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October 2015

Young and fit and killing themselves using euthanasia drug

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Bendigo Advertiser 8 October 2015
Young and physically healthy people are killing themselves using a drug recommended by euthanasia groups
The state government inquiry into end-of-life choices was told that 52 Victorians died using pentobarbitone, otherwise known as nembutal or “the peaceful pill”, between 1999 and 2014.
Coroners Prevention Unit manager Jeremy Dwyer told the Legal and Social Issues Committee that the majority of those suicides were young people who were physically healthy, but mentally ill.
“There have been claims from the authors of The Peaceful Pill Handbook that their messages are only intended for one group [the elderly and seriously ill],” he said.
“But the unintended consequences of it is that people who are not the stated audience are picking up on it, they’re obtaining Pentobarbitone in the way recommended in the The Peaceful Pill Handbook and Exit International material and they’re suiciding.
“That group used to be the minority, now it’s the majority of Pentobarbitone suicides in Victoria.”
A New Zealand-born woman living in Canada, Gillian Bennett, ended her life using Nembutal in August 2014. She was suffering from the early stages of dementia and called her death a suicide.
A Wellington woman ended her life with Nembutal in 2006, after receiving advice on how to obtain it from Dr Nitschke. She was a life-member of EXIT and was suffering from depression.
A woman died from Nembutal and presented their story as an affidavit in the Lecretia Seales case in May this year.
A South Island man known as John stated in 2009 that he intended to end his life using Nembutal. He was suffering from cancer.
“Dr Nitschke said there were several clear reasons for this trend. Most significant was the aging of the population and the increasing availability of information and drugs capable of providing people with a reliable and peaceful death…
“Reliable sources of the premier euthanasia drug Nembutal are now readily obtained on the internet, and at Exit we encourage elderly people to source this drug…
“Exit has also been instruments in providing elderly New Zealanders with supplies of MaxDog nitrogen, another practical method that guarantees the option of a peaceful death. In particular, the use of MaxDog nitrogen also ensures that the cause death will be impossible to determine, if this is the wish of the person ending their life”×600-normal-0-false-false-false-en.html

Restrictions on Euthanasia Advocate’s Suicide Promotion

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Media Release Euthanasia-Free NZ  26 October 2015
Euthanasia-Free NZ welcomes the Australian Medical Board’s decision to impose restrictions on the medical practice of Dr Phillip Nitschke, the most prominent Australasian advocate of voluntary euthanasia.
“The Board’s decision sends a strong message that it is inappropriate for a doctor to encourage or help someone else to end their own life,” says Renee Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.
Dr Nitschke advocates “rational suicide” for anyone 15 years or older, regardless of their health status or reasons for wanting to die. He promotes a “DIY suicide kit” and has been conducting workshops on how to commit suicide in his capacity as director of the voluntary euthanasia organisation EXIT.
In 2014 he came under fire from two Australian suicide prevention organisations, Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute, after his involvement in the suicide of a physically healthy 45-year-old Australian man, Nigel Brayley.
Complaints have also been made regarding the suicides of Erin Berg, a 39-year-old mother suffering from post-natal depression who died an agonizing death from euthanasia drugs; Lucas Taylor, a 26-year-old suffering from hidden depression; Gillian Clark, a 47-year-old who was undergoing medical tests; and Joe Waterman, a physically healthy 25-year-old, among others.
The Board intends to conclude the longstanding legal and tribunal hearings about Dr Nitschke’s professional conduct with twenty-five conditions. They include not providing advice or information on suicide, not endorsing or encouraging suicide, and referring patients or members of the public interested in suicide to a registered health practitioner or a local health service.
“There is a very fine line between voluntary euthanasia and suicide,” says Ms Joubert. “The only difference between the Nembutal suicides that Dr Nitschke have been facilitating and voluntary euthanasia is the method the lethal drugs are administered. It’s suicide when people administered the drugs themselves. If the drugs had been injected by another person, it would have been called voluntary euthanasia.”
“The promotion of voluntary euthanasia clearly contradicts and undermines suicide prevention.”
‘Doctor Death’ agrees to stop providing advice on how to commit suicide
OneNewsNow 26 October 2015
The longstanding legal battle surrounding the euthanasia campaigner’s professional conduct has come to an end, with the doctor agreeing to stop providing any advice or information on how to commit suicide.
The Medical Board of Australia has imposed 25 strict conditions on Philip Nitschke, known as Doctor Death, in a mediated settlement that will require he practise only in the Northern Territory and under the indirect supervision of a board-appointed supervisor for two years.
Dr Nitschke has consented to the conditions imposed, the regulation agency says, and a tribunal hearing scheduled for November will no longer proceed.
Euthanasia-Free NZ has welcomed the decision to impose restrictions on Dr Nitschke, who they say advocates “rational suicide” for anyone 15 years or older, regardless of their health status or reasons for wanting to die.
Executive officer Renee Joubert says the decision “sends a strong message that it is inappropriate for a doctor to encourage or help someone else to end their own life.”

Statement of Not Dead Yet (USA) to Canadian Panel on Carter Case Decision

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Not Dead 14 October 2015
Not Dead Yet is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices in the United States based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet also demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.
Issues covered:
An Analysis of Claims About Assisted Suicide in Oregon
Financial Pressures
Failure to Address Depression and Other Psycho-Social Factors
Doctor-Shopping for Pro-Assisted Suicide Physicians
Non-Terminal People Receive Lethal Prescriptions
Disability Issues Are Central to Assisted Suicide Requests, But Remain Unaddressed
The Risks of Elder Abuse and Homicide
Why Disability Activists Oppose Assisted Suicide As A Deadly Form of Discrimination
What Should We Learn From Elder Homicide/Suicides?
Elder Suicide

Serious flaws in survey on physician-assisted dying

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Viewpoint published in NZ Doctor 14 October 2015
Many health professionals will have recently received an invitation from their professional organisation to participate in an online survey regarding “physician-assisted dying”.
The research approved by the University of Auckland’s Human Participants Ethics Approval Committee (UAHPEC) appears to have process and methodology flaws that should be of concern to all health professionals who were asked to participate.
First, the source of funding for the research is not disclosed, as required by UAHPEC.
The UAHPEC Manual also requires that every participant should receive a Participant Information Sheet (PIS) when they are invited to participate. A comprehensive PIS was not provided at the start, nor was it provided when specifically requested.
Second, incomplete and inaccurate information is provided. For example, reference is made to overseas jurisdictions that have some form of legalised euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, but no reference is made to the many more jurisdictions that have rejected it, including both the British and Scottish Parliaments in recent months. Nor is any distinction made between different jurisdictions such as Oregon (lethal prescription permitted for a person over 18) and Belgium (euthanasia permitted with no lower age limit).
Respondents are instead directed to a Wikipedia page for further information!
Third, participants engage in the online survey through an unprotected web-link. There is no verification procedure to ensure that a respondent is a New Zealander or, in fact, is a health professional. There is no procedure to prevent multiple responses. There can, therefore, be no confidence in the integrity of the data collected.
Finally, the question and response options in the survey are leading ones. Question 13, for example, says, “What do you see as the role or responsibility of your professional body/ies (together with others) if assisted dying is legalised in New Zealand?” It asks participants to state their agreement or disagreement with various possibilities. The first option is: “a. Providing a position statement on assisted dying”.
Despite all the pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide information noted above, the researchers fail to inform participants that the NZMA already has a statement on this issue which declares it would be unethical even if it were legal.
Academic freedom to investigate complex and contentious issues is vitally important in a democratic society. With this freedom comes the responsibility to conduct research in a rigorous, professional way.
It is regrettable that this survey has not met the University of Auckland’s own research standards.
This is Catherine Hallagan’s personal viewpoint. She is a RNZCGP fellow, NZMA board member and chair of the NZ Health Professionals Alliance Inc, a society advocating for freedom of conscience in healthcare.
New Zealand Doctor 14 October 2015 p 12
“Reprinted with Permission of New Zealand Doctor”


How legalised euthanasia would harm families

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NZ Focus on the Family 20 October 2015
Last week ACT MP David Seymour put forward a new bill that will legalise assisted-suicide here in New Zealand if it is drawn from the ballot and then passed into law.
There are a lot of very good reasons to oppose such a change in our laws – not least of which is the fact that in every other jurisdiction that has embarked down this path (and thankfully there are only a small minority of them so far) vulnerable people have been harmed and even killed without their consent.
One important aspect of this debate that doesn’t get anywhere near enough coverage is the negative impact that such a law would have on many Kiwi families.
Earlier this year I was invited to speak at a conference in Adelaide, and while I was there I met several people who are living through the horrific reality that euthanasia has on family life.
One lady had lost her vulnerable elderly mother after she had been unduly influenced by a pro-euthanasia organisation and supplied with information about how to end her own life in a cold and clinical fashion away from the potential life-saving intervention of her children.
Another woman told the truly tragic tale of their young son, who, while away in Europe on an overseas experience had become depressed and was then secretly coached by individuals from pro-euthanasia organisations in online forums about how to take his own life.
Probably the most harrowing of all for me was meeting Tom Mortier, and hearing about how his 64-year-old mother, who suffered from severe depression, had been euthanised without him knowing. He first found out when he received a message at his work asking him if he would he be able to make the morgue arrangements for his deceased mother’s body.
I would argue very strongly that this is not how a death in the family is meant to take place, and any law which enables such a passing, or creates a framework where this is one of the very real risks, is not something good for families or the wider community.
The closing earthly act of the human experience is something that is profoundly important for both the person who is dying, and the family who will remain behind to mourn their passing and celebrate their life.
Although our death is a solitary experience, in another sense it is also something that is not simply our own, but which is also shared and participated in by our entire family.
The person who is dying takes their final journey communing with, and, often, under the care of their family, in one of the most profoundly intimate and, paradoxically, life-giving moments of family life.
A death in the family, especially when it is anticipated, is often a moment of great healing. When a family truly understands that tomorrow may not come for one their members, they are provided with the ultimate reminder to address old wounds, separations and brokenness before it is too late.
Euthanasia, on the other hand, reduces death to a very individualistic and even self-centred event where the communal aspects can be completely stripped from death and replaced with a solitary, isolated and possibly even secret death in the family.

Exclusive: Taxpayer-funded study by euthanasia supporters 'fatally flawed'

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OneNewsNow 20 October 2015
The Government is under fire for funding a study on euthanasia that’s being run by researchers who support assisted dying.
Opponents are angry, claiming the study asking doctors and nurses for their views on euthanasia is biased and flawed.
The study is being led by two Auckland researchers, Dr Phillipa Malpas and Dr Pam Oliver, who told participants “we are independent”.
But they didn’t reveal they’re members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society which is pushing for a law change to let doctors help patients die.
The lead researcher, Dr Malpas, supports euthanasia.
“We’re actually not seeing the kind of abuses that people worried about. We’re not seeing the slippery slope,” she told TV ONE’s Breakfast programme in 2011.
Before the study began, a reviewer questioned her links with the pro-euthanasia lobby, asking, “Does this not have to be declared?”
But it wasn’t.
Euthanasia Research Funded By Taxpayers
Media Release Care Alliance 19 October 2015
The government’s Health Research Council is funding euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) research, according to documents released to the Care Alliance under the Official Information Act.

The research, conducted by Dr Phillipa Malpas and Dr Pam Oliver, is the subject of complaints to the University of Auckland’s Human Participants Ethics Committee.

Matthew Jansen, spokesperson for the Care Alliance, says “It is appalling that the HRC is funding a lopsided survey that is intended to help draft legislation to kill people.”

Mr Jansen also highlighted the University of Auckland’s role in providing ethics approval for the research. “Two reviewers specifically noted that Dr Malpas is an advocate of euthanasia and assisted suicide, but they then failed to make sure that participants were told.”

“Drs Malpas and Oliver did not tell the Ethics Committee at the outset that they are members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, and they went on to tell survey participants that they are ‘independent’.”

“In reality they are using public funds for a private campaign.”

He says there are many other serious deficiencies in the survey which mean it should never have been approved. “They have even cited Wikipedia as a source of information for survey participants, for goodness sake. That’s an insult to the academic integrity of the University.”

Mr Jansen has written to the Chair of the University of Auckland’s Human Participants Ethics Committee asking for its approval to be suspended until the deficiencies are corrected.

Why do older people oppose physician-assisted dying? A qualitative study

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Palliative Medicine     
Palliat Med April 2014   vol. 28  no. 4  353-359
Background: Physician-assisted dying at the end of life has become a significant issue of public discussion. While legally available in a number of countries and jurisdictions, it remains controversial and illegal in New Zealand.
Aim: The study aimed to explore the reasons some healthy older New Zealanders oppose physician-assisted dying in order to inform current debate.
Design: Recorded interviews were transcribed and analysed by the authors after some edits had been made by respondents.
Setting/participants: In all, 11 older participants (over 65 years) who responded to advertisements placed in Grey Power magazines and a University of Auckland email list were interviewed for around 1 h and asked a number of open-ended questions.
Results: Four central themes opposing physician-assisted dying were identified from the interviews: one’s personal experience with health care and dying and death, religious reasoning and beliefs, slippery slope worries and concern about potential abuses if physician-assisted dying were legalised.
Conclusions: An important finding of the study suggests that how some older individuals think about physician-assisted dying is strongly influenced by their past experiences of dying and death. While some participants had witnessed good, well-managed dying and death experiences which confirmed for them the view that physician-assisted dying was unnecessary, those who had witnessed poor dying and death experiences opposed physician-assisted dying on the grounds that such practices could come to be abused by others.
1. Phillipa J Malpas – 1Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
2. Maria KR Wilson – 2The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
3. Nicola Rae – 3Counties Manukau Health Chronic Pain Service, Manukau SuperClinic, Auckland, New Zealand
4. Malcolm Johnson – 1Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Defining ourselves in the debate over death

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Stuff 17 October 2015
OPINION: Thanks to a little-known politician, New Zealanders are about to embark on another round of debate over one of the more important issues facing our society. It’s important because it could tweak the foundations of who we are. And over time, that would change many more aspects of our society than we currently suspect.
We don’t have to guess that this is what legalising assisted suicide will do: We already know.
After all, assisted suicide has been legal in both the Netherlands and Belgium for more than a decade now. We know that when the laws were passed they were aimed very carefully at those who faced “hopeless and unbearable” suffering, and explicitly volunteered to die.
We know that children under the age of 12 were exempt from selecting voluntary euthanasia. We know that the elderly, or the depressed would never have qualified thanks to the need for multiple doctors to agree on the “hopelessness” of the medical condition, and we know patients would have been protected from errant doctors by specialised ethics committees.
But, of course, the boundaries of right and wrong never remain still for long in human societies.
That’s why it is no surprise that now, under the “Groningen Protocol”, a child of any age can be euthanased in the Netherlands. And their permission is not needed, thanks to the guidelines stating that mum and dad can make the call to kill if they believe it is the best option for their child. In fact, newborn babies are being euthanased by permission of their parents now.
It’s also no surprise that in February last year, Belgian politicians voted to formalise such practices in law, removing all age restrictions on assisted suicide. Debate now rages over the legality of assisted suicide for otherwise-healthy people with mental illness or depression, thanks to the very high profile case of 24-year-old “Laura” which made headlines the world over after she was granted permission to die.
And in the Netherlands the boundaries are far from settled, currently thanks to the group “Out of Free Will” which demand the right to die for over 70s who feel they have completed life.
As I say, it is no surprise, despite where the Netherlands and Belgium began their journeys on legal, voluntary, assisted suicide for those facing terminal illness and unbearable suffering.
After all, once we humans have pushed the boundaries of right and wrong a little further in (for those boundaries exist to keep evil contained, and us free from it) we soon forget where the lines once were and wish again for a little more “freedom”. It doesn’t matter whether we are Kiwi, Belgian or Dutch.
And it is all so strange and sad that we should even consider death as an option in the face of the ever-developing, cutting edge medical advances. We could choose to throw our time, efforts and money at them, making sure that those who may face death do so with as much comfort, support and love as we can possibly give them.
We could be the country that took the horror out of suffering, the pain and loneliness out of age, the blackness out of depression, instead of just another country that killed.

Netherlands 2014 euthanasia report – another 10% increase.

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Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 10 October 2015
The 2014 Netherlands euthanasia report was released indicating that there was another 10% increase in assisted deaths. There were also 41 assisted deaths for psychiatric reasons and 81 assisted deaths for dementia. The term assisted death refers to deaths by euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The 2014 report stated that there were reported 5306 assisted deaths up from 4829 reported assisted deaths in 2013. These numbers do not include the unreported assisted deaths.
Every five year the Netherlands has a meta-analysis euthanasia study. In 2010 the Lancet study indicated that 23% of all assisted deaths were unreported in the Netherlands.The number of assisted deaths in the Netherlands continues to increase.

Key backing gives boost to euthanasia bill

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NZ Herald 15 October 2015
A push to legalise voluntary euthanasia has been boosted by the Prime Minister’s endorsement.
John Key said he would support a new member’s bill lodged by Act leader David Seymour yesterday if it was drawn from the ballot.
“In all probability if it’s drawn I will vote for it,” he said.
The Government would not pick up the bill, meaning it could be years before it comes before Parliament.
But Mr Key’s endorsement could play an important role in changing minds on the contentious issue.
On the last conscience vote to be held in Parliament, for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the Prime Minister also confirmed early in the process that he would support the legislation, which later passed easily.
Mr Seymour began work on his End of Life Choice Bill after another bill, originally sponsored by former Labour MP Maryan Street, was removed from the ballot.
His bill had stricter safeguards than Ms Street’s bill, including a requirement that a person was likely to die within six months, instead of 12 months. They would also need to have approval from two doctors.
If the bill was pulled from the ballot, MPs would cast a personal vote instead of voting along party lines.