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August 2020

Hospice Southland says ‘no’ to End of Life Choice bill

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Stuff co.nz 25 August 2020
Family First Comment: Great decision. 
“Wards is particularly concerned that the act required patients to specify the time, date, and place where they wish to die.
This wasn’t conducive to terminal illness which often had many variables. He is also opposed to the bill’s stipulation that patients can choose assisted dying independently, without input from their family.”

Assisted dying will not be carried out on Hospice Southland grounds or by its staff, no matter how Kiwis vote in the upcoming referendum.

Hospice leadership have made their opposition to the End of Life Choice Act clear in a position statement sent to Southland medical bodies, medical staff, and rest homes.

“Hospice Southland does not take any action to cause patients to die sooner than they would naturally,” the letter, signed by the organisation’s medical director Amanda Sommerfeldt and chief executive Peter Wards, said.

While they would never turn someone who supported or wanted assisted dying away, Sommerfeldt said: “It won’t be done here.”

This comes after a high court ruling on a case brought by Hospice New Zealand found that medical practitioners and institutions, like hospice, had the right to conscientious objection.

In other words: they will be allowed to refuse to carry out assisted dying if it goes against the organisation’s values.

Hospice Southland’s position was discussed with all staff members – from clinical staff, to those running the Hospice Southland shop – before being put to the board of trustees and made public, Wards said.

“You’ll never get 100 per cent agreement, but this was pretty close,” Sommerfeldt added.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/122557454/hospice-southland-says-no-to-end-of-life-choice-bill

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Kiwi scientist Sean Davison struck off over role in assisted deaths in South Africa

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Stuff co.nz 11 August 2020
Family First Comment: Good decision. This is why assisted suicide is never safe
“Davison admitted administering Burger a lethal concoction of drugs, “placing a bag over [Varian’s] head and administering helium with the intent of helium deoxygenation and/or asphyxiation”, and giving Holland a lethal dose of pentobarbital. He argued it was “compassionate”” 🙁
A lawyer for the Professional Conduct Committee said Davison’s role in the deaths was a “deliberate breach of the obligation of all medical practitioners” to protect the “sanctity” of life, and would be seen by the public as “unacceptable” of a person registered in New Zealand.

An Auckland-born doctor convicted of helping three people to die overseas has been struck off the register.

Euthanasia advocate Professor Sean Davison appeared before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal on Tuesday via video link from South Africa, where he lives.

In 2019 – while holding a provisional registration with the Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand – the medical laboratory scientist pleaded guilty to three murders in South Africa and was sentenced to three years’ house arrest.

Davison previously admitted counselling and procuring the attempted suicide of his cancer-stricken elderly mother Patricia Davison, 85, who died in 2006. He was sentenced in the High Court at Dunedin to five months’ home detention in 2011.

The charges involved the 2013 death of his friend, Anrich Burger, a doctor who became a quadriplegic after a car crash; the death of Justin Varian, who had motor neurone disease, in July 2015; and the death of sportsman Richard Holland, who had suffered brain injuries and had no motor function following a bicycle accident.

Davison admitted administering Burger a lethal concoction of drugs, “placing a bag over [Varian’s] head and administering helium with the intent of helium deoxygenation and/or asphyxiation”, and giving Holland a lethal dose of pentobarbital.

The tribunal heard Davison wished to move back to New Zealand to practise pathology after completing house arrest, and was granted a provisional registration.

He disclosed his conviction linked to the death of his mother, but failed to disclose that he had been involved in the murders of Varian and Holland when he knew his involvement was “unlawful conduct”, the tribunal heard.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal in South Africa.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/300079176/kiwi-scientist-sean-davison-struck-off-over-role-in-assisted-deaths-in-south-africa

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Euthanasia referendum: Terminal cancer patient reveals why she’s against legalising assisted dying

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NewsHub 10 August 2020
Family First Comment: Thank you Vicki for your powerful and brave voice!
“Vicki Walsh was told in June 2011 her brain cancer diagnosis was terminal and she only had 12 to 14 months to live. However, now aged 53, Walsh has had NINE more years of life since. She says that might not have happened if the choice of assisted dying had been available because she would’ve taken it.”
#protect
#rejectassistedsuicide

A woman with terminal cancer she wouldn’t consider assisted dying and will vote against legalising euthanasia in the referendum.

Vicki Walsh was told in June 2011 her brain cancer diagnosis was terminal and she only had 12 to 14 months to live.

However, now aged 53, Walsh has had nine more years of life since. She says that might not have happened if the choice of assisted dying had been available because she would’ve taken it.

“Obviously euthanasia wasn’t an option, but I had a go at killing myself. So had euthanasia been an option then, it is probably one I would have taken, not realising I was actually depressed,” she told Newshub.

Up until then, she had always believed people should have the choice of assisted dying, saying it was, “My body, my choice”. But after her suicide attempt, her views changed.

“Do you know what, I woke up the next day and I had the best day. I kept thinking, ‘What if you’d done it?'”

Walsh now believes in what she calls a journey to completion, no matter how painful the end.

“Why would I take away the fun parts? And people say to me, ‘What happens if there aren’t any fun parts?’ I say I don’t know. But I am prepared to see that journey through because I don’t believe in anybody deliberately ending someone else’s life.”

She’s now against giving people the choice for assisted dying because there is so much room to get it wrong.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/08/euthanasia-referendum-terminal-cancer-patient-reveals-why-she-s-against-legalising-assisted-dying.html

Euthanasia referendum: An oncologist’s perspective

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Stuff co.nz 6 August 2020
Family First Comment: An excellent commentary – from someone who is intimately involved in this issue….
“The other day I phoned a patient to discuss the options for treatment of her cancer and she pleaded with me not to deny her treatment. “I know I may have terminal cancer and I am older but I have so much to live for; please allow me to have treatment,” she said. I reassured her that she would be given any treatment that was suitable for her. It got me thinking that it is easy for patients to feel that somehow, they are not as worthy as others to receive treatment.“

OPINION: I am a doctor and I have worked with cancer patients for over 20 years. I love to just “roll my sleeves up” and do my job.

I do not often speak in public forums or give my opinions on issues, but I am so concerned with the implications of the End of Life Choice Act that I feel the need to speak out and share my story.

The other day I phoned a patient to discuss the options for treatment of her cancer and she pleaded with me not to deny her treatment. “I know I may have terminal cancer and I am older but I have so much to live for; please allow me to have treatment,” she said. I reassured her that she would be given any treatment that was suitable for her.

It got me thinking that it is easy for patients to feel that somehow, they are not as worthy as others to receive treatment.

One of the great privileges of my job is that I can care for those who in society’s eyes may be considered vulnerable. In my practice I care for patients with brain damage, elderly folk (96 is my record so far), prisoners, people with extreme learning difficulties, with severe mental illness and with hearing or visual impairment.

Each of these patients is in addition receiving care for terminal conditions. Should the End of Life Choice Act become law, each of these patients may become open to subtle coercion to feel that requesting medically assisted dying would be ‘the right thing to do’ to avoid being a financial or physical burden to those who care for them.

The Oregon Health Authority reports that 59 per cent of patients who requested assisted suicide in 2019 gave being a burden to their family as one of their reasons.

Dr Melissa James is a radiation oncologist affiliated with the organisation Doctors say no.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/122351691/euthanasia-referendum-an-oncologists-perspective

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Auckland 4-year-old ‘thriving’ a year after being given just weeks to live

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Stuff co.nz 5 August 2020
A year ago, Olivia Clark didn’t think she would get to celebrate another Christmas or birthday with her young daughter.

Four-year-old Luna was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, meaning the left side of her heart is missing.

After four open-heart surgeries, the first of which Luna had at just two days old, fluid in her body refused to drain and doctors said they weren’t confident she would survive another surgery.

In August 2019, the Clark family took Luna home after about five months in Auckland’s Starship Children’s Hospital.

They had decided her quality of life was more important, and they wanted to give her all the experiences she wanted.

Luna’s team of doctors said her family may have just four weeks with her if the fluid continued at the rate it was filling up.

But a year later, her mum says Luna is “absolutely thriving”.

“They can’t really explain it, we can’t explain it, it’s just … she’s just not ready to go.”
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/122341930/auckland-4yearold-thriving-a-year-after-being-given-just-weeks-to-live

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