Euthanasia referendum: The right to die or a licence to kill?

By September 9, 2020 Recent News

Stuff co.nz 8 September 2020
Family First Comment:“As a specialist geriatrician for the past 25 years I have cared for older people with a wide range of acute and chronic illnesses and I want you to understand why this Act is so dangerous.
You see this Act is not about allowing people choice to end their life, decline resuscitation or turn off life support because these are all already legal in New Zealand. No, this Act is about making it legal for someone else to take your life – and at a moment in time when you are at your most fragile.”
Protect.org.nz

OPINION: I’ve never been political but have become increasingly vocal with the End of Life Act looming. If you haven’t read this Act then I strongly urge you to do so.

As a specialist geriatrician for the past 25 years I have cared for older people with a wide range of acute and chronic illnesses and I want you to understand why this Act is so dangerous.

You see this Act is not about allowing people choice to end their life, decline resuscitation or turn off life support because these are all already legal in New Zealand.

No, this Act is about making it legal for someone else to take your life – and at a moment in time when you are at your most fragile.

And that someone just happens to be your doctor – just a quick rewrite of the Hippocratic Oath (just that bit about never harming you). Talk about mixed messages for our patients!

For doctors like me, it’s a quantum leap from caring for someone as they die … to actively killing someone who may not be dying at all. You see this Act talks about the state of being terminal. But doctors have never been able to predict death accurately. Who doesn’t know someone, given six months to live, proudly re-telling the story years later down at the local pub.

The reasons promoting euthanasia are sometimes because of distressing cases. And yes, I’ve lost family and friends to cancer and neurological disease and one day it will be me.  But, no matter how much insurance and control we may want over our deaths, how can this Act be supported when it takes away the legal protection when we are at our most vulnerable. Having control and choice is all very appealing but not when it places our most vulnerable at risk, and bullies doctors into the bargain.

In Aotearoa, we already score poorly with many of our social indices for both young and old compared to other countries. Elder abuse currently affects 10 per cent of older people in New Zealand although this figure is thought to be much higher in reality due to underreporting.
Dr John Thwaites is a consultant physician and geriatrician and a member of the Vote No to the End of Life Act group.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/300102192/euthanasia-referendum-the-right-to-die-or-a-licence-to-kill

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