Monthly Archives

May 2017

Euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to be defeated

By | Recent News

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 29 May 2017
Family First Comment: Great news.
In 2017 alone, assisted suicide bills have been stopped or defeated in Maine, Tasmania, Hawaii, Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Maryland while in several other states, assisted suicide bills were introduced but lacked support to even be debated.
#itsnotinevitable
#rejectassistedsuicide

Many media outlets are promoting the message that euthanasia and assisted suicide are being legalized everywhere and yet the reality proves that the opposite is true.

On Tuesday May 23 the Maine House defeated assisted suicide bill L.D. 347 in a bipartisan 85-61 vote and on Wednesday May 24 the Tasmanian parliament defeated euthanasia bill (Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill) by a vote of 16-8.

  • The Maine Press Herald reported that:
    The bipartisan 85-61 vote against the bill followed lengthy and oftentimes emotional debate among lawmakers sharing personal stories of watching loved ones battle terminal diseases. The so-called “death with dignity” bill had passed the Maine Senate by a single vote last week but faced a potential veto from Gov. Paul LePage
    even if it had passed the House.

“My conscience tells me that this is the wrong direction for a variety of reasons,” said Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner. “This is not a partisan issue. It is a human issue.”

“We all agree it is a matter of life and death and if we cannot strip away the euphemistic language and discuss the reality of the matter then it will not be an honest debate and the public interest would not be served.

“I ask those promoting this bill to be truly frank and honest in their descriptions, and for those listening to the debate today, if or when you hear those euphemisms, you need to remind yourself that the real words, however distasteful they are, are mercy killing and assisted suicide by a doctor.”

Many people will say, but Alex, that is only two jurisdictions. The fact is that in 2017 assisted suicide bills have been stopped or defeated in Hawaii, Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Maryland while in several other states, assisted suicide bills were introduced but lacked support to even be debated.

It’s not pain but ‘existential distress’ that leads people to assisted suicide, study suggests

By | Recent News

The Washington Post 26 May 2017
Family First Comment: Interesting findings – and debunks claims that euthanasia is required because of physical pain..
“Their quality of life is not what they want. They are mostly educated and affluent — people who are used to being successful and in control of their lives, and it’s how they want their death to be.”
And
“These patients considered a hastened death over prolonged periods of time and repeatedly assessed the benefits and burdens of living versus dying… Lack of access to health care and lack of palliative care also were not mentioned as issues of concern.”
But a study released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the answers may be surprising: The reasons patients gave for wanting to end their lives had more to do with psychological suffering than physical suffering.
The study, based on information from Canada’s University Health Network in Toronto, represents all 74 people who inquired about assistance in dying from March 2016 to March 2017. Most were white and were diagnosed with cancer or a neurological disorder like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying law, or MAiD, allows for adults with serious and incurable diseases in an advanced state to seek help. At the University Health Network, which operates four large hospitals, patients must go through several levels of evaluations, and if they meet the criteria, they can come to the hospital to receive a lethal medication intravenously.
For many people, death from a terminal illness may be synonymous with pain. Much of the discussion about assisted suicide focuses on compassionate palliative care for cancer patients and about suffering that can’t be controlled by even the strongest opioids. But that’s not what the people in the new study report.
“It’s what I call existential distress,” explained researcher Madeline Li, an associate professor at University of Toronto. “Their quality of life is not what they want. They are mostly educated and affluent — people who are used to being successful and in control of their lives, and it’s how they want their death to be.”
“It has been very surprising to me,” Li said in an interview.
One of the main things these patients bring up has to do with “autonomy.” It’s a broad philosophical concept that has to do with being able to make your own decisions, not being dependent on others, wanting to be able to enjoy the things you enjoy and wanting dignity.
One patient was a marathon runner before her cancer left her confined to bed. “That was not how she saw her identity,” Li said. Another patient, a university professor, identified his intellect as the most important quality that he values in himself: “He had a brain tumor, and he didn’t want to get to the point of losing control of his own mind, couldn’t think clearly and couldn’t be present.”
The study also provides information regarding one of the most controversial aspects of physician-assisted suicide: That it could be forced on the poor, uninsured or those worried about being a burden to their loved ones. In Canada, a requirement for being considered for MAiD is being under the national health insurance program, and most of the patients were financially well-off.
A study published in 2015 based on interviews with 159 patients or family members of deceased patients in Oregon — which allowed physicians to give prescriptions for self-administered lethal medications in 1997 — found similarly complex psychological motivations for decisions.
“These patients considered a hastened death over prolonged periods of time and repeatedly assessed the benefits and burdens of living versus dying,” researchers wrote in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. “None of the participants cited responding to bad news, such as the diagnosis of cancer, or a depressed mood as motivations for interest in hastened death. Lack of access to health care and lack of palliative care also were not mentioned as issues of concern.”
Likewise a study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1999 about the first year of the Oregon law noted: “Many physicians reported that their patients had been decisive and independent throughout their lives or that the decision to request a lethal prescription was consistent with a long-standing belief about the importance of controlling the manner in which they died.”
READ MORE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/24/its-not-pain-but-existential-distress-that-leads-people-to-assisted-suicide-study-suggests/?utm_term=.7d43595fbbb3

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

Tasmania votes down voluntary euthanasia bill for third time in 10 years

By | Recent News

ABC News 25 May 2017
Family First Comment: Another knock-back. In the words of the Premier…
“I am concerned about the nature of assisted dying being available to those with a non-terminal illness and those of a young age. I remain concerned at the risk of those vulnerable. Protection for these people cannot be guaranteed by this legislation. It is easy in theory but a lot less so in practice.”
#rejectassistedsuicide

For the third time in 10 years, Tasmania’s Lower House has voted down voluntary euthanasia legislation that would have allowed people to end their own lives in certain medical circumstances.

MPs were allowed a conscience vote on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, with eight voting for, and 16 voting against the bill.
It had been co-sponsored by Labor MP Lara Giddings and Greens leader Cassy O’Connor.
Cassy O’Connor said the bill had been designed around compassion and keeping the status quo was “cruel.”
She lauded Franklin Liberal Nic Street for being “the first Tasmanian Liberal MP ever to vote in support of assisted dying legislation.”
She was disappointed that despite polling consistently indicating 80-85 per cent public support, Tasmanian MPs voted against the reform.
Ms O’Connor vowed to bring the bill back.
“Because every day we delay on this issue, we abandon people who are in the most terrible situation and suffering,” she said.
Ms Giddings told ABC Radio Hobart no-one from the Government contacted her with their concerns.
“They also had the bill since November of last year, none of them picked up the phone to say ‘hey Lara we’ve got a concern with this element of it, can we go to a committee on it rather than debate it straight away?’
“None of them said it in November last year.”

Not the end of the discussion: Premier

Premier Will Hodgman said he remained concerned about the vulnerable and suggested it was not the end of the debate.
“It is a very confronting and challenging issue. I have no fear in saying that I am personally very confronted by it and heavily conflicted,” he said.
“I am concerned about the nature of assisted dying being available to those with a non-terminal illness and those of a young age. I remain concerned at the risk of those vulnerable.
“Protection for these people cannot be guaranteed by this legislation. It is easy in theory but a lot less so in practice.”
He pledged to continue to part of community debate.
READ MORE: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-24/tasmania-votes-down-euthanasia-bill/8555882

facebook_icon

Do suicides increase where euthanasia is legal?

By | Recent News

MercatorNet 22 May 2017
Dutch Professor Dr Theo Boer, a former member of one of Holland’s five Euthanasia Regional Review Committees (2005-2014) has undertaken a study which will be published shortly which, in his words, shows
the assumption that euthanasia will lead to lower suicide rates finds no support in the numbers. The percentage of euthanasia deaths of the total mortality rate tripled from 1.3% in 2002 to 4.08% in 2016. During that same period, the suicide numbers did not go down: From being 1,567 in 2002, they went up to 1,871 in 2015, a rise of 19.4%. The suicide rates reached a relative low of 1,353 in 2007, compared to which the 2015 numbers constitute a rise of 38.3%. This is even more significant given the fact that from 2007 on euthanasia started becoming available to people with chronic diseases – psychiatric diseases, dementia, and others. In terms of the percentage of the overall mortality of suicide deaths, the numbers went up from 1.01% in 2007 to 1.27% in 2015.
…For the sake of comparison, I have looked at the suicide rates of some countries which are close to the Netherlands in terms of ethnicity, age, religion, and language but which, with the exception of Belgium, lack the option of euthanasia. If the suicide numbers in the Netherlands have gone up, one would expect, at least a similar increase in the suicide numbers would occur in countries without the option of euthanasia. However,…the Netherlands of all countries show the biggest increase in the suicide numbers.”
READ MORE: https://www.mercatornet.com/careful/view/do-suicides-increase-where-euthanasia-is-legal/19833

facebook_icon

STRONG OPPOSITION TO LEGALISING EUTHANASIA, SAYS STUDY

By | Recent News

A trial is to be held for Lower Hutt woman Susan Austen, charged with aiding a suicide
Stuff co.nz 12 May 2017
Family First Comment: The people have spoken! 👍
Parliament’s health select committee received 21,277 submissions as it considered the End of Life Choice bill – the most made on any proposed piece of legislation.
The majority oppose the legalisation of euthanasia, according to an analysis of the submissions by the Care Alliance, an umbrella group opposed to law change, which includes Family First, Euthanasia Free NZ, Hospice NZ and Not Dead Yet Aotearoa.
Its research concluded that 16,411 of the submissions opposed legalisation, while 4142 supported it.
Care Alliance secretary Matthew Jansen said the submissions reflected the depth and breadth of public attitudes about euthanasia.
He said the pro-euthanasia lobby had been actively trying to cast doubt on the submissions.
“We thought that was disrespectful to the thousands of New Zealanders who took the time and effort to share their views with Parliament, for and against. So we set to work to find out the facts.”
Volunteers read every submission to record views on legalising euthanasia, the length of the submission, and whether or not religious arguments were used by the submitter.
A random sample from the full analysis was checked by independent research company Curia, headed by pro-euthanasia pollster David Farrar, Jansen said.
“The select committee has been provided with incredible testimony. We trust that they will hear that there is much more that needs to be done to improve mental health, disability and end-of-life services in New Zealand, but that the overwhelming majority of submitters say that euthanasia is not a solution.”
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/92501870/a-trial-is-to-be-held-for-a-woman-charged-with-aiding-a-suicide
twitter follow us

Lower Hutt woman pleads not guilty to assisting suicide

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 12 May 2017
The Lower Hutt woman accused of helping a woman commit suicide has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Susan Dale Austen, 66, appeared in the Wellington District Court this morning to enter not guilty pleas to the charge of assisting suicide, as well as a charge of importing the drug pentobarbitone, commonly used for euthanasia.
She has elected a trial by jury.
The former charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, says Austen aided another woman to commit suicide sometime between December 21, 2015 and June 7, 2016.
Austen, a teacher, is a member of Exit Wellington, a pro-euthanasia group.
Family First has commented on the case.
“The police are absolutely correct to be investigating, shutting down and prosecuting the promotion of suicide in New Zealand,” said director Bob McCoskrie.
READ MORE: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11854533

facebook_icon

Promotion & Enabling of Suicide Always A Crime

By | Media Releases

Media Release 12 May 2017
Family First NZ says that it is disturbing that a group is campaigning for a woman charged with importing a drug linked to euthanasia and charged with assisting suicide.

“The police are absolutely correct to be investigating, shutting down and prosecuting the promotion of suicide in New Zealand, and especially the operations of Philip Nitschke. Nitschke promotes suicide, has left a trail of destruction, and is evidence of just how far some euthanasia advocates will take an assisted suicide law if it was ever introduced. Just last week, Nitschke was exposed for selling suicide kits disguised as equipment for home-brewing beer. No controls. Just a credit card required. Vulnerable people are being exploited by his agenda and the police need to protect NZ’ers from him and groups associated with him,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The Medical Board of Australia has imposed 25 strict conditions on Nitschke who they rightly believepresents a serious risk to public health and safety”. In 2014 Nitschke 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 2015 Victorian state government inquiry into end-of-life choices found that young and physically healthy people were killing themselves using a drug recommended by euthanasia groups – the same drug being recommended in NZ. The majority of those suicides were young people who were physically healthy, but mentally ill.

A Wellington woman ended her life with Nembutal in 2008, after receiving advice on how to obtain it from Dr Nitschke. She was a life-member of EXIT and was suffering from depression, but was physically fit and not suffering a terminal illness.  

“Nitschke defends the right of someone to take their own life, even when fit and healthy. New Zealanders reject this destructive message and the police are right to be prosecuting and investigating groups in order to remove this risk to vulnerable NZ’ers,” says Mr McCoskrie.
ENDS

Zachary D. Schmoll: Physician-Assisted Suicide Tells People Like Me That Our Lives Are No Longer Worth Living

By | Recent News

Public Discourse 8 May 2017
Family First Comment: “By legalizing physician-assisted suicide, our political leaders are saying that if they ever have to live life like mine, they want the opportunity to end it all. They want the ability to “die with dignity.” This raises serious questions as to how they perceive my life. Am I not living with dignity because I lack some physical independence?”
#rejectassistedsuicide
The legalization of physician-assisted suicide sends the message that it is better to be dead than disabled. Do I lack dignity because I lack physical independence?
As a man with a physical disability, I need a lot of help to perform many basic daily activities. I still consider myself to be an independent thinker, but my physical independence is substantially limited by my severely reduced muscle strength. I need help to drive my van, get dressed, prepare my meals, and complete other daily tasks. For me, this is life. For many others, this level of dependence is motivation to consider bringing life to an end.
In a 2005 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, out of thirty-five individual cases of people who were seriously considering physician-assisted suicide, twenty-three of the patients were motivated to pursue a hastened death because of a loss of bodily function. Twenty-two of these patients were motivated by a loss of sense of self, while twenty-one of them expressed fears about future quality of life and dying. To put this number in context, only fourteen of them were motivated to end their lives because of pain or the side effects of pain medications. Instead, each of the most highly cited reasons for pursuing physician-assisted suicide are related to issues of dependence and independence. Our society tells us that autonomy is what makes life worth living. Once these patients began to lose bodily function, they were told that they were also losing their identity and quality of life.
Personally, as an individual with a disability, I believe that I have a very high quality of life. I have a job I enjoy, I have friends I like to see, I have a sport I like to play, and I am pursuing a doctoral degree. I have a full life, and I enjoy what I am doing. Consequently, it is not surprising at all that I have a high quality of life even though I do have less independence than most other people. I am doing what I enjoy, and I am thankful for that.
Plenty of other people in my situation, however, would not enjoy their lives. Even if they could, for instance, play power wheelchair soccer, as I do, they might not enjoy it. Instead of being thankful for the ability to play a sport, they might only be able to see what they cannot do, focusing on how it is different from the soccer they could play as an able-bodied person. Obviously, quality of life is going to be impacted by one’s perception of his or her own situation. Because I have a desire to enjoy my life, I would not consider physician-assisted suicide. Yet many, like those in the study above, are susceptible to this fatal choice because they feel that life is no longer worth living. These people naturally believe that their life is of a lower quality because they have lost their independence.
Which perspective should our society try to reinforce?
Better Dead Than Disabled
Legally, the government has two choices. Laws that prohibit physician-assisted suicide encourage a worldview that says there is value to life and it ought not to be thrown away based on an individual’s subjective perception of his or her situation. Such laws teach us that our lives are objectively valuable, even if we do not recognize our own value. And they teach everyone else to help us in finding value and enjoyment in our lives.
But by legalizing physician-assisted suicide, we make a different statement. Such laws communicate the idea that suicide can be a reasonable, moral, and socially acceptable choice, because some lives are no longer valuable. Suicide is prohibited in all other circumstances, sending the message that most lives have value that ought to be protected by law, even when the person in question does not see that value. In certain circumstances, however—specifically, when an individual is losing his or her own independence—such protections need not apply. Society is affirming, by legalizing physician-assisted suicide, that it is better to be dead than disabled. It is better to be in the grave than to live with reduced independence. This message is sent both to people with disabilities like me and everyone else who interacts with us.
Naturally, this is a terrifying step for people like me. By legalizing physician-assisted suicide, our political leaders are saying that if they ever have to live life like mine, they want the opportunity to end it all. They want the ability to “die with dignity.” This raises serious questions as to how they perceive my life. Am I not living with dignity because I lack some physical independence? Is there an inevitable link between dignity and physical strength? Advocates of physician-assisted suicide seem to think so.
READ MORE: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2017/05/19163/?utm_source=The+Witherspoon+Institute&utm_campaign=9db6b266f0-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_15ce6af37b-9db6b266f0-84094405

facebook_icon

Dr Death sells 'home brew' suicide kits

By | Recent News

Euthanasia campaigner ‘Dr Death’ sells ‘home brew’ suicide kits disguised as equipment for making beer 
Daily Mail 7 May 2017
Family First Comment: Disturbing. Promoting suicide. All at a time when we are doing everything possible (and urgently!) to REDUCE suicide rates.
#rejectassistedsuicide
A euthanasia campaigner nicknamed Dr Death is selling suicide kits disguised as equipment for home-brewing beer.
Dr Philip Nitschke, who calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide, sells the £257 kit on his brewing company’s website.
It can be used for brewing beer but Dr Nitschke has written a guidebook, also available online, that explains how people can use it to take their own lives.
Last night, anti-assisted suicide group Care Not Killing described the sale of the kits as ‘utterly deplorable’, and spokesman Alistair Thompson called for the police to investigate Dr Nitschke.
‘It’s deeply worrying because one suspects there will be no formal controls over who this kit is being sold to apart from the limit of needing a credit card to purchase it online,’ he said.
‘So this could be going to very vulnerable adults, some of them still teenagers, who are depressed for whatever reason and see this as a way of ending their lives.’
READ MORE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4480926/Dr-Death-sells-home-brew-suicide-kits.html
twitter follow us

Health Select Committee: 77% of Submissions Oppose Euthanasia

By | Recent News

Media Release Care Alliance 5 May 2017
Analysis of 21,277 submissions to the Health Select Committee’s investigation into end of life issues shows that 16,411 opposed the legalisation of euthanasia, while 4,142 supported legalisation.
Releasing the analysis today Matthew Jansen, Secretary of the Care Alliance, said “the submissions reflect the depth and breadth of public attitudes about euthanasia.  We believe it is the largest number of submissions ever received by a Select Committee and, critically, they were unique rather than ‘postcard’ or ‘form’ submissions.”
“We became aware last year that pro-euthanasia advocates were spreading a message that opposing submissions did not meet their standards for length, uniqueness or the use of religious arguments. We thought that was disrespectful to the thousands of New Zealanders who took the time and effort to share their views with Parliament, for and against. So we set to work to find out the facts.”
Care Alliance volunteers read every submission to record views on legalising euthanasia, the length of the submission, and whether or not religious arguments were used by the submitter.  This work was completed in April, and a random sample from the full analysis was checked by an independent research company. It concluded that “we can say with at least 95% confidence that the overall classification percentages are accurate within no more than 0.4% variation.”
The Health Select Committee investigation began in response to a petition presented to Parliament in June 2015.
“Quite simply, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society were able to get 8,975 signatures on a petition, but could muster less than half that number in actual submissions,” said Mr Jansen.  “By contrast, 16,411 people took the opportunity to say no to euthanasia.”
Opposition to euthanasia was dominant across all submission lengths. For example, of the submissions longer than one page, 1,510 submissions opposed euthanasia while 523 supported its legalisation.
Mr Jansen added that “While the Care Alliance never argues this issue from a faith perspective, we respect the right of any New Zealander to do so, for or against, if they wish.  That is a real and existing right protected by the Bill of Rights Act. In the event, more than 82 percent of submissions opposed to euthanasia contained no reference to religious arguments.”
Mr Jansen said that many of the submissions, for and against, contained deeply moving personal stories regarding illness, dying and suicide. “The Select Committee has been provided with incredible testimony. We trust that they will hear that there is much more that needs to be done to improve mental health, disability and end of life services in New Zealand, but that the overwhelming majority of submitters say that euthanasia is not a solution.”
ENDS

Analysis of written submissions to Health Select Committee’s investigation into ending one’s life.

Background and methodology

Written submissions to the Select Committee closed on 1 February 2016. They were progressively uploaded to the Parliamentary Select
Committee (Submissions and Advice) website until 17 August 2016 when it appeared that all the submissions had been posted.

On 9 September 2016 a master list of these 21,514 submissions was created from the public website, including links to individual submissions.
Duplicate submissions were then removed. It was also found that a small number of submissions could not be coded (broken links, parts of
submissions missed during scanning, etc).

The final number of public submissions analysed here is 21,277.

The Care Alliance organised a small team of volunteers to read through each submission, and code for three characteristics.

1. Attitude to legalisation of euthanasia/assisted suicide.

Support | neutral or unclear | oppose

2. Length of submission.

1 or 2 sentences | paragraph | up to a page | more than a page

3. Reference to religious arguments.

None | some | mainly

An independent research company reviewed the coding of 500 submissions and concluded: “Having found no errors in the sample of 500, we
can say with at least 95% confidence that the overall classification percentages are accurate within no more than 0.4% variation.”
Care Alliance
http://euthanasiadebate.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/infographic.pdf