Monthly Archives

January 2016

Euthanasia debate: Use your head, not your heart

By | Recent News

Stuff co.nz 28 January 2016
I am a registered nurse of over 10 years-experience in the health care industry.
I have worked with the elderly, the disabled, the mentally, acutely, chronically and terminally ill.
Once upon a time, before I worked in healthcare, I used to sort of support euthanasia. I’d never want it for myself, but what was the problem in giving it to patients who requested it?
What changed my mind? The horrifying large amount of abuse I’ve seen.
Not everyone has a nice family with good support networks. Not everyone has a large circle of friends. Not everyone has wealth and a beautiful face to plaster all over the media demanding a doctor kill them.
Sure, patients would tell me they wanted to die, that they were a bother, a burden, they were taking up space, that a dog wouldn’t be allowed to suffer like this.
Yet, you push a little deeper, and what do you find? Their spouse died years ago. They live in some drafty, cold house that they can’t afford to heat. Their diet isn’t enjoyable any more. Their pension isn’t really enough. They have no real social life. That their friends are sick, dying, dead. Their siblings the same. Their own family just don’t have time for them.
To contrast, I’ve met people who were very sick, often in hospital, either living in a rest home or elder care facility. Yet they had family who were loving, devoted and involved. Birthdays and Christmas presents always sent. Tasty food presented as best their swallowing capabilities allowed. Grandkids. Photos of family and pets and trinkets adorning their rooms. They knew they were valued. That there was a place of honour for them.
Those patients never spoke of death.
‘WORST CASE SCENARIOS’
It actually frustrates me to see the way the media present these cases seeking euthanasia. They’re not the reality for the majority of people facing terminal illnesses. The outcomes painted of horrible pain, floods of diarrhoea, they’re absolute worst case scenarios. In some cheeky articles, I’ve even seen authors intentionally misrepresent palliative care as euthanasia in order to make euthanasia seem more reasonable.
I’ve seen a lot of death.
When Palliative care was involved, it was dignified, peaceful, painless. When the final moments came suddenly, or palliative wasn’t involved, that’s when you get your horror stories.
The media is a strange beast, they offer up stories lauding the choice of suicide of older individuals, who’ve lived long lives, done what they wanted, educated, travelled, made a difference. They kill themselves in the privacy of their own home because the supposed choice of “death with dignity” wasn’t legal where they are. And wow, what a lot of support those stories get. Everyone loves hearing about dignity, choice, freedom! They are good things! Yet the moment some trans kid kills himself, or some teen girl decides cutting just isn’t enough, or a middle aged man succumbs to a lengthy battle with schizophrenia, those are the suicides we’re meant to lament and work to prevent? In some countries, these people could avoid the fuss and mess of a DIY suicide, and have a doctor do it for them.
SLIPPERY SLOPE, OR CATEGORY CREEP?
Belgium recently approved a 24-year-old woman the right to euthanasia because, as she stated, “life, it’s just not for me”. Thankfully, in the end she chose to give living another shot.
In the interests of pushing a very particular agenda, the media offers up for public consumption expertly crafted tales to illicit sympathy for the complainant cause, with very little mention of the abuse and concerns overseas experience has raised. When mention of worry is given, it’s generally always from some conservative Christian who looks like a complete nut-job ranting about God and suicide being a sin and going off about how Hitler started with the disabled and Euthanasia as a term was first used by those nasty Nazi folk!
It’s not really a slippery slope, though, so much as it is a “category creep”.
For Belgium it started with just the terminally ill with six months to live and uncontrolled pain, then it was for all terminally unwell, then the chronically ill, then the mentally unwell, the disabled, children, reports of doctors euthanising new borns with certain non-fatal conditions, now even talk of offering it up to older folk who feel they’ve done their dash.
I have a lot of empathy for those facing these conditions, professionally and personally I’ve witnessed a lot of journeys through terminal illness. I have no doubt ACT Party leader David Seymour and those of his mindset mean well, but they’re grossly misguided about how adequate safeguards can be written into law. There are multiple abuses overseas, as well as quite a few unsavoury stories of complications and failures of the euthanasia process. The idea that two doctors can make this decision without failure or abuse, we already have an example where two certifying consultants are meant to apply the law’s instructions to an individual’s circumstances – abortion. And we all know gosh darn well that that law is loosely applied.
I have no doubt that for some people, legalised euthanasia will be a joyful thing, reassuring, embraced, and competently requested, but for many, many others it will be something that they chose under duress. Poverty, depression, isolation, no family, cruel family, abuse, neglect, lack of resources, lack of choices. We’ll will eventually see circumstances where a person’s choice really isn’t assured, where non-competent persons can be hurried along.
Just consider the kind of penny-pinching our governments like to do, and with all the talk of healthcare budget blow outs, and an increasing elder population, do people really think euthanasia is just a matter of personal preference? An old woman, with a significant health history, living in expensive care facilities, multiple acute hospital stays? Lethal drugs are rather cheap.
The purpose of the law is to protect the weak and the vulnerable, not pander to the wealthy and powerful.
KEEP AN EYE ON EACH OTHER
For some, suicide is their choice – legal or not, chosen competently or not. Keeping it illegal won’t really prevent those persons choosing it of their own hand, but keeping it illegal will protect an awful lot of people who it would be forced upon.
If we want to help the dying, the unwell, we need to demand better funding for our health services, for palliative care. We need to keep an eye on each other, check on that crazy cat lady down the street who never gets visitors. Keep our elderly and disabled relatives in our family activities. Care for those in our communities who don’t have family or a decent social network of support. The enthusiasm that drives us to care for our at-risk youth we need to also apply to how we include the disabled and the elderly in our community.
Yeah, there are some self-isolated jerks out there, but since when did being a jerk allow a death sentence?
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/13771251/Euthanasia-debate-Use-your-head-not-your-heart

facebook_icon
 

Assisted suicide is not a progressive issue

By | Recent News

Pundit 21 January 2016
The statistics from Oregon are clear: the people who have the “choice” of assisted dying are disproportionately white, wealthy and well-educated. Who pays the price for their choice?
So who wants assisted suicide?
In Oregon, the poster child for New Zealand advocates of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the statistics after 17 years of the Death With Dignity Act are emphatic:
White 97.1%
Bachelor degree or higher 45.9%
Private medical insurance 60.2%
Concerned about being “less able to
engage in activities making life enjoyable” 88.7%
That is, the people who are doing the choosing are disproportionately white, wealthy, and well-educated. Having had a good life they want control of how they would face a terminal illness.
Fair enough, you might think, but who pays the price for their ‘choice’?
People like 64-year-old Barbara Wagner, who received a letter from the Oregon state health insurer helpfully advising her that they wouldn’t pay for the chemotherapy drugs she needed, but they would pay $50 for her assisted suicide.
And let’s not forget that the general suicide rate in Oregon has been increasing since 2000, and at last count was 41% above the United States average. That’s a fair warning that when you assist suicide for one group, you are endorsing it as an appropriate response to suffering for everybody.
It is also disabled people who pay the price. Not Dead Yet, an American disability rights group says: “In a society that prizes physical ability and stigmatizes impairments, it’s no surprise that previously able-bodied people may tend to equate disability with loss of dignity. This reflects the prevalent but insulting societal judgment that people who deal with incontinence and other losses in bodily function are lacking dignity.”
David Seymour’s private members bill would allow terminally ill people and those with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” to ask a health professional to supply and/or administer a lethal dose of drugs.
What’s “grievous” and what’s “irremediable”?
Multiple sclerosis? Paraplegia? Autism? Impaired sight or hearing? Depression?
Such words matter supremely in this issue because it is, literally, a matter of life and death.
Assisted suicide advocates like to talk of ‘assisted dying’, ‘physician-assisted dying’ and ‘rational suicide’.
George Orwell warned us why they do this:
political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
Exactly. The advocates do not want the public to have accurate mental pictures of the reality. That is why Mr Seymour’s bill would ensure that the actual cause of death is not recorded on the death certificate.
Last year the Scottish and UK parliaments rejected assisted suicide bills by large margins. The Scottish select committee report, in particular, is a must-read overview of all the competing issues at stake. (For the record, the committee had 5 SNP, 3 Labour and 1 Conservative members.)
The Guardian columnist Giles Fraser recently wrote “let us not pretend that this ‘personal choice’ is unaffected by wider economic realities.”
“by eroding the long-term mutual obligations we have to each other, in sickness and in health, we have arrived at the existential equivalent of a zero-hours contract with life, a contract that can be terminated at will.”
Euthanasia and assisted suicide – or whatever your euphemism of choice – is not a progressive issue.
by Matthew Jansen – Care Alliance
http://pundit.co.nz/content/assisted-suicide-is-not-a-progressive-issue

signup-rollKeep up with family issues in NZ.
Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.

facebook_icon twitter follow us

PROTECT: Groups urge caution on euthanasia

By | Recent News

Euthanasia campaigner appeals to public for support
OneNewsNow 18 January 2016
The euthanasia debate has fired up again with an alliance of religious and medical groups urging caution after a euthanasia campaigner called for more submissions to Parliament in support of a change in the law.
Following a petition to Parliament to consider voluntary euthanasia, its health select committee is taking public submissions on the matter, and they close in two weeks on February 1.
Matt Vickers, whose wife Lecretia Seales died from a brain tumour while campaigning for euthanasia, is calling on people to make a submission.
He’s concerned that submissions to the select committee so far are split about 50-50.
But the Care Alliance, made up of religious, medical and social groups, wants submitters to consider if vulnerable people would be put at risk.
“We have terrible statistics in New Zealand around elder abuse,” said Matthew Jansen, Care Alliance secretary.
“It’s at least 10 per cent and probably a lot higher. And that’s financial abuse and physical abuse and emotional abuse.”
https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/euthanasia-campaigner-appeals-to-public-for-support

signup-rollKeep up with family issues in NZ.
Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.

facebook_icon twitter follow us

Empirical evidence indicates that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are abused.

By | Recent News

Alex Schadenberg Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 11 January 2016
A recent article by Stuart Chambers that was published on January 5 in the Ottawa Citizen claims that:

It was a bitter pill to swallow for secular prohibitionists when large-scale abuses against vulnerable populations failed to materialize in those jurisdictions.

Chambers argues that there is only anecdotal abuse of euthanasia and assisted suicide and only religious arguments oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide ignoring the disability rights movement and the position of Not Dead Yet.

Chambers ignores the data from study that was published in the NEJM on March 19, 2015 on the experience with euthanasia in the Flanders region of Belgium.

The study examined 3751 deaths in the first six months of 2013 in the Flanders region of Belgium and concluded that 1.7% of all deaths were hastened without request representing more than 1000 deaths yearly. The study also determined that euthanasia represents 4.6% of all deaths but the official Belgian reports indicate that euthanasia represents 2.4% of all deaths, meaning that almost half of all assisted deaths went unreported, a clear abuse of the Belgian law.
Chambers also ignored the data concerning the Washington State assisted suicide law.
The 2014 Washington State assisted suicide report states that 176 lethal prescriptions were received, 126 people died by assisted suicide, 17 deaths were from other causes, 6 people remained alive and 27 deaths were from unknown causes. The report states that the ingestion status of the 27 deaths from unknown causes is unknown and the lethal prescription is unaccounted. What kind of oversight is that?
For the purpose of brevity, this article only examines a few key points. It should be a bitter pill to swallow for Chambers that my response did not require anecdotal evidence.
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2016/01/empirical-evidence-indicates-that.html?utm_source=Euthanasia+Prevention+Coalition+Newsletter&utm_campaign=80e6b82cc2-Assisted+suicide+laws+are+abused.&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-80e6b82cc2-157142057&m=1
signup-rollKeep up with family issues in NZ.
Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.

facebook_icon twitter follow us

Widower of Lecretia Seales attacked for attendance at euthanasia conference

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 5 January 2016
The widower of Lecretia Seales says an attack on his possible attendance at a euthanasia conference has lowered the quality of public debate.
Matt Vickers is considering whether to accept an invitation to speak at the Euthanasia 2016 conference in Amsterdam in May.
His possible attendance has been slammed by the Care Alliance, which issued a press release asking if he would now lobby for suicide pills for all over 70s.
Matthew Jansen, secretary of the group, which formed in 2012 and includes Family First NZ, Hospice New Zealand and the Salvation Army, said Mr Vickers’ attendance showed “what a slippery slope the so-called right to die really is”.
“The Dutch organisers of the conference are campaigning for everybody over the age of 70 to have access to a suicide pill as a matter of right. Will Mr Vickers be speaking for or against such a law change here?”
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11569572

signup-rollKeep up with family issues in NZ.
Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.

facebook_icon twitter follow us

John Roughan: Did Lecretia Seales really die in pain?

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 2 January 2016
It is not the happiest of subjects for New Year, but it is one that could make the year memorable. Some time in 2016 we are going to have a serious discussion about life and death. If it feels like we’ve already had one since the Herald made Lecretia Seales its New Zealander of the Year, wait until Parliament’s select committee starts hearing carefully argued ethical submissions on the right to die. Thinking-people are going to be moved.
When I first wrote on this subject last year, just after Ms Seales’ case was in court, I admitted that I found the idea of euthanasia repulsive but I didn’t know why. Gordon McLauchlan sent me a note saying anybody who thinks this issue of human rights is a simple one is very foolish. He also referred me to a recently published monograph in the Australian Quarterly Essay series.
It is a beautifully written work by an Australian doctor and writer Karen Hitchcock, and it is not about euthanasia at all.
It is about assisted dying, a phrase euthanasia advocates are trying to co-opt for their own purpose, but it really means helping people to a natural death. It means all possible pain relief, of course, but much more.
For palliative care specialists such as Karen Hitchcock, it means an attitude to the frailties, needs and often the indignities of near death that treats the person with care, honesty and genuine respect for this phase of life that will come to us all.
Reading the discussion on these pages over the past few weeks, I have often wondered whether those who claim to have witnessed agonised, excruciating deaths are really being honest with us. In response to one such letter, a Ngaio doctor, Sinead Donnelly, wrote, “In more than 23 years as a doctor caring for the dying I have never witnessed what [the correspondent] has experienced. Such distress for the patient and the family can be avoided by excellence in palliative care.”
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11568348

signup-rollKeep up with family issues in NZ.
Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.

facebook_icon twitter follow us