a pro-suicide Bill and has lobbied his colleagues to vote against it.

“I think this has come along without a lot of public awareness.

“I think it needs a longer, deeper engagement with all areas of our society.”

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Language as a battlefield: How we got from euthanasia to voluntary assisted dying

by Karl Quinn, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 2017

Call them dying words if you will, but the language around this issue has long been a battlefield, both here and in the handful of places worldwide where some form of euthanasia has already been legalised (Switzerland came first, in 1942).

In Australia, advocacy group Go Gentle has combed through historical opinion polls to show strong support for euthanasia legislation (as high as 85 per cent) dating back to 2007.

But as The Conversation noted in May when fact-checking author Nikki Gemmell’s claim on Q&A that 80 per cent of Australians “support euthanasia laws”, that support varies significantly depending on how the question is framed, and what language is used. Use the word “suicide”, for instance, and support plummets. 

Click here to read the full article.