Monthly Archives

May 2018

Maggie Barry: Dignified death, yes, but check the detail

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 27 May 2018
Family First Comment: “I do not want New Zealand to become a country where vulnerable dementia sufferers or disabled people are not valued and become even more susceptible to pressure from society to end their lives prematurely. I share in the concerns of Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero, who said the bill “undermines the position of disabled and vulnerable members of our community. It devalues their lives and poses significant risk to them.””

As deputy chairwoman of the justice select committee, I’ve been listening to some very well considered submissions on the controversial euthanasia and assisted suicide bill before Parliament.

There were 36,000 individuals and groups who wrote to Parliament with their views on the End of Life Choice Bill. Ten per cent have indicated that they would like to be heard in person, which the committee has promised to do.

So we have extended the reporting deadline from September to next March. While I will listen attentively and respectfully to everyone’s viewpoint, I remain concerned at the lack of adequate safeguards to protect our most vulnerable.

A troubling aspect emerging from the public discussions is the large number of people who say they are in favour of the bill but who admit that they have not actually read it, claiming they don’t care about the detail, they just want to have the option.

Have you ever heard of anyone who did not want to die with dignity or be treated with compassion? Rather than being lulled by the wording around this poorly drafted bill, I’ve been urging people to delve deeper – it’s vital to know the details when stakes are so high and protections for the vulnerable so low.

Many incorrectly assume the law only applies to the terminally ill, but it would actually licence doctors to end the life of anyone with a “grievous, irremediable condition”.

That vague phrase is not an accepted medical or legal one and leaves the door open for coercion and abuse, and could potentially extend to include people with long-term conditions such as arthritis, dementia and diabetes as it has in other countries that have opened the door to euthanasia.

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Double whammy: Votes on legalising cannabis and euthanasia possible before the election

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 23 May 2018
Family First Comment: The ‘social engineering’ train is on a roll!

New Zealanders may get the opportunity to vote on legalising cannabis and voluntary euthanasia at the same time, possibly as early as next year.

Labour agreed to hold a public referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use at or before the 2020 general election as part of its confidence and supply agreement with the Greens.

The Government now says it could be held ahead of the election to make sure it did not overshadow the election campaign.

Parliament is also considering a bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia, and NZ First has said its support is conditional on a binding referendum on the law change.

The bill’s sponsor, Act Party leader David Seymour, has agreed to that proposal, though it will still need majority support in Parliament to proceed.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said there could be some benefits to holding two referenda at the same time.

“If you’re going to do one, you might as well do a job lot,” he said.

“It would make sense to not have to spend a lot of money on a succession of referenda.”

There could also be some value in holding a referendum outside the election period, Little said.

Cabinet had not yet considered the cannabis referendum, but when it did the date would be one of its considerations.


Palliative care experts say euthanasia goes against core belief that death and dying are ‘natural part of life’

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 19 May 2018
Family First Comment: “We don’t talk enough about dying and we need to change that. We think it would help if people knew a bit more about the actual process of dying and what to expect
We suspect a lot of the current debate is fueled by fear of the unknown, and a lack of information about what care is available and what actually happens when someone dies. In our experience a good safe death is peaceful, dignified and a natural process.”

Palliative care experts in Hawke’s Bay say they are against both David Seymour’s members bill, and the legalisation of “any form” of euthanasia or assisted dying.

“Our reasons for this are many including that it creates a real risk of wrongful death by placing vulnerable people at risk of something not of their choosing,” Cranford Hospice chief executive Janice Byford-Jones said.

“It is also against the core belief we hold that death and dying is a natural part of life.”

The subject of euthanasia is emotional and personal, and we acknowledge and respect the diversity of views. However, many of us who work in palliative care have real concerns about the private member’s bill before Parliament, and moreover, with assisted suicide in general.”

Byford-Jones added that there were also concerns about just how many people did not have a full understanding of what palliative or end of life care was actually all about and indeed, what was meant by “euthanasia”.

“Euthanasia involves the intention to end a life.

“Euthanasia is not – when a person’s pain relief is increased, the removal or discontinuation of unwanted treatment, the creation of do-not-resuscitate orders.”

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Deadline for End of Life Choice bill extended due to interest

By | Recent News

NewsTalk ZB 21 May 2018
Family First Comment: Not written submissions – but oral submissions. 3,500 requests to do an oral submission 😊

A deadline for an assisted dying law change has been pushed back again because of a record level of interest.

Public hearings begin today on the End of Life Choice Bill, and so far 35,000 submissions have been received.

Justice Committee chair Raymond Huo said submissions were still being processed, but it was already believed to be a record number.

The last high-profile conscience issue, the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2012, attracted around 22,000 submissions.

The committee was initially given nine months to hear the submissions, an extension on the usual six months. It has now pushed the deadline back another three months, to March, to cope with the huge workload.

Select committees usually choose which submitters they want to hear from in person, but because of the significance of the legislation the Justice Committee has decided to hear from anyone who wants to make an oral submission.

So far, 3500 people have said they want to appear in person.

That means the eight-person committee will have to split into four sub-committees to hear them all in meetings around the country.

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Legalising voluntary euthanasia a slippery slope: Geriatrician

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 19 May 2018
Family First Comment: “The reason is not because I’m pig-headed or because I don’t have any empathy for those who are in difficult situations. We don’t need it; if you talk to the bulk of our palliative care positions they will tell you they can manage even the most difficult illness or disability.”

A retired professor with more than four decades of medical practice as a geriatrician and terminal care manager says he has grave concerns for the future if voluntary euthanasia is legalised.

Dr David Richmond, professor emeritus of geriatric medicine at the University of Auckland and founder of the HOPE Foundation for Research on Ageing, said he would never support medically assisted dying, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

“The reason is not because I’m pig-headed or because I don’t have any empathy for those who are in difficult situations.

“We don’t need it; if you talk to the bulk of our palliative care positions they will tell you they can manage even the most difficult illness or disability.”

Richmond said proponents were failing to take responsibility for the long term issues associated with medically assisted death.

“Although within the first year of legalising euthanasia it may be looked at as being okay with no problems, by the time you get to eight to 10 years out it begins to create the most horrendous problems, not only to the medical profession but society as a whole.”

His biggest concern was that doctors and nurses would become too relaxed about the due processes in place and end the lives of those who either didn’t want euthanasia or weren’t eligible.

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Enabling Suicide Should Always Be A Crime

By | Media Releases

Media Release 11 May 2018
Family First NZ is welcoming the decision in the Wellington High Court of the conviction and fining of Susan Austen who enabled a woman to commit suicide. Family First is now calling on the police to lay similar charges against Dr Philip Nitschke.

Family First is also calling on the Voluntary Euthanasia Society to return the donations of suicide victim Annemarie Treadwell. It is disturbing and ethically questionable that VES are profiting from aiding and abetting suicide and questions whether the case is more about coercion than compassion.

“The case shows that we should be very wary of groups and politicians calling for euthanasia laws. They propose a dangerous law, far wider than what they will publicly admit, based on the so-called right or choice of suicide to those who want it. The victim was a life-member of EXIT and was suffering from depression and arthritis but was physically fit and not suffering a terminal illness,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“It is disturbing that pro-euthanasia supporters are campaigning for importing a drug linked to assisting suicide.”

“It is completely right that our justice system should reject the promotion of suicide in New Zealand, but the police also need to turn their attention to the background 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.”

Last year, 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.

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.

Euthanasia advocate fined $7500 for importing drug her friend used to take her own life

By | Recent News

TVNZ One News 11 May 2018
Family First Comment: Good decision. Assisting suicide should always be a crime.

The woman who was put on trial for the assisted suicide of her friend has today been sentenced for providing the drugs she used to take her life.

Susan Austen was found not guilty for aiding the suicide of Anne Marie Treadwell, but was found guilty for importing the Class C drug Pentobarbital at a trial in February.

She’s today been sentenced and fined $2500 for the first charge and $5000 on the second charge, of importing the drug.

The judge in the case declined a discharge without conviction.

Austen faced a two week long trial in the High Court in Wellington. She was found not guilty on February 23 on the charge of assisting Anne Marie Treadwell to commit suicide, but guilty on two charges of importing the Class C drug.

Pentobarbital is commonly used by vets in New Zealand to euthanise animals.



Australian scientist David Goodall dies after lethal injection

By | Recent News

The Sydney Morning Herald 10 May 2018
Family First Comment: How ironic. At the bottom of this disturbing article is this statement…
“Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline…”
Apparently some suicides are okay. Apparently.

Australian scientist David Goodall has ended his life at a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland, asking in his final words: “Why is this taking so long?”

The 104-year old had to answer twice the four questions – what is your name, what is your date of birth, why have you come to the clinic and do you know what will happen when you press this button? – that are asked of anyone seeking to undergo voluntary euthanasia because, due to his arthritis, he was unable to press the button to release the deadly injection on his first attempt.

Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke, who revealed he acted as “music director” during the Professor Goodall’s death in Switzerland, said the Australian’s final words were said “flippantly” and impatiently as if to hurry death.

In a “final day press release” which included new photographs of Professor Goodall’s final hours, the prominent euthanasia campaigner said he was “proud to have been appointed ‘music director'”.

“David’s chosen music was the Ode to Joy of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. David died at the moment the Song (sung in German) concluded,” the statement said.

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‘Brain-dead’ US boy regains consciousness one day before doctors set to pull plug

By | Recent News

TVNZ One News 8 May 2018
Family First Comment: Still want that euthanasia?
We can live without it.

An Alabama boy is being called a miracle after suffering severe brain trauma from a dune buggy accident. He came back to life after his parents signed the paperwork to donate his organs.

Thirteen-year-old Trenton McKinley of Mobile was playing at a friend’s house two months ago.

He was riding in a small utility trailer being pulled by a dune buggy for kids.

Trenton says his friend pressed on the brakes suddenly, causing the trailer to flip.

He says he quickly threw his friend’s 4-year-old niece off into the grass, but in the process, got caught in the trailer as it flipped.

“I hit the concrete and the trailer landed on top of my head. After that, I don’t remember anything,” said Trenton.

He was rushed to USA Medical Center for emergency surgery. He had seven skull fractures.

“When he came back, they said he would never be normal again. They told me the oxidation problems would be so bad to his brain, that he would be a vegetable if he even made it.”

For the next several days, Trenton was brain-dead and barely breathing. His parents were faced with a difficult decision. They signed the papers to donate his organs.

“Five kids needed organs that matched him,” said Reindl.

“It was unfair to keep bringing him back, because it was just damaging his organs even more.”

A day before doctors were set to pull the plug, Trenton started showing signs of cognition. He believes he was in heaven while he was gone.

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Opinion: Seymour shuns submitters on end-of-life bill

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 7 May 2018
Family First Comment: Excellent op-ed from Simon O’Connor
“Seymour must be convinced that no one will ever be coerced into dying for the convenience or financial gain of another. He obviously believes no one in his family would ever encourage someone to end their life early so that the will could be read that much sooner. Indeed, it is tempting to think that of all families in New Zealand. However, we know that elder abuse is rampant, and that seniors, the sick, and the disabled are already marginalised in our society. Many feel unvalued and unwelcome, either through the deliberate actions of others or because of a prevalent unconscious bias. In the face of these and other concerns, it is unfortunate that Seymour has dismissed anyone not wholeheartedly supporting him as “fearmongering”. This is an injustice to the issue, to those who disagree with him, and to his own bill.”

A few weeks ago David Seymour dismissed tens of thousands of New Zealanders who wrote to Parliament with their concerns about his End of Life Choice bill.

Submissions on his bill, which allows for euthanasia or assisted dying, have barely closed and he has already stated he doesn’t care what people have to say.

Armed with a handful of polls that assure him of just how right he thinks he is on this issue, he has decided Parliament no longer needs to think for itself.

The problem with relying on public polling to decide serious, complex social issues is that it inherently reduces the issue to a simple yes or no question. This is a dangerous way to address difficult subjects, especially when lives are at stake.

Polling questions are not only simple, they are entirely dependent on the imagination of those polled. It is very easy to support just about any proposition if you are asked only about the idealised version in your own mind.

While polls may indicate broad public support for the concept of “assisted dying”, the public has never been asked about the specifics. Supporting an abstract principle is very different from writing a law that will shape the real world.

Assisted suicide, and this bill in particular, is a serious risk to many people in our society.
Though Seymour is at great pains to remind everyone this bill advocates only voluntary euthanasia, we also know that many people are vulnerable to abuse, bullying and exploitation.

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