Monthly Archives

June 2017

Insurance companies abusing assisted suicide laws (US)

By | Recent News

Washington Times 7 June 2017
Family First Comment: A disturbing read from Tammy Bruce (who I have interviewed previously)
“With the passage of assisted-suicide laws, there are new reports that health insurance companies are refusing to cover lifesaving medical care and are offering to pay patients to kill themselves instead. It is, after all, cheaper…”
As we remain inundated with the news and chaos of terrorist attacks, a life-and-death struggle is emerging here at home, manifesting some of the same threats to Western values, and even to the core understanding of civilization itself and its value of life. With the passage of assisted-suicide laws, there are new reports that health insurance companies are refusing to cover lifesaving medical care and are offering to pay patients to kill themselves instead. It is, after all, cheaper. The debate surrounding legalizing assisted suicide is largely cast as one focusing on an individual who genuinely wants to end his or her life because of the pain and suffering they’re experiencing due to a terminal medical condition. But this issue is wholly different — the possible cold-blooded and brutal abuse of those laws by bureaucrats in insurance companies against patients whom they determine are too expensive to keep alive.
Last October, this newspaper reported the story of a terminally ill woman in California whose insurance company, she alleges, refused to cover more chemotherapy treatments once the state passed its End of Life Option Act, “which authorizes physicians to diagnose a life-ending dose of medication to patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. “[Stephanie] Packer said her doctors have appealed the insurance company’s decision twice, to no avail. She said the assisted-suicide law creates an incentive for insurance companies to deny terminally ill patients coverage. ‘As soon as this law was passed — and you see it everywhere when these laws are passed — patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this will always be the cheapest option,’ she said,” The Washington Times reported.
….And then there are the doctors. Healers who pledge to do no harm are now facing a system that will eventually expect them to do just that. In fact, according to Dr. Brian Callister, it’s happening now. He was shocked when two different insurance companies refused lifesaving treatment for his patients and suggested he help them kill themselves instead. Dr. Callister, a doctor in Nevada, “tried to transfer two patients to California and Oregon for procedures not performed at his hospital. Representatives from two different insurance companies denied those transfer requests by phone, he said. ‘And in both cases, the insurance medical director said to me, ‘Brian, we’re not going to cover that procedure or the transfer, but would you consider assisted suicide?’ ” he told The Times. Moreover, his patients were not terminal, but would become so without the treatment he sought for them.
….Yet in 2008, when Oregon had the only assisted-suicide law in the country, 64-year-old Barbara Wagner’s lung cancer returned and her doctor prescribed a $4,000-a-month medication to keep her alive. But it was not to be. Her insurance company sent her an unsigned treatment rejection letter, along with the suggestion she consider assisted suicide. In 2008, Ms. Wagner told ABCNews.com, “It was horrible. I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor, and we will stand there and watch you die. But we won’t give you the medication to live.”
READ MORE: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/7/assisted-suicide-laws-can-be-abused/

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Elderly most often abused by family

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NewsTalk ZB 13 June 2017
Family First Comment: And euthanasia would only exacerbate this problem!
www.rejectassistedsuicide.org.nz
It is family members inflicting abuse on vulnerable elderly Kiwis in more than three quarters of cases, a support group says.
With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day occurring June 15, Age Concern is using the statistic to remind members of the public to speak up if they suspect an older person is being abused.
“This is one of the reasons it stays hidden. Many older people feel ashamed their own flesh and blood are treating them badly, so they won’t talk about it,” Age Concern New Zealand chief executive Stephanie Clare said.
The day is part of a wider Elder Abuse Awareness Week from June 15-22 and comes as Age Concern with 23 centres around the country had 2121 referrals of suspected abuse reported to it, between July 2015 and June 2016.
It intervened in almost 1700 cases.
READ MORE: http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/elderly-most-often-abused-by-family/
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Belgian euthanasia promoter misleads New Zealand audience about euthanasia practice in Belgium.

By | Recent News

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 29 May 2017
Family First Comment: Disturbing.
“Bernheim is a long-time euthanasia promoter who will willingly hide the facts at the altar of death.”
www.rejectassistedsuicide.org.nz
In November 2013, I debated Dr. Jan Bernheim in Brussels, Belgium concerning the practice of euthanasia.
During the debate I explained that data from studies proved that in the Flanders region of Belgium (2007) 32% of the assisted deaths were done without explicit request, assisted deaths were being done by nurses (the law limits the act to physicians) and 47% of the assisted deaths were not reported.
The research indicated that assisted deaths, that are done “outside of the law” share a high co-relation with the demographic group of people who are over the age of 80, who are incompetent to make decisions, who usually die in a hospital and usually have an unpredictable end-of-life trajectory, representing a vulnerable patient group at risk of having euthanasia imposed upon them.
Since then recent Belgian studies concerning the practice assisted death in the Flanders region of Belgium (2013) found that 1.7% of all deaths, (more than 1000 deaths) were hastened without explicit request, and more than 40% of the assisted deaths were not reported. The practice of clandestine euthanasia was not improving in Belgium.
Bernheim is fully aware that there is significant abuse of the Belgian euthanasia law. After being challenged at the 2013 debate, Bernheim stated that “there are problems with the Belgian euthanasia law.”
Whereas Bernheim is misleading his audience when he states that in Belgium they have put an end to the clandestine practice when the studies actually prove that the opposite is true. Bernheim also misled the public on his tour of Québec a few years ago.
Meanwhile the number of euthanasia deaths are increasing every year in Belgium with the practice of euthanasia extending to greater numbers of conditions and even to children.
Bernheim is a long-time euthanasia promoter who will willingly hide the facts at the altar of death.
READ MORE: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.co.nz/2017/05/belgian-euthanasia-promoter-misleads.html?utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-6b0ee1fe00-157147645&utm_content=buffer65707&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer&m=1

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New Study: How Fear Drives People to Choose Death

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CBN News 10 June 2017
Family First Comment: Polls that support euthanasia are based on ‘intolerable pain’ but as this research – one of many – shows, that’s not the motivating factor for wanting assisted suicide…
“Those who received (assisted suicide) tended to be white and relatively affluent and indicated that loss of autonomy was the primary reason for their request,” the report states. “Other common reasons included the wish to avoid burdening others or losing dignity and the intolerability of not being able to enjoy one’s life. Few patients cited inadequate control of pain or other symptoms.”
www.rejectassistedsuicide.org.nz
Patients who choose euthanasia are most often motivated by the fear of losing control or being a burden to others, not pain, according to a new study.
The Toronto-based study published in the New England Journal of Medicine comes after Canada legalized euthanasia last summer. Since then, hundreds have reportedly opted for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).
The study analyzed patients from four hospitals participating in MAID and concluded fear of losing control is a leading factor when people want to die.
“Those who received MAID tended to be white and relatively affluent and indicated that loss of autonomy was the primary reason for their request,” the report states. “Other common reasons included the wish to avoid burdening others or losing dignity and the intolerability of not being able to enjoy one’s life. Few patients cited inadequate control of pain or other symptoms.”
Researcher Madeline Li told The Washington Post that the results of the study shocked her.
“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,” Li said. She used the example of a patient who was once a marathon runner before being bedridden from cancer. “That was not how she saw her identity,” Li said.
READ MORE: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/health/2017/june/how-fear-drives-people-to-choose-death
It’s not pain but ‘existential distress’ that leads people to assisted suicide, study suggests
Washington Post 26 May 2017
A few decades ago, doctor-assisted suicide was considered a fringe idea despite surveys showing many physicians supported the idea under certain circumstances. The face of euthanasia at that time was Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan pathologist nicknamed “Dr. Death.” By his own admission, he helped 130 people end their lives. He was convicted of homicide and served eight years in prison.
While doctor-assisted suicide remains a polarizing issue, some countries and states have begun to accept it. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland have legalized voluntary euthanasia. In 2016, Canada legalized “medically assisted death.” Australia, France, South Africa and the United Kingdom are considering similar measures.
In the United States in 2014, the story of Brittany Maynard — a 29-year-old California woman with a brain tumor who wanted to end her life but had to travel to Oregon to do so — led to an outpouring of support and sympathy on social media. Six states, including California, now allow some form of medical aid in dying.
Allowing assisted dying to come into the open has helped us gain insights about one of the most fundamental questions of our existence: Where do humans draw the line between choosing life and choosing death?
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.
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=.4a1e5b3dea2a
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Claim Of ‘Religious’ Opposition To Euthanasia Debunked

By | Media Releases

Media Release 10 June 2017
Family First NZ says that a full analysis of submissions made to the Inquiry on assisted suicide by the Care Alliance shows 77% opposition to any change in the law, but also conclusively rebuts the claims made by ACT MP David Seymour and other supporters of assisted suicide that opposition to euthanasia is driven by ‘religious’ people only.

13,539 (82%) of the 16,411 submissions opposed to euthanasia contained no reference to religious arguments, while 1,535 used some, and just 1,337 relied mainly on religious arguments. Ironically, 208 submissions referred to religious reasoning in supporting euthanasia.

“David Seymour is quick to demand the removal of blasphemy laws, but perhaps his real focus should be on getting his own facts straight and examining the real reasons for widespread opposition to assisted suicide,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This includes the disability sector, senior citizens, human rights advocates, and concerns that poor people who don’t have access to better healthcare could feel pressured to end their lives.”

“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.”

“David Seymour should pull the plug on his private member’s bill so that the important conversation around end-of-life care can happen.”
ENDS

Euthanasia: How will your MP vote (according to NZ Herald)

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 9 June 2017
Family First Comment: Tell your MP to OPPOSE assisted suicide. Go to www.haveyoursay.org.nz to find the email details. Remind them that THEIR vote will determine YOUR vote!
How will they vote?
National (58)
YES (9)

Todd Barclay, Clutha-Southland – Yes
Chris Bishop, list – Yes
Matt Doocey, Waimakariri – Yes
Paul Foster-Bell, list – Yes
Brett Hudson, list – Yes
Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central – Yes
Hekia Parata, list – Yes
Jami-Lee Ross, Botany – Yes
Maurice Williamson, Pakuranga – Yes

NO (14)

Maggie Barry, North Shore – No
Chester Borrows, Whanganui – No
Gerry Brownlee, Ilam – No
Sarah Dowie, Invercargill – No
Bill English, list – No
Chris Finlayson, list – No
Todd Muller, Bay of Plenty – No
Jono Naylor, list – No
Simon O’Connor, Tamaki – No
Maureen Pugh, list – No
Shane Reti, Whangarei – No
Alastair Scott, Wairarapa – No
Michael Woodhouse List – No
Jonathan Young, New Plymouth – No

PROBABLY NO (8)

Simon Bridges, Tauranga – Probably No
Jonathan Coleman, Northcote – Probably No
Paul Goldsmith, list – Probably No
Steven Joyce, list – Probably No
Tutehounuku (Nuk) Korako – Probably No
Tim Macindoe, Hamilton West – Probably No
Ian McKelvie, Rangitikei – Probably No
Nick Smith, Nelson – Probably No

UNDECIDED (17)

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, list – Undecided
David Bennett, Hamilton East – Undecided
Paula Bennett, Upper Harbour – Undecided
David Carter, list – Undecided
Jacqui Dean, Waitaki – Undecided
Jo Goodhew, Rangitata – Undecided
Barbara Kuriger, Taranaki-King Country – Undecided
Melissa Lee, List – Undecided
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Maungakiekie – Undecided
Todd McClay, Rotorua – Undecided
Mark Mitchell, Rodney – Undecided
Scott Simpson, Coromandel – Undecided
Stuart Smith, Kaikoura – Undecided
Anne Tolley, East Coast – Undecided
Louise Upston, Taupo – Undecided
Nicky Wagner, Christchurch Central – Undecided
Jian Yang, list – Undecided

NO RESPONSE (9)

Amy Adams, Selwyn – No response
Andrew Bayly, Hunua – No response
Judith Collins, Papakura – No response
Craig Foss, Tukituki – No response
Nathan Guy, Otaki – No response
Joanne Hayes, list – No response
Murray McCully, East Coast Bays – No response
Parmjeet Parmar, list – No response
Lindsay Tisch, Waikato – No response

WON’T SAY (1)

Alfred Ngaro, list – Won’t Say

Labour (31)
YES (13)

Jacinda Ardern, Mt Albert – Yes
Clare Curran, Dunedin South – Yes
Kelvin Davis, Te Tai Tokerau – Yes
Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Yes
Kris Faafoi, Mana – Yes
Iain Lees-Galloway, Palmerston North – Yes
Trevor Mallard, Hutt South – Yes
Sue Moroney, list – Yes
Stuart Nash, Napier – Yes
Grant Robertson, Wellington Central – Yes
Adrian Rurawhe, Te Tai Hauauru – Yes
Louisa Wall, Manurewa – Yes
Megan Woods, Wigram – Yes

PROBABLY YES (4)

Raymond Huo, list – Probably Yes
Andrew Little, list – Probably yes
Poto Williams, Christchurch East – Probably Yes
Michael Wood, Mt Roskill – Probably Yes

NO (2)

Clayton Cosgrove, list – No
Meka Whaitiri, Ikaroa Rawhiti – No

PROBABLY NO (2)

David Clark, Dunedin North – Probably No
Rino Tirikatene, Te Tai Tonga – Probably No

UNDECIDED (4)

Peeni Henare, Tamaki Makaurau – Undecided
Damien O’Connor, West Coast – Undecided
David Parker, list – Undecided
William Sio, Mangere – Undecided

NO RESPONSE (6)

Chris Hipkins, Rimutaka – No response
Annette King, Rongotai – No response
Nanaia Mahuta, Hauraki-Waikato – No response
Carmel Sepuloni, Kelston – No response
Jenny Salesa, Manukau East – No response
Phil Twyford, Te Atatu – No response

Green (14)
YES (1)

David Clendon, list – Yes

PROBABLY YES (5)

Steffan Browning, list – Probably Yes
Barry Coates, list – Probably Yes
Julie Anne Genter, list – Probably Yes
Gareth Hughes, list – Probably Yes
Metiria Turei, list – Probably Yes

UNDECIDED (6)

Catherine Delahunty, list – Undecided
Jan Logie, list – Undecided
Mojo Mathers, list – Undecided
Denise Roche, list – Undecided
Eugenie Sage, list – Undecided
James Shaw, list – Undecided

NO RESPONSE (2)

Marama Davidson, list – No response
Kennedy Graham, list – No response

NZ First (12)

Darroch Ball, list – Undecided
Mahesh Bindra, list – Undecided
Ria Bond, list – Undecided
Ron Mark, list – Undecided
Tracey Martin, list – Undecided
Clayton Mitchell, list – Undecided
Denis O’Rourke, list – Undecided
Pita Paraone, list – Undecided
Winston Peters, Northland – Undecided
Richard Prosser, list – Undecided
Barbara Stewart, list – Undecided
Fletcher Tabuteau, list -Undecided

Maori Party (2)

Te Ururoa Flavell, Waiariki – No
Marama Fox, list – No

United Future (1)

Peter Dunne, Ohariu – Won’t Say.

Act Party (1)

David Seymour, Epsom – Yes
READ MORE: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11873188

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For ACT, euthanasia is a free market solution to health – why I will always oppose euthanasia in NZ

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The Daily Blog 9 June 2017
Family First Comment: You won’t find us agreeing with Martyn Bradbury very often – and probably he with us. But this column is fascinating – and very revealing.
#rejectassistedsuicide
In a country with a mental health system as horrifically underfunded as ours, euthanasia would simply become a tread mill by faceless Wellington bureaucrats for cost cutting purposes on the most vulnerable.
So David Seymour gets to debate his euthanasia bill.
How awful.
For ACT, euthanasia is a free market solution to health.
In a country with a mental health system as horrifically underfunded as ours, euthanasia would simply become a tread mill by faceless Wellington bureaucrats for cost cutting purposes on the most vulnerable.
Look at the way CYFS abuse children in its care.
Look at the way mental health services shrug off their responsibilities for the suicide rates.
Look at how Housing NZ don’t care about toddlers in freezing homes.
Look at how the Ministry of Development simply shoves people into motels.
Look at how WINZ torment rape victims and trap beneficiaries into debt.
Are you seriously telling me the neoliberal welfare state of NZ cares about NZers so much they can be trusted with administering euthanasia?
I don’t support euthanasia in NZ.
I’ve heard the arguments, I’ve listened to the debate, and I just don’t support it.
“If you were an animal you wouldn’t let it suffer” – Yes but we aren’t animals are we. We are self-conscious free thinking human beings.
“Letting people live in pain is wrong”. Yes it is, and we have incredible pain management these days, only very rare cases are left to writhe in agony.
“People have the right to end their life”. No they don’t. They may have the right to commit suicide if you want to go that far, but the right to ask another to end their life? That’s not been agreed to at all! This is a decision whanau and the wider community are all party to because of it’s ramifications upon the very fabric of our society.
I have 3 main reasons I disagree with euthanasia in NZ.
The first is the type of person and the reasons they push for euthanasia. It always seems to me to be alpha type personalities. Over achievers, people of deep independence who pride themselves on that independence. People who would consider the embarrassment of being unable to control their body functions worse than death itself. Their demand for death revolves around their inability to control the process of death. That doesn’t warrant allowing another to administer a medical cocktail that ends life.
Which brings me to my second reason, the humility of death. Dying as a process isn’t supposed to be clean and efficient. It’s painful, it’s human, it requires the family and friends you’ve built in a lifetime to nurse you through your final moments. It is a deeply emotional time, a journey where the journey is far more important than the destination. The process of letting go, of saying goodbye is a deeply personal and intimate part of the human experience. To deny that is to deny one of the most important rituals of human life.
But the biggest reason I would never want euthanasia in NZ is Jenny Shipley.
READ MORE: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/06/09/for-act-euthanasia-is-a-free-market-solution-to-health-why-i-will-always-oppose-euthanasia-in-nz/

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Isaac Davison: Legal euthanasia not a done deal

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NZ Herald 9 June 2017
Family First Comment: Well said Isaac. We can live without it.
Act Party leader David Seymour talks about legalising euthanasia in New Zealand as if it is a done deal.

He spoke yesterday about his End of Life Choice Bill passing into law easily, possibly even by the end of the year.

Seymour may be showing the cockiness of youth, but he appears to be underestimating the depth of feeling about the issue in New Zealand.

He points to public polls which show up to 75 per cent of New Zealanders are in favour of assisted dying. But the 20,000 submissions to a committee considering a law change over the past six months paint a less certain picture.Unlike the last big conscience issue faced by Parliament, same-sex marriage, there is no clear political or generational divide on euthanasia. Many of the strongest supporters are elderly people who have seen a loved one suffer terribly in their final years or months.

The most influential factor in people’s support or opposition was personal experience. And everyone had a different story to tell the committee.

There was the woman who supported a law change because she had once witnessed the bloody aftermath of a terminally ill neighbour who had killed himself. There was the young student who survived Stage 3 cancer and concluded that seriously ill people were not capable of deciding about the future. And there was the high-ranking Dutch official and fervent believer in euthanasia who changed his mind after witnessing thousands of cases.

One of the most common arguments raised by opponents is the risk of the slippery slope – that laws could gradually be loosened to allow relatively healthy people to be eligible for an assisted death.

Whether Seymour’s bill progresses will come down to how broad its scope is, and whether he can convince his colleagues that the safeguards go far enough.

His legislation is based on former Labour MP Maryan Street’s bill, but goes further by making non-terminal patients eligible for a medically-assisted death. That has caused even the Greens – the only party with a pro-euthanasia policy – to pause before deciding how its MPs will vote.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11872515

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McCoskrie v Vickers – Seymour should pull plug on his euthanasia bill

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 9 June 2017
Family First Comment: Politicians in NZ have rejected previous attempts to decriminalise euthanasia because the safeguards, while sounding good, would not guarantee the protection required for vulnerable people. The international evidence backs up these concerns.
Euthanasia is a problem, not a solution.
• COMMENT: Bob McCoskrie is national director of the lobby group Family First.
Act MP David Seymour should pull the plug on his private member’s bill.

Patients facing death have a fundamental human right to receive the very best palliative care, love and support that we can give to alleviate the ‘intolerable suffering’ that they fear. This is real ‘death with dignity’. Assisting their suicide is not the answer.

Assisted suicide would place large numbers of vulnerable people at real risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, disabled, experiencing chronic illness, and who feel under emotional or financial pressure to request early death.

They may come to feel euthanasia would be “the right thing to do”, they’ve “had a good innings”, and they do not want to be a “burden” to their nearest and dearest. Not a ‘right to die’ but a ‘duty to die’.A disability rights group in NZ said “There are endless ways of telling disabled people time and time again that their life has no value.”

One of the disturbing underlying justifications for euthanasia is that euthanasia could result in valuable savings in public healthcare and geriatric services expenditure. This is a disturbing development, perhaps unintentional, but a real risk.

The push for assisted suicide also presents a serious risk to public health and safety because there is a ‘social contagion’ aspect to suicide – assisted or non-assisted. We need more discussion about suicide prevention. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.

Politicians in NZ have rejected previous attempts to decriminalise euthanasia because the safeguards, while sounding good, would not guarantee the protection required for vulnerable people.

The international evidence backs up these concerns.

Euthanasia is a problem, not a solution.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11872478

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Evidence shows euthanasia bill flawed – Maxim

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Voxy.co.nz 8 June 2017
Family First Comment: Well said by the Maxim Institute
“Anyone advocating for euthanasia or assisted suicide should have to answer this question: How many wrongful deaths are they prepared to risk if these practices are introduced in New Zealand? What is the number? What is the acceptable error rate, where error means wrongful death?” says Alex Penk.
Exactly!
“David Seymour’s private member’s bill is based on an illusion. It assumes that it’s possible to create safeguards around assisted suicide practices that can prevent wrongful deaths,” says Maxim Institute CEO, Alex Penk. “However, international evidence has shown that there is no reliably safe way to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide.”
“Anyone advocating for euthanasia or assisted suicide should have to answer this question: How many wrongful deaths are they prepared to risk if these practices are introduced in New Zealand? What is the number? What is the acceptable error rate, where error means wrongful death?” says Alex Penk.
“While Mr Seymour’s private member’s bill is getting attention now, of far more significance to this debate will be the results of the Select Committee’s inquiry into this issue, which will have considered and included evidence presented by more than 20,000 New Zealanders, professional bodies, legal experts, and organisations.”
http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/5/284854
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