Monthly Archives

November 2019

Wendi Wicks: New Zealand’s euthanasia bill is a step into the unknown for disabled people

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The Guardian 14 November 2019
Family First Comment: Well said, Wendi
“The bill cannot and does not make firm distinctions between personal illness and disability or between terminal illness and chronic conditions, or between terminal illness and depression or other mental illness. It relies on prognosis and diagnosis, which are imprecise arts. It doesn’t protect against coercion, competency or consent abuses. It doesn’t allow for a cooling-down period like Oregon or Victoria have. Safeguards are vague and lax. Worse still, there’s a sense that a certain level of wrongful death is acceptable.”
#protect

Disabled people need to feel safe and this legislation leaves grey areas between terminal illness and chronic conditions

On Wednesday night, New Zealand MPs voted to adopt the end of life choice bill despite any number of warnings that it is a dangerous piece of work. It is risky to disabled people and unsafe to all.

In 2016, Canada passed euthanasia legislation and a consortium of appalled disabled Canadians fought a desperate rearguard action to bring in a vulnerable person’s standard (VPS). We’d not need that sort of thing, I thought. Clearly I was complacent. Disabled Australians, Canadians and Americans are appalled at euthanasia bills while British, Irish and Scots are incandescent.

I feel betrayed by Parliament’s vote. Do we need something like a VPS here, for disabled New Zealanders I wonder?

Now all that stands between us and this bill is a referendum scheduled to coincide with our next general election, in 2020. Then there may be no way for the community of disabled people like me (25% of New Zealand’s population), to feel safe from wrongful death.

The law creates a risk to individuals in our community of disabled people and to our community as a whole. How can any MP be able to agree to a measure that endangers a whole community that they are not a member of? Our legislative safeguards have stepped into the shadows and too many MPs think that’s an acceptable trade-off. A friendly QC commented on my vulnerability to the law thus: “You’re toast.” Me and how many other disabled people?

Our concerns about the bill are many. They include that the bill cannot and does not make firm distinctions between personal illness and disability or between terminal illness and chronic conditions, or between terminal illness and depression or other mental illness. It relies on prognosis and diagnosis, which are imprecise arts. It doesn’t protect against coercion, competency or consent abuses.

It doesn’t allow for a cooling-down period like Oregon or Victoria have. Safeguards are vague and lax. Worse still, there’s a sense that a certain level of wrongful death is acceptable.
READ MORE: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/14/new-zealands-euthanasia-bill-is-a-step-into-the-unknown-for-disabled-people

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Assisted Suicide / Euthanasia – How they voted (3rd Reading)

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The Campaign To PROTECT has now been launched.

The 3rd and final reading of the assisted suicide / euthanasia bill happened last night. The only way the liberals were able to get the bill ‘across the line’ was to offer a referendum – a tool that normally they want nothing to do with (remember the anti-smacking 87% referendum?). That’s how weak this bill is.

The so-called ‘safeguards’ – many of which were not even allowed to be debated – will not guarantee the protection required for vulnerable people.

We need to apply the precautionary principle: the higher the risk – the higher the burden of proof on those proposing liberalisation of the law. But the risk of abuse simply cannot be eliminated. How many euthanasia ‘mistakes’ are we willing to accept? We say NONE.

That’s why we will be strongly and vigorously promoting a NO vote in the referendum at the end of next year. 



How they voted…..

NATIONAL MPs:

Voted Against Euthanasia:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Maggie Barry, Andrew Bayly, David Bennett, Dan Bidois, Simon Bridges, Simeon Brown, Gerry Brownlee, David Carter, Jacqui Dean, Sarah Dowie, Paulo Garcia, Paul Goldsmith, Nathan Guy, Jo Hayes, Harete Hipango, Denise Lee, Melissa Lee, Agnes Loheni, Tim Macindoe, Todd McClay, Ian McKelvie, Todd Muller, Alfred Ngaro, Simon O’Connor, Parmjeet Parmar, Chris Penk, Maureen Pugh, Shane Reti, Alastair Scott, Nick Smith, Anne Tolley, Louise Upston, Nicky Wagner, Hamish Walker, Michael Woodhouse, Jonathan Young, Lawrence Yule  (38)


Voted For Euthanasia
:

Amy Adams, Paula Bennett, Chris Bishop, Judith Collins, Matt Doocey, Andrew Falloon, Brett Hudson, Nikki Kaye, Matt King, Barbara Kuriger, Mark Mitchell, Scott Simpson, Stuart Smith, Erica Stanford, Tim van de Molen, Nicola Willis, Jian Yang (17)
LABOUR: 

Voted Against Euthanasia:

David Clark, Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki, Damien O’Connor, Adrian Rurawhe, Deborah Russell, Jenny Salesa, Aupito Tofe Sua William Sio, Jamie Strange, Rino Tirikatene, Phil Twyford, Meka Whaitiri, Michael Wood, Poto Williams (13)

 

Voted For Euthanasia:

Kiri Allan, Ginny Andersen, Jacinda Ardern, Tamati Coffey, Liz Craig, Clare Curran, Kelvin Davis, Ruth Dyson, Paul Eagle, Kris Faafoi, Peeni Henare, Chris Hipkins, Raymond Huo, Willie Jackson, Iain Lees-Galloway, Andrew Little, Marja Lubeck, Jo Luxton, Nanaia Mahuta, Trevor Mallard, Kieran McAnulty, Stuart Nash, Greg O’Connor, David Parker, Willow-Jean Prime, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Grant Robertson, Carmel Sepuloni, Jan Tinetti, Louisa Wall, Angie Warren-Clark, Duncan Webb, Megan Woods (33)
NZ FIRST MPs: 

Voted For Euthanasia:

Darroch Ball, Shane Jones, Jenny Marcroft, Ron Mark, Tracey Martin, Clayton Mitchell, Mark Patterson, Winston Peters, Fletcher Tabuteau (all 9 MPs)
GREEN MPs: 

Voted For Euthanasia:

Marama Davidson, Julie Anne Genter, Golriz Ghahraman, Gareth Hughes, Jan Logie, Eugenie Sage, James Shaw, Chloe Swarbrick (all 8 MPs)
OTHER: 
David Seymour / Jami-Lee Ross

Why I oppose the End of Life Choice Bill, in plain English

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Stuff co.nz 13 November 2019
Family First Comment: A superb summation of why politicians should vote NO to assisted suicide.
But are they listening?
1 No protection from coercion
2 Broader than other o/s legislation
3 Given our suicide epidemic, this is too risky
4 Weak review system
5 Will reduce end of life care – esp to low income

OPINION: Later today, our MPs will cast their final vote on the End of Life Choice Bill. It all comes down to deciding whether the bill, with its changes, will ultimately deliver what it says.

My position on euthanasia is well known. I have spoken many times about why I am opposed in principle. But to my former colleagues I say, even if you agree in principle, this is not the bill to deliver euthanasia and assisted suicide to New Zealanders.

This bill, if it passes, will make New Zealand a less safe place for the old, the vulnerable, the depressed and the disabled, and here are five reasons why.

Firstly, it does not provide real protection from coercion. Talk to any doctor and they will tell you it is virtually impossible to detect subtle emotional coercion, and even overt coercion, at the best of times. Yet many people will be “signed off” by medical practitioners with little or no understanding of the patient’s family or social history, let alone medical history. The law requires doctors only to “do their best” – hardly an adequate measure of robust clinical care standards.

Secondly, I know that many MPs will be finely tuned to the “hard cases”. However, for all the talk about narrowing the legislation down, this bill is much broader than the new Victorian law, as well as those states in the United States where only assisted suicide is available. We know that, when euthanasia is included, the numbers accessing it are at least 10 times greater. This bill is “overkill” – if the argument was really about the hard cases, then it would be a much tighter bill.

Thirdly, there is the contentious and vexed question of the relationship between suicide rates and assisted dying. As 21 mental health practitioners and academics recently argued, there is mounting statistical evidence from Oregon, Belgium and the Netherlands to suggest that, as the numbers using assisted dying rise, so too do suicide rates. The onus is on David Seymour and the likes to prove it is safe, and he cannot do this. Until then, given our suicide epidemic, sensible and caring thinking says it is too risky to proceed.

Fourthly, the review system does not include access to patient records, as is the case in the Netherlands. So it is a much weaker law in that regard. Even then, after nearly 20 years, up to 23 per cent of euthanasia deaths are not being reported there. We can only guess what it would be like here with a less robust system.

Fifthly, there is growing evidence from Canada and the US that people are choosing euthanasia or assisted suicide because of a lack of access to proper end-of-life care – in other words because of a lack of real choice. To me that is unacceptable, especially when it is most likely to affect people in lower socio-economic areas. No-one can rightly claim that as a compassionate choice.

Five reasons why this bill will not deliver compassion. Five reasons to vote “No”.

* Former prime minister Sir Bill English has opposed the End of Life Choice Bill since its first reading.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/117361324/why-i-oppose-the-end-of-life-choice-bill-in-plain-english

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MPs who have changed their mind on euthanasia

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In 2003, the Death with Dignity Bill would have legalised euthanasia by allowing people who are incurably and terminally ill to request and receive medical assistance to end their lives. The bill was defeated, fortunately.

The MPs below were in the House and voted against the bill in 2003.

Nothing has changed since then, except that palliative care and pain management has improved significantly as medical knowledge has increased.

Why are these MPs now voting FOR David Seymour’s euthanasia bill (based on their 2nd Reading vote).

They should vote NO.