Monthly Archives

June 2015

Euthanasia debate likely to be even more fraught than gay marriage

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Stuff co.nz 28 June 2015
If voluntary euthanasia advocates were hoping for a sympathetic ear in Parliament, the first step – news the health select committee would conduct an inquiry – may have given cause for concern.
“I unambiguously oppose euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in this country,” Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor, chairman of the health committee, said in Parliament on May 28.
“There is no such thing as a right to die. There is a right to life.”
O’Connor’s comments were made before he discovered that he would chair the inquiry into euthanasia, which he announced this week. But the timing was hardly an accident.
At the moment he spoke, campaigner Lecretia Seales lay just a week away from death, which came the same day a High Court ruled she did not have the “right to die” she was fighting for.
Nevertheless, the comments raised little attention, beyond being branded as arrogance by Labour MPs in the House at the time.
This should serve as a warning for those advocating for this particular social change. Being fervently opposed to euthanasia carries nothing like the social stigma of opposition to, for example, gay marriage.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/69724232/Euthanasia-debate-likely-to-be-even-more-fraught-than-gay-marriage

Voluntary euthanasia to be examined by Parliamentary inquiry

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Stuff co.nz 24 June 2015
MPs will carry out an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia.
Announcing an inquiry on Wednesday, chairman of the health select committee, Simon O’Connor, said members were “ready to engage” on what was an “important conversation that needs to be had”.
On Tuesday, former Labour MP Maryan Street and Matt Vickers, the husband of Lecretia Seales, who died of a brain tumour on the same day she lost a High Court bid, presented the End-of-Life Choice petition to MPs.
The petition was delivered to the health select committee on Wednesday and will now be part of a wider inquiry into voluntary euthanasia.
Seales reignited debate after spending her final weeks in a legal bid at the High Court for the right to choose to die.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/69676566/Voluntary-euthanasia-to-be-examined-by-Parliamentary-inquiry

Belgian Doctors Are Euthanizing Patients Without Their Consent

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CNS News 18 June 2015
A study published this month in the Journal of Medical Ethics examined the “deliberate” euthanasia of patients in Belgium without their explicit, voluntary consent as required by law.
The study’s author, Raphael Cohen-Almagor, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the United Kingdom’s Hull University, found that life-ending drugs were used “with the intention to shorten life and without explicit request” in 1.7 percent of all deaths in Belgium in 2013.
In 52.7 percent of these cases, the patients were 80 years of age or older. The decision to euthanize was not discussed with the patient in 77.9 percent of the cases because he/she was comatose, had dementia, or “because discussion would have been harmful to the patient’s best interest,” according to the study.
Belgium passed the Euthanasia Act in 2002, which states that only voluntary euthanasia is legally permissible.
A 2010 research study conducted in Flanders revealed that only one out of every two euthanasia cases was reported to Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee because most non-reporting physicians did not view the active hastening of their patients’ deaths as euthanasia.
Unreported cases were also generally handled less carefully than reported cases and “the lethal drugs were often administered by a nurse alone, not by a physician,” the study noted.
“Whether deliberately or not, the physicians were disguising the end-of-life decision as a normal medical practice,” Cohen-Almagor pointed out.
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/abigail-wilkinson/belgian-doctors-are-euthanizing-patients-without-their-consent

Seales' husband delivers euthanasia petition

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NewsTalk ZB 23 June 2015
Lecretia Seales’ widower is hopeful politicians will look into the issue of voluntary euthanasia.
Matt Vickers has been among those who’ve presented an over 8000 signature petition to parliament today calling for a formal inquiry in current laws around assisted deaths
He’s is confident MPs will heed the petition, and also the comments from the Courts, that it is a matter for Parliament.
Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie, however, is urging caution, particularly around claims a law change would allow choice in the right to die.
“What the international research clearly shows is that a lot of euthanasia happens without consent, and without choice and that should disturb all of us,” he said.
http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/seales-husband-to-deliver-euthanasia-petition/
Euthanasia supporters present petition to Parliament
NZ Herald 23 June 2015
Supporters of voluntary euthanasia, including the husband of the late Lecretia Seales, have presented a petition to Parliament today.
Matt Vickers attended the Voluntary Euthanasia Society’s presentation of the petition, which had some 9000 signatures and called on lawmakers to renew discussion about the right to die.
“Obviously when we got the ruling from the judge…he was quite clear that it was for Parliament to change and that there was good reason for them to do so,” Mr Vickers said.
“My wife showed a lot of courage taking this to the courts. As a result of that we built up a huge groundswell of support across New Zealand.”
Family First New Zealand director Bob McCoskrie said he was concerned the “right to die” would become a “duty to die” for vulnerable people including the elderly and disabled.
Lecretia Seales was unsuccessful in seeking a High Court ruling that would let her doctor help her die without criminal prosecution.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11469853
Voluntary euthanasia petition presented to Parliament
Stuff co.nz 23 June 2015
A voluntary euthanasia petition presented at Parliament has garnered cross-party support.
The petition was delivered to MPs on Tuesday by former Labour MP Maryan Street, who proposed and championed the End-of-Life Choice Bill, and Matt Vickers, the husband of  Lecretia  Seales, who died of a brain tumour on the same day she lost her High Court bid to choose to die.
Vickers, in his first public appearance since his wife’s funeral earlier this month, said the issue was so important to his wife that she’d “spent her final days taking up a court action”.
Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said the protesters were concerned voluntary euthanasia would turn a right to die into a “duty to die”.
No law would ever be able to protect the most vulnerable people in society when it comes to voluntary euthanasia, he said.
The increase in this year’s Budget for palliative care was the right move and reflected a desire to improve the quality of care for those facing terminal illnesses – not the premature ending of their life, McCoskrie said.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/69625397/voluntary-euthanasia-petition-presented-to-parliament.html
Husband calls for ‘right to die’ debate
Radio NZ News 23 June 2015
Matt Vickers’s wife, Lecretia Seales, died earlier this month only hours after learning her High Court fight for the right to die on her terms had failed.
Mr Vickers and the former Labour MP Maryan Street – who in 2013 removed her End of Life Choice Bill from the private member’s ballot – today presented the Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway with a petition signed by 8975 people calling for Parliament to consider the issue.
Ms Seales had sought clarification on whether it would be an offence under the Crimes Act for her doctor to be able to help her die, and whether a ban on assisted dying contravened her human rights under the Bill of Rights Act.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said he did not believe the petition represented the will of the public, and that politicians had already considered the issue.
“There’s the danger that disabled people, elderly people, people who are mentally unwell, people under financial pressure, people who just feel like they’re burden – it won’t be about a right to die, it’ll become a duty to die,” he said.
“That becomes a concern.”
There was “overwhelming” evidence from the United States, Belgium, and the Netherlands that such things had happened, Mr McCoskrie said.
“We did away with the death penalty because we were concerned that we might get it wrong and I think that’s the same reason for staying clear of decriminalising euthanasia – what if we get it wrong, what if the right to die becomes a duty to die.”
http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/276953/husband-calls-for-‘right-to-die’-debate
Lecretia Seales’ husband reignites euthanasia debate
Radio NZ 23 June 2015 
LISTEN HERE: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201759604
Euthanasia debate looking likely for Parliament 
NewsTalk ZB 24 June 2015
A petition’s gone to Parliament formally calling for such a step to be taken.
Lecretia Seales’ widower Matt Vickers was among those who presented an over 8000 signature petition to parliament yesterday calling for a formal inquiry in current laws around assisted deaths.
Justice Minister Amy Adams said the Government’s got no issues with the committee looking into that matter should it choose to.
She said “the Select Committee will make it’s own determination, but the government has made it quite clear that we’re certainly not going to try and direct our members one way or the other.”
“As the Minister responsible for this area I’m certainly comfortable with having an enquiry.”
ACT Leader David Seymour’s presenting his international evidence to support his push for legal euthanasia.
He’s come up against lobby group Family First, who are opposing any move for a law change.
Spokesman Bob McCoskrie said international research clearly shows a lot of euthanasia happens without consent and without choice.
http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/euthanasia-debate-looking-likely-for-parliament/

A healthy, 24-year-old woman to be euthanised in Belgium.

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Alex Schadenberg 21 June 2015
The Belgian euthanasia insanity continues with the case of a 24-year-old healthy woman (Laura) who will die by euthanasia this summer for psychological reasons.
The June 19 DeMorgen article by Simone Maas explains (google translated):
She has good friends, loves good coffee and theater. And she has felt that she wanted to die ever since childhood. Laura (24): “Life, that’s not for me.” This summer, euthanasia will end her life full of inner conflict, depression and self-destruction.
I met the West Flemish Laura at the presentation of the book ‘Libera me’ euthanasia for psychological reasons. Writer Lieve Thienpont is one of the psychiatrists who gave Laura a positive opinion for euthanasia.
Euthanasia for psychological reasons is done when a psychiatrist agrees that the psychological pain that a person is experiencing cannot be relieved in a way that the individual finds acceptable.
That means, Laura may be treatable, but Laura has decided that the only acceptable “treatment” is death.
Similar to the euthanasia deaths of Godelieva De Troyer (64), a healthy Belgian woman who was living with depression or Ann G (44) who asked for euthanasia for psychological pain after being sexually exploited by her psychiatrist, who was treating her for Anorexia, Laura has been approved for lethal injection, even though she is physically healthy and only 24-years-old.
In March, the chairman of the federal euthanasia commission in Belgium admitted that 50 to 60 euthanasia deaths are done on psychiatric patients each year.
Similar cases are occurring in the Netherlands, where a report indicated there were 42 euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons and 97 euthanasia deaths for people with dementia in 2013.
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2015/06/healthy-24-year-old-woman-to-be.html?utm_source=Euthanasia+Prevention+Coalition+Newsletter&utm_campaign=73a94a1493-EPC_Newsletter_Update6_22_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-73a94a1493-157142057&m=1

Virtual Hospice

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IMFC 17 June 2015
Shelly Cory, executive director of Virtual Hospice, remembers when a distraught grandmother contacted the web-based resource. The woman was struggling with how to talk to her three-year-old grandson about his mother’s terminal breast cancer.
“Our team worked together not only to provide her with that guidance, but also to help find ways that mother and son could work together on projects to create a legacy for him,” recounts Cory. “We also offered support in how she could help her grandson in the days, months and years ahead.”
An easily accessible resource like Virtual Hospice that serves patients and loved ones is greatly needed. It’s estimated that only 16 percent of Canadians have access to quality palliative care.1 Virtual Hospice exists precisely to address the gaps in information and support.
A virtual palliative care team
The idea for the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based website was developed by a group of palliative care leaders who recognized that Canadians need a reputable source of information and support, regardless of geographical location. Senator Sharon Carstairs (now retired) was a vocal supporter of this effort.
The website connects people with a team of palliative care experts who provide answers to difficult end of life questions. The team includes physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual care advisors, ethicists, a First Nations Elder and a Patient/Family Advisor.3 Cory says, “Our team is very unique and rare in its range of expertise. Yet, our team is representative of the passion people working in palliative care bring to their work” Connecting to an expert is as simple as offering an e-mail address and postal code.
http://www.imfcanada.org/issues/virtual-hospice

Lawyer shocked by life support 'haste'

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Northern Advocate 13 June 2015
A barrister attempting to delay the death of a 20-year-old on life support at Whangarei Hospital says he was ignored after being told by staff he was not a registered lawyer.
Auckland lawyer Simon Reeves has queried the “unseemly haste” with which the woman’s life support was turned off. She died before Mr Reeves could prepare an injunction ordering the hospital to keep the life-saving machines on.
Mr Reeves had been trying to intervene on behalf of a client whose daughter had been in the intensive care unit (ICU) for 24 hours after delivering a baby who died soon after its birth.
The family had been told by doctors they would switch off their daughter’s life support at 9pm on Wednesday.
At 7.30pm that evening Mr Reeves had received a call from the patient’s mother asking him to start an injunction process – or do anything he could to delay the switching off of life support.
The procedure went ahead at 9pm with what Mr Reeves described as “unseemly haste”.
The 20-year-old woman died soon after.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503450&objectid=11464397

Right-to-die: real life versus theory

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NZ Herald 13 June 2015
Tributes to Lecretia Seales praised her courage in making the end of her life a test case for euthanasia. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who employed her at the Law Commission, said: “Her idea to turn her experience into a law reform project was typical of her. What a brilliant idea. She always thinks of others first. She never complains. I salute her.”
Her husband, Matt Vickers, expressed similar sentiments after her death. He called on Parliament to “have the courage to debate this issue, to show a quantum of the courage my wife has shown these past months”.
So it is fair, I think, to draw what lessons are available from what he has told us of her death. Clearly it was not as drawn-out and dreadful as her lawyers had feared in the High Court at Wellington a week earlier.
Her husband said, “In the end, Lecretia was fortunate that her death happened quickly, and that she was cared for by some very fine health professionals from hospice and DHB. Others are not so lucky”.
The Seales case illustrates one of the practical difficulties with euthanasia: those who are well enough to ask for it don’t want it until their illness is so well advanced that doctors cannot be sure the patient is in the right mental state to make such a fateful decision. Catch 22.
There are other practical problems, including some crucial definitions of terminal illness and whether doctor-assisted suicide should be available for anything a sufferer found unbearable.
These may be the main reasons Parliament has refused to legalise euthanasia. But the practical pitfalls are merely symptomatic of the subject’s sickening disregard for the honour and dignity of living to the last possible gasp.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11464404

Abuse of older people an epidemic in NZ society

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NZ Herald 13 June 2015
Elder abuse is rife in New Zealand society and half of all instances seen by Age Concern involve financial abuse. As many as one in 10 older people may be victims of financial elder abuse, research suggests.
Monday marks the beginning of the 10th annual Elder Abuse Awareness Week. It’s a shock to discover how little humanity some Kiwis have when it comes to the older generation.
“We consider it unacceptable to hit our children and we also need to consider it unacceptable to abuse our elders,” says Robyn Scott, Age Concern’s chief executive.
“We don’t think about the way we speak about older people and we don’t think about their rights.”
Some people think because someone is old it doesn’t matter what happens to them any more or they don’t need money to spend, she says.
We all need to keep an eye out for elder abuse. “Don’t let fear of meddling in someone else’s business stop you from voicing your concern. It is time to stop elder abuse in our communities,” says Scott.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11464389

Judge unfairly targeted in Lecretia Seales right-to-die case

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Opinion: Stuff co.nz 12 June 2015
Justice David Collins drew the short straw when he was assigned to hear Lecretia Seales’ case seeking the right to die at a time of her own choosing.
He made the correct decision, ruling that it was for Parliament, not the courts, to change the law relating to assisted suicide.
He explained his decision in a thorough, carefully reasoned 55-page judgment. That he produced this document in a matter of days, hoping to deliver his decision before Seales died (which he did), was no small achievement.
He was under immense pressure, not only in terms of time but because whatever decision he made was bound to provoke an intense reaction. Few judges have presided over a more emotional case.
But Collins has been given precious little credit. Some media portrayed his decision as cold and heartless, when in fact he was at pains to express sympathy for Seales’ predicament.
TVNZ’s coverage, in particular, was disgracefully loaded.
Of all media, state-owned broadcasters have a particular obligation to be balanced and objective. But TVNZ adopted a partisan and emotive tone, portraying Seales as having been cruelly denied her dying wish.
Her family, colleagues and friends could be excused their extreme disappointment. She was clearly loved and admired, and those closest to her had been through an emotional wringer.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/columnists/69271019/judge-unfairly-targeted-in-lecretia-seales-righttodie-case