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August 2016

Lecretia Seales inspires Geoffrey Palmer's proposed law change for assisted dying

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NZ Herald 29 August 2016
Former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer has come up with a proposed law change that would allow doctors in limited situations to help terminally ill patients to die.
It would require seven conditions to be met and would involve the Family Court as a means of verifying the conditions.
“My own view is that it is desirable to proceed with caution in this area and not to go further than the circumstances warrant.”
He set out his proposal at Parliament tonight in a lecture in memory of Lecretia Seales whose husband, Matt Vickers, launched a book “Lecretia’s Choice.”
Palmer once worked with former Tauranga woman Lecretia Seales who died of brain cancer last year. She took an unsuccessful case to the High Court in a bid to let her doctors to help her to die.
Palmer said his proposed law change was confined to the situation in which she found herself.
READ MORE: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11701624
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Most people 'change their mind' about wanting to end their life: palliative care doctor

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Stuff co.nz 24 August 2016
Family First Comment: Some superb comments from someone who knows!
People aren’t “crying out in pain from their deathbeds”, says a palliative care doctor against voluntary euthanasia.
Amanda Landers, chair of The Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, told MPs on the first day of a parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia that pain is “completely subjective”.
“Sixty per cent of New Zealanders have chronic pain … I had a hip operation recently and I have hip pain right now and I’m pretty sure my teenagers suffered during their teens for about five years.”
When questioned whether that was “unbearable pain” by National MP Jacqui Dean – Landers responded, “isn’t it?”
Landers submission against giving people the choice to die is borne out of her own experience dealing with about 5000 deaths in palliative care throughout her career.
“In my job I have a lot of people asking me about euthanasia. When they say that to me I say, you’re so brave but why do you want that?. We dig down … almost everybody changes their mind in my experience.”
She said those who didn’t change their mind about wanting to end their life shouldn’t be given the option.
Her comments were in direct contrast to those of Matt Vickers, husband of Lecretia Seales, who fought on her deathbed for the right to choose to die.
Vickers asked that the inquiry “have an open mind” and consult with experts overseas.
As for the submissions from organisations, such as Care Alliance and Family First, he said the “truth about end of life practices” wouldn’t be found there.
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/83492246/matt-vickers-calls-on-mps-to-have-open-mind-about-euthanasia

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Not a big deal, David Seymour? For disabled people the idea of assisted suicide couldn’t be bigger

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The SpinOff 24 August 2016
Family First Comment: “Dear (ACT MP) David Seymour… Disabled and other people who oppose assisted suicide are not religious fanatics. Not Dead Yet Aotearoa was founded on disability rights not religious convictions. Assisted suicide supporters attempting to diminish the opposition by ignoring some and making sweeping statements about others is not helpful.”
I assure David Seymour that assisted suicide is a really big and complicated deal. It is no coincidence that disabled people all over the world oppose it. Our opposition arises from a (largely invisible) dark and troubled history, negative attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people and current human rights abuses. Disabled people see assisted suicide as dangerous because of their already marginalised status. Some disabled people are particularly vulnerable.
Disabled and other people who oppose assisted suicide are not religious fanatics. Not Dead Yet Aotearoa was founded on disability rights not religious convictions. Assisted suicide supporters attempting to diminish the opposition by ignoring some and making sweeping statements about others is not helpful.
Part of our unease relates to evidence that lives of disabled people are valued less than those of others. There is a history of euthanasia and eugenics, which have gone hand in hand for disabled people. The most notable, yet largely unknown T4 programme initiated by the Nazi Third Reich was the forerunner to the better known holocaust of Jews, gays, gypsies and others who did not meet the Aryan ideal. Around half a million people with of all kinds of impairments were killed. Some were tortured with “experimentation” before death. The first child to be euthanised was killed at the request of his parents. They were labelled “useless eaters”. Many disabled people today still feel the residual power of that label as they struggle with cuts to services, parsimonious supports and subtle pressures to find work.
Even today those who murder their disabled family members, often vulnerable children, usually receive lesser sentences than other murderers. Their crimes may be labelled by the media and others as “mercy killings”.
Disabled people in the past were often discarded by society, “put away” in institutions popularly labelled “bins”, forgotten by society and history and eventually buried in unmarked graves. Today’s mini-institutions still harbour instances of violence and abuse, occasionally gaining media exposure. Disabled people, especially women, feel more vulnerable because they know they are more likely to experience violence and abuse and often feel powerless. Powerlessness and assisted suicide can be a dangerous combination.
READ MORE: http://thespinoff.co.nz/featured/24-08-2016/not-a-big-deal-david-seymour-for-disabled-people-the-idea-of-assisted-suicide-couldnt-be-bigger/

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The assisted suicide inquiry begins

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Lecretia Seales’ husband makes emotional appeal to MPs about voluntary euthanasia
NZ Herald 24 August 2016
Family First Comment: “The evidence shows that people who engage in palliative care early not only live better, they live longer. Do we want to be a country that cares, or not? For every person who is strong and capable who wants the choice, there are 100 people who will feel alone, lonely and a burden.”
The husband of Lecretia Seales has made an emotional appeal to MPs to reform the law on voluntary euthanasia – saying fear and religious opposition should not deny others a choice.
Matt Vickers has travelled from his new home in New York and presented to Parliament’s health committee this morning, in front of a large number of media and members of the public.
Dr Jack Havill, president of the society, encouraged committee members to visit overseas jurisdictions that had allowed assisted dying.
He said it was not right to confuse suicide and assisted dying, Havill said.
He directly asked National MP and committee chair Simon O’Connor to stop using the term assisted suicide.
Dr Amanda Landers, chair of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, said the assertion that palliative care does not work made no sense to her.
“Palliative care is not a pill…it is an approach. It’s someone asking you what is important to you, how you want your life to be now and to the end.”
Landers, a palliative care doctor and specialist, said she had personally seen the fear in people’s eyes fade as they come to terms with impending death. That could happen after long chats with palliative care staff, Landers said.
She acknowledged that some people “die terribly”. Medicine does not always know how to change approach and allow a natural death, Landers said.
“It’s about acknowledging that death is normal…allowing nature to take its course…fear of the unknown is what people grapple with…people worry for their spouses, their children, their friends.
“The evidence shows that people who engage in palliative care early not only live better, they live longer.
“Do we want to be a country that cares, or not? For every person who is strong and capable who wants the choice, there are 100 people who will feel alone, lonely and a burden.”
READ MORE: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11699765
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'Govt cowardly on euthanasia'? No – not yet.

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Lecretia Seales lives on in a health inquiry into euthanasia that kicks off this week
Stuff co.nz 20th August 2016
On Wednesday Vickers will be the first of 1800 people to speak to a parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia, instigated by a petition in the name of former Labour MP Maryan Street and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
The petition, which garnered 8795 signatures and cross-party support, came in the wake of Seales death.
It demanded the committee examine public opinion on the introduction of legislation “which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable”.
More than 21,000 submissions later – the most ever received by any select committee – Vickers will pull up a seat at 8am in front of a panel of MPs to explain Lecretia’s story.
But Amanda Landers, a clinician consultant, researcher and chair of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Care has spent 10 years caring for those who are terminally ill and she sees it differently.
“In the last decade I’ve witnessed about 5000 deaths and what you hear from the media and public isn’t what you hear from most people at the end of their life, it’s almost in direct contrast.”
“The voice of the well are the people who say, my body my choice,” she says.
When people are in their final weeks and days it’s their family, pets and community they worry about – “they think less and less about themselves”.
Landers says people talk about palliative care not working for everybody – that’s a concept she says doesn’t actually make any sense.
“It’s not a medicine that can work or not work, it’s an approach … most of the time just being there with them is what they need.”
Seales was cared and comforted for in her final days but as to whether she would have made the choice to end her life, Vickers says it wasn’t an option on the table.
“That’s a hypothetical that I can’t answer because she didn’t get that choice.”
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/83351363/Lecretia-Seales-lives-on-in-a-health-inquiry-into-euthanasia-that-kicks-off-this-week?cid=app-iPhone
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Politicians have swerved the hard questions on euthanasia for too long

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TVNZ One News 19 August 2016
Family First Comment: Rubbish! They haven’t avoided the question. They’re said no – and rightly so. #movingon
Taxes, politicians are happy to talk about. Death, not so much.
For years, MPs have avoided the euthanasia debate.

David Seymour’s assisted dying bill is stalled in the members’ bill ballot.
It’s at the whim of a lucky-dip system, which will see legislation about lost luggage debated ahead of life-and-death decisions.
So, now the national conversation is well overdue.
People can now delay death because of medical advances. But living longer often means a diminished quality of life.
READ MORE: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/opinion-politicians-have-swerved-hard-questions-euthanasia-too-long

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Legalizing Assisted Suicide Takes Away Mental Health Care for the Disabled

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LifeNews 10 August 2016
Family First Comment: “Many people don’t realize how making disability a legitimate condition for suicide jeopardizes the safety of all disabled Canadians…. This assisted-dying legislation takes away the mental health safety net for disabled Canadians.”
When I was born the doctors told my parents to put me in an institution. Luckily, my parents ignored the doctor’s advice and took me home.
Initially I went to a segregated school, and then argued my way into a regular school. I went on to complete an undergrad in Humanities and a Master’s in Family Therapy. I now have a successful career as a speaker. I’m married, I have two grown children, and I have a great life.
In the discussion about Canada’s assisted dying legislation, many people don’t realize how making disability a legitimate condition for suicide jeopardizes the safety of all disabled Canadians.
So let me try to explain.
What would happen if my wife died and I became depressed and suicidal?
Now if a non-disabled Canadian becomes suicidal, there is a commitment among psychiatrists and counselors to rekindle that person’s desire to live, and if necessary to protect that person from themselves.
However, as a disabled Canadian, if I become suicidal it is possible and even likely that the psychiatrist will see that as a rational and informed decision.
And that commitment to help me move through and beyond my suicidal state might now be seen as forcing me to live an unbearable life.
And so that psychiatrist may, in fact, help me die. That terrifies me.
As a disabled Canadian, I want the same commitment to suicide prevention that is afforded to non-disabled Canadians. This assisted-dying legislation takes away the mental health safety net for disabled Canadians.
http://www.lifenews.com/2016/08/10/legalizing-assisted-suicide-takes-away-mental-health-care-for-the-disabled/

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Submissions Say No To Assisted Suicide 3:1

By | Media Releases

euthanasia protect peopleMedia Release 12 Aug 2016
Family First NZ is welcoming an analysis of submissions made to the Inquiry on assisted suicide showing a 3:1 opposition to any change in the law, and is also calling on ACT MP David Seymour to withdraw his grandstanding bill so that the important conversation around end-of-life care can happen.

“It is ironic that ex-MP Maryan street implied that a record 22,000 responses to her petition meant that it is time to legalise euthanasia. In fact, the message is clearly the exact opposite. New Zealanders want a conversation – but they are opposed to assisted suicide as the solution,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“We’re calling on David Seymour to kill his pre-emptive strike on this issue, withdraw his private members bill, and support the Inquiry to its completion. The country needs to have a robust honest debate about assisted suicide without the emotion of a law change in the mix, and examine whether so-called ‘safeguards’ deserve that label, whether coercion is subtle but real, whether patients will ask themselves why they are not availing themselves of assisted suicide, and whether our already-excellent palliative care regime can be improved in any way.”

“There are mixed messages when society rightly wants to take a zero tolerance approach to suicide yet at the same time attempts to approve a person taking their life. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a strong argument against assisted suicide. Overseas experience proves that the risk of abuse cannot be eliminated. The risk of ‘suicide contagion’ associated with a media campaign around promoting euthanasia is also a real concern,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“David Seymour should pull the plug on his private member’s bill and allow the conversation to happen.”
ENDS

Hospices to get more palliative care staff

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TVNZ One News 4 August 2016
Family First Comment: A much better solution than assisted suicide.
Hospices are getting 60 new palliative care positions as part of a $76 million budget boost.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says hospices make a huge difference ensuring terminally ill people are as free from pain and suffering as possible.
“They also provide valuable care and support for family and friends,” he said today.

The $76 million was allocated in the 2015 budget, spread over four years.
Dr Coleman says an additional $52 million has been allocated to hospices to ensure sustainability.
https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/hospices-get-more-palliative-care-staff

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