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We can’t let voluntary assisted dying negate our commitment to the ill

Natasha Michael, The Age, 22 May 2019

Palliative care doctor Natasha Michael discusses how euthanasia will impact palliative care from her personal experience with death, patients and palliative care.

The introduction of the voluntary assisted dying legislation in Victoria on June 19 will remind us of the occasional failure of medicine. Healthcare was designed with disease in mind, not people. The legislation introduces three major threats to healthcare: validating suicide as an acceptable choice; accepting substandard medical care by supporting the lack of rigour in defining eligibility; and finally, introducing into the healthcare curriculum the intentional ending of life as acceptable medical treatment. Hereby, a new generation of healthcare professionals abdicate their commitment to the sick.

For the patient, the convolutions of modern medicine, the uncertainty of therapeutics, the conundrum of multiple doctors across multiple sites bring an uncertain horizon and instil existential anguish. Their journey of illness is ultimately alienating and lonely. For many, it is the desperation for the restoration of dignity and the return of normality that drives the desire for death: “I want to die, let me die.” Not: “Kill me.”

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Kylee Black: End of Life Choice Bill alarmingly ambiguous for disabled people

by Natalie Akoorie, The New Zealand Herald, 7 March 2018

She pointed out that the bill in its current form does not address whether a doctor is allowed to raise euthanasia with a patient. And that a doctor is not permitted to dissuade a patient from euthanasia if they are eligible.

“What happens if I, as a young person with an irremediable condition, wheel into a doctors and say, ‘I’m suicidal, my life has suffering. I want euthanasia’, and a person without a health condition goes in and asks for the same thing?

“For people not eligible for euthanasia, support to live is given. Does that mean healthy people get access to suicide support, but those with an incurable disability do not?”

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Only one certainty if we make assisted suicide legal

by Dominic Perrottet, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 2017

It’s got me wondering: if NSW or Victoria did cross that threshold, would news organisations continue to include the same potentially life-saving referral to suicide-prevention services in their reports? Or will that footnote need to be updated, with one message for those whose deaths the publishers wish to avert, and another for the people whose deaths they are happy to facilitate?

And what about the suicide prevention hotlines themselves? Will they screen out people whose wish to die sounds rational, and who may qualify under the relevant legislation, distinguishing them from the thousands of callers desperately seeking help to avoid the tragedy of suicide? Will those hotlines be asked to refer people who can legally end their own lives to places where they can get more information on how to go about it? Will the hotlines acquiesce in such requests?

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Assisted suicide is dangerously disablist

by Phillippa Willitts, Global Comment, 22 September 2017

Philippa Willitts is a British freelance writer who specialises in writing about disability, women’s issues, social media and tech.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the current assisted suicide debate in the UK and around the world is the idea that suicide prevention is very, very important and to be prioritised, but only for non-disabled people. When a disabled person becomes suicidal, their urges can be legitimised by their family and friends and approved by a doctor where their non-disabled counterpart would have been offered mental health support (at least they would in the days we had functioning mental health services, prior to austerity).

Why is pain considered a problem that cannot be borne by anybody, but when someone survives an abusive relationship or deals with violent homophobia or faces great financial disadvantage, they are encouraged to live through it, and come out of it stronger? How can we pit one human problem against another and judge that some of them are worthy of death, while others are worthy of encouragement and support?

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