NZ Herald 2 March 2015
Dr Rob Jonquiere, communications director of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, was invited by the Bay of Plenty Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Ken Orr, spokesman for New Zealand Right to Life, said his group was lobbying vigorously to ensure voluntary euthanasia remained illegal.
Orr said Dr Jonquiere’s message: “Is a threat to the most vulnerable in our community; the disabled, the aged and the mentally ill. Once we have the right to die it’ll become a duty to die for the elderly in retirement homes, Alzheimer’s patients, people with dementia … If we allowed assisted suicide, you have a situation that becomes very dangerous because it’s much easier to kill a patient than to care for them.”
The New Zealand Medical Association opposes euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.
The NZMA website states, “Even if they were to become legal, or decriminalised, the NZMA would continue to regard them as unethical.”
Dr Jonquiere says Holland’s medical association supports voluntary euthanasia.
“They’ve [the medical association] been at the basis of the formulation of protocol.”
Waipuna Hospice medical director Dr Murray Hunt said: “I’ve struggled to see how the medical profession can attend that balancing act. This consultation, supporting the patient, for life, the next consultation, assisting that patient to die – I personally think that concept sits outside medicine.”
It’s the patient’s right to have freedom from pain to best of the health community’s ability to provide that.
Dr Hunt says the region’s growing elderly population (the Bay of Plenty Times this week reported Tauranga’s retiree population will double within 30 years) and a 30 per cent lifetime chance of developing some form of dementia mean families and communities must continue discussing end-of-life care.
“In nine out of 10 patients, we have very good answers or approaches for pain control. There are patients with a broader context of pain – existential, psychosocial complexities. For them, it’s increasingly challenging to achieve pain control, but we’ll never stop trying. It’s the patient’s right to have freedom from pain to best of the health community’s ability to provide that.”
Waipuna Hospice chief executive Richard Thurlow said his organisation’s mission was neither to prolong nor shorten life.
Thurlow hoped more government funding would give patients in the Bay of Plenty greater access to hospice care.
“Every year, more patients are on the books. It’s sad, but it’s a sign the right people are getting to us. Dying unsupported in this day and age shouldn’t happen.”
Dr Jonquiere said medically assisted dying was not about termination of life.
“It’s about termination of suffering … one of the major tasks of doctors given by the Hippocratic oath.”
Quebec, last year, passed right-to-die legislation, making it the only Canadian province to allow the practice.
Five US states allow medically assisted deaths.