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February 2016

Good palliative care could avoid need for euthanasia debate – expert

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Stuff co.nz 17 February 2016
Family First Comment: “If palliative care was consistently high quality, accessible and saw more money spent on research for end of life drugs and services, New Zealand would likely not need to have the assisted suicide debate, he believed.” Exactly

If palliative care was consistently of high quality, and fully available, New Zealand would likely not need a debate on assisted suicide, an expert believes.
ACT leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill is currently before Parliament’s health select committee, following a period of submissions which closed on February 1.
Dr Michael Downing said for a small percentage of the population it was extremely important to appoint their own time of death, but he asked if that was a good reason to change the law.
“To what extent do you modify the law for a very small but important percentage?”
The Canadian-born doctor has been the palliative care medical lead for the South Canterbury District Health Board for two years.
He saw the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon in 1999, and in his homeland of Canada in February 2015. He said he was now hearing the debate in New Zealand.
A broad sector of the population supported legislation for assisted suicide here, with 71 per cent wanting a law change in a 2015 New/Reid research poll.
Based on other countries’ experience, however, only a few would follow through with it if legalised.
“It’s an interesting mismatch.”
If palliative care was consistently high quality, accessible and saw more money spent on research for end of life drugs and services, New Zealand would likely not need to have the assisted suicide debate, he believed.
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/76850162/Good-palliative-care-could-avoid-need-for-euthanasia-debate-expert

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OPPOSING EUTHANASIA – Jeanette’s Story: 15 Years Later

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In 2000, when Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, had less than a year to live, she asked her cancer doctor for the pills to commit suicide. Dr. Kenneth Stevens got to know her better and inspired her to consider treatment. The tumor just “melted away” and now — 15 years later — Jeanette says: “It’s great to be alive!”

Belgian woman euthanised after heartbreak

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Christian Concern 11 February 2016
FAMILY FIRST COMMENT: This is a disturbing but predicted outcome of euthanasia: “The law requires that two doctors and a psychologist evaluate a person’s request for euthanasia. In Belgium, euthanasia on the grounds of ‘unbearable suffering’ is permitted. In this case, the doctors decided that Tine’s break-up was a reasonable justification for her wanting to end her life. The two sisters felt that very little effort was made to persuade Tine to live.”
Two women have spoken out about the euthanasia of their sister, Tine Nys, in Belgium.
On Christmas Eve 2009, Tine, who was 37 at the time, announced her intention to pursue euthanasia, following a split from her boyfriend.
She was killed by lethal injection on 24 April 2010, with her parents and her sisters Lotte and Sophie by her side.
In a recent interview with Terzake, a Flemish current affairs television programme, Lotte and Sophie expressed their dismay at the attitude doctors took toward Tine’s request.
The law requires that two doctors and a psychologist evaluate a person’s request for euthanasia. In Belgium, euthanasia on the grounds of ‘unbearable suffering’ is permitted.
In this case, the doctors decided that Tine’s break-up was a reasonable justification for her wanting to end her life. The two sisters felt that very little effort was made to persuade Tine to live.
Not only did the three doctors fail to communicate with each other, but they failed to offer treatment for Tine’s diagnosed autism.
One doctor described Tine’s death as “a lethal injection administered to a favourite pet to end its suffering”.
A Flemish psychiatrist, Joris Vandenberghe, commented: “This is really very worrying. The bar for euthanasia should be higher
READ MORE: http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/end-of-life/belgian-woman-euthanised-after-heartbreak?utm_source=Christian+Concern&utm_campaign=ce19b2199c-WN-2016-02-13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9e164371ca-ce19b2199c-127299873

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Euthanasia cases double in Belgium in just five years

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MailOnline 5 February 2016
The number of people to die by euthanasia in Belgium has more than doubled in just five years, new figures have shown.
More than 2,000 people died last year under the country’s euthanasia laws, which cover children as well as adults, and which allow people to be killed without giving consent.
The rapid increase in the euthanasia total mirrors the rate of euthanasia in neighbouring Holland, where mercy killing laws were brought in in 2002, a year before those in Belgium.
The figures provoked fresh warnings in Britain over the risks of any shift of the law here in the same direction.
Anti-euthanasia campaigner and former government adviser on terrorism Lord Carlile said: ‘I am shocked by these figures in Belgium. They show a poorly compliant ethical regime which ought to be examined.
‘There is a real danger that elderly vulnerable people in particular are having their rights violated.’
The newly-released figures show that, from less than 300 in 2003, the year the country’s euthanasia law was introduced, numbers of those who died by euthanasia in Belgium reached 2,021 last year.
The level was higher than 2,000 for the first time and more than double the 954 recorded in 2010.
The real total of euthanasia deaths may be higher still.
READ MORE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3434356/Euthanasia-cases-double-Belgium-just-five-years-2-000-people-used-country-s-right-die-law-past-12-months.html

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Legalising euthanasia and protecting the most vulnerable 'impossible'

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Stuff co.nz 2 February 2016
When I picture the woman who will be most affected by legalising euthanasia I don’t see an attractive 30 or 40-something mother with an unusual form of cancer, even though they seem to be the ones who get all the media coverage.
I see a little 90-year-old woman who’s lost all her teeth and shuffles from the rest home dining room to her bedside with the help of a walking frame, then is helped into her bed by a nurse.
Her family don’t visit. She’s lonely. She doesn’t have much money left. She feels selfish that she’s keeping it to pay for her last few years. She feels like she’s a burden, both on her family and the tax payer.
She might not have much pain, but she thinks there’s no place left in this world left for her. She feels like no-one cares and no-one really should. She’s no-one, got nothing left to contribute.
Right now we care for her. We recognise her right to life. We – you and I – help to pay for her. I do so happily because she built this country. She is not a burden to me.
But then we make it ok for a doctor to help her die. Suicide is no longer a big deal requiring a lot of effort and force of will. It’s easy. She’ll stop being a burden, stop being a waste of space, using up money that might go to someone younger or more deserving. She feels that, she knows it. She even reads it in the newspaper from time to time.
There is a lot of talk of death with dignity. What about life with dignity?
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/13810447/Legalising-euthanasia-and-protecting-the-most-vulnerable-impossible

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A doctor's view: 'I do not support legalising assisted dying'

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Stuff co.nz 1 February 2016
Dear Stuff community,
As a doctor, I do not support legalising assisted dying.
I recognise that people on both sides of this debate have compassion for people who are suffering and want to help them. The main difference in opinion is the way in which we think our society and government should go about that. We all value autonomy/choice, although I would add that it is not the only ethical principle at play. This issue is complex and multifaceted.
I also realise that this issue is a deeply personal one for many people. However, I do not believe the effects of a law which provides a mechanism for assisted suicide will only affect those who choose to use it.
I am speaking as a doctor who has cared for people with terminal illnesses and debilitating chronic illnesses both in general practice and the hospital setting. I have, at times, visited patients in their homes to provide symptom relief and other support as part of a palliative care service. Providing support for patients with end-stage cancer and other disease is a weekly if, not daily part of my job.
I am grateful to live in a time when great progress has been made in palliative care. From what I have seen and what I am told by others with more experience in palliative care, it is rare for people to die in physical pain or suffering from other unpleasant symptoms (such as nausea or breathlessness) as these can usually be controlled with medication. For those reading this who have watched a love one die where these things were not adequately addressed, I am sorry that you and your loved one went through that. Better access to doctors and nurses skilled in end of life care may have prevented this.
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/76441518/a-doctors-view-i-do-not-support-legalising-assisted-dying

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