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Inquiry Already Confirms We Can Live Without Euthanasia

By | Media Releases

Media Release 12 December 2017
Family First NZ is calling on politicians to reject ACT MP David Seymour’s private members bill to legalise euthanasia. The recent parliamentary inquiry sounded a clear warning that changing the law on assisted suicide could be seen as normalising suicide, and an overwhelming 77% of the 21,000+ submitters – in an extensive and lengthy inquiry – have rejected calls for euthanasia.

“It is time for New Zealand and David Seymour to move on from the current political push for assisted suicide, and to focus on what New Zealanders really need and want – a focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people, whether they are at the end of their life, or momentarily wishing they were at the end of their life,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Safe euthanasia is a myth. Euthanasia will remove the ‘choice’ of many vulnerable people, and fails the public safety test. Promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people, the disabled and elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide.”

The government report released in August shared this concern, saying:
“Many submitters were concerned that if assisted dying was legalized, people would see death as an acceptable response to suffering. It would be difficult to say that some situations warranted ending one’s life while others do not. These submitters were concerned that while terminal illnesses would initially be the only scenario in which ending one’s life would be considered acceptable, this would quickly widen to include any degree of physical pain, then to include mental pain, and then in response to many other situations that arise throughout life… Several submitters suggested that, during their worst periods of depression, they would have opted for euthanasia had it been available in New Zealand.”

Advocates of assisted suicide tried to suggest that suicide can be categorised as either “rational” or “irrational”. But the government report also said:
“This distinction was not supported by any submitters working in the field of suicide prevention or grief counselling. On the contrary, we heard from youth counsellors and youth suicide prevention organisations that suicide is always undertaken in response to some form of suffering, whether that is physical, emotional, or mental.”
 
Family First will be mounting a rigorous campaign against the bill, should it make it past its 1st Reading.
www.rejectassistedsuicide.nz 
ENDS

Extremist Victoria Says Yes, NSW Says No To Euthanasia

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Media Release 23 November 2017
Family First NZ says that Victoria has gone against the worldwide trend and introduced a flawed and dangerous assisted suicide law – a week after the New South Wales upper house voted down a similar bill.

“Victoria is well known for its extremist laws, including its extreme abortion law which allows abortion on demand right up to birth. Ironically, Victoria’s euthanasia law has come under attack from a euthanasia supporter Philip Nitschke who believes in suicide as a human right and said that Victoria’s bill was the “world’s most unworkable end-of-life law and that it was not going to change the growing demand by elderly people to suicide as a right,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Safe euthanasia is a myth. Victoria’s 68 ‘safeguards’ will not provide any comfort. NSW Labour health spokesman Walt Secord said, during the NSW debate, “I have not yet seen it possible to develop adequate legislative safeguards to protect people from the misuse of these laws. I have not yet seen a legislative model in this area that cannot be exploited or manipulated. And I cannot support any gaps for exploitation when the consequences are so final.” New South Wales political leaders have realised this and voted accordingly, and New Zealand politicians should do likewise.”

Rejection of assisted suicide has been dominant throughout the world. An analysis of attempts in the USA to allow assisted suicide reveal an overwhelming failure rate associated with such legislation: fewer than 1% of all assisted suicide bills become law. Just this year, 46 bills to legalise assisted suicide in 27 states have been defeated, despite proponents of assisted suicide spending heavily. Between 2015-2017, legislation was also defeated in Scotland, United Kingdom, South Australia and Tasmania, with the only successes coming in Canada, and the three US states of California, Colorado and Washington, DC.

“The government report released earlier this year as a result of the Inquiry in NZ revealed that the level of opposition to euthanasia is no anomaly, and explains why a select committee comprising both proponents and opponents of assisted suicide could not endorse any change to the law.”

“It is time for New Zealand and David Seymour to move on from the current political push for assisted suicide, and to focus on what New Zealanders really need and want – a focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people, whether they are at the end of their life, or momentarily wishing they were at the end of their life.”
ENDS

Defeat Of Assisted Suicide Law in NSW Welcomed

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Media Release 17 November 2017
Family First NZ is welcoming news that the New South Wales upper house has voted down a bill on assisted suicide.

“Safe euthanasia is a myth. The Australian political leaders have realised this and voted accordingly, and New Zealand politicians should do likewise,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

NSW Labour health spokesman Walt Secord said, during the debate, “I have not yet seen it possible to develop adequate legislative safeguards to protect people from the misuse of these laws. I have not yet seen a legislative model in this area that cannot be exploited or manipulated. And I cannot support any gaps for exploitation when the consequences are so final.

The defeat in NSW follows a trend worldwide. An analysis of attempts in the USA to allow assisted suicide reveal an overwhelming failure rate associated with such legislation: fewer than 1% of all assisted suicide bills become law. Just this year, 46 bills to legalise assisted suicide in 27 states have been defeated, despite proponents of assisted suicide spending heavily. Between 2015-2017, legislation was also defeated in Scotland, United Kingdom, South Australia and Tasmania, with the only successes coming in Canada, and the three US states of California, Colorado and Washington, DC.

“The government report released earlier this year as a result of the Inquiry in NZ revealed that the level of opposition to euthanasia is no anomaly, and explains why a select committee comprising both proponents and opponents of assisted suicide could not endorse any change to the law. They understand that promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people, the disabled and elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide.”

“It is time for New Zealand and David Seymour to move on from the current political push for assisted suicide, and to focus on what New Zealanders really need and want – a focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people, whether they are at the end of their life, or momentarily wishing they were at the end of their life.”
ENDS

Bob McCoskrie: Assisted suicide is still a form of suicide

By | Media Releases

Newshub Online 13 Sep 2017
http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/health/2017/09/bob-mccoskrie-assisted-suicide-is-still-a-form-of-suicide.html

In a recent exchange with Family First. Nitschke tweeted; ‘Suicide is a fundamental human right – one that society has no moral right to interfere with’.

I find that attitude highly disturbing.

In 2014, euthanasia advocate Dr Philip 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. In 2009, a Wellington woman ended her life with Nembutal, after receiving advice on how to obtain it from Dr Nitschke. She was a life-member of EXIT and was suffering from depression, but was physically fit and not suffering a terminal illness.

Many people believe that the promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering.

And this appears to be the theme of the Facebook post by National MP Simon O’Connor – even if it was clumsily expressed.

Yet another MP Chester Borrows was even more blunt recently. “We have a horrific record on suicide and I think it sends a message that sometimes it is okay to top yourself. And I disagree with that.”

An analysis of the 21,000-plus submissions to the Select Committee considering euthanasia over the past 12 months found that almost a quarter of submissions opposing euthanasia were concerned about mixed messages being sent about suicide to the young and disabled.

You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.

There is a ‘social contagion’ aspect to suicide – assisted or non-assisted – and we need more discussion about suicide prevention, not euthanasia.

Laws permitting assisted suicide send a societal message that, under especially difficult circumstances, some lives are judged to be not worth living — and that suicide is a reasonable or appropriate way out of dealing with suffering.

The Scottish Parliament considered this issue when considering the introduction of an assisted suicide bill in 2015 and said :

“The Committee is concerned that this has the potential not only to undermine the general suicide prevention message by softening cultural perceptions of suicide at the perimeters, but also to communicate an offensive message to certain members of our community (many of whom may be particularly vulnerable) that society would regard it as ‘reasonable’, rather than tragic, if they wished to end their lives.”

Protracted discussion and the promotion of assisted suicide / euthanasia and related cases will – even unintentionally – undermine the suicide prevention message and goals in the following ways:

  • legalised assisted suicide can imply that the promotion of mental health and wellbeing for people in pain is futile or counterproductive, and that suicide is their best outcome
  • it would normalise positive portrayals of suicide in the public domain. People contemplating suicide may justify doing it based on positive stories and arguments they have heard about assisted suicide
  • it would ignore the possible harmful effects on families / whanau

The World Health Organization notes the scholarly research on the imitative nature of suicide:

“Systematic reviews of these (50) studies have consistently drawn the same conclusion: media reporting of suicide can lead to imitative suicidal behaviours.… Particular subgroups in the population (e.g., young people, people suffering from depression) may be especially vulnerable to engaging in imitative suicidal behaviours.

It can feed into people’s fears about dying, fears which are well dealt with through the sort of holistic care provided by palliative care.

David Seymour’s bill proposes assisted suicide for someone with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition”.

If you have ever struggled with mental illness, that definition absolutely fits – at the time.

A New Zealand Medical Journal report by New Zealand suicide researchers Annette Beautrais and David Fergusson says reporting on suicide in any way puts vulnerable people at risk.

It’s time to focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people – whether they are at the end of their life, or momentarily wishing they were at the end of their life.

Robert Salamanca wanted to commit suicide after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. This was when Jack Kevorkian was – to much media acclaim – helping people with disabilities and terminal conditions kill themselves.

Eventually, he admitted, “I came out of the fog,” so happy to be alive. Bob spent his final years watching his children grow, investing successfully online to help his family financially, and collecting art. Before he died, Bob wrote a column for the San Francisco Chronicle titled “I Don’t Want a Choice to Die”:

“[R]eporting in the media too often makes us feel like token presences, burdens who are better off dead . . . Many pro-euthanasia groups “showcase” people with ALS. They portray us as feeble, unintelligible and dying by slow suffocation. This is absolutely false, and I protest their efforts vehemently. By receiving proper medical care, a terminally ill person can pass away peacefully, pain-free and with dignity. We are not people just waiting for someone to help us end our misery, but to the contrary, we are people reaching out to love . . . to be loved . . . wanting to feel life at its best. Too many people have accepted the presumption that an extermination of some human lives can be just… Where has our sense of community gone? True, terminal illness is frightening, but the majority of us overpower the symptoms and are great contributors to life.”

Suicide. Assisted suicide. We can live without them.

You Don’t Discourage Suicide by Assisting Suicide

By | Media Releases

Media Release 11 Sep 2017
Family First NZ is warning that there is a ‘social contagion’ aspect to suicide – assisted or non-assisted – and that we need more discussion about suicide prevention, not euthanasia. The warning is being reiterated after the disagreement between National’s Simon O’Connor and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern regarding suicide.

“You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide. Suicide is already a public health crisis,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people and elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide.”

Family First has also warned politicians that guidelines around the media reporting of suicides are being widely ignored in the reporting of recent instances of assisted suicide, with the subject’s decision to end his or her life frequently presented in the media as inspiring and even heroic, and the means of committing suicide being clearly spelt out.

“This discussion needs to move on to focus on what New Zealanders really need and want – a focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people, whether they are at the end of their life, or momentarily wishing they were at the end of their life,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“We can live without assisted suicide.”
ENDS

VALUE YOUR VOTE 2017: Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide

By | Media Releases

One of the main reasons that politicians have rejected previous attempts to decriminalise assisted suicide / euthanasia is that they realised that ‘safeguards’, while sounding good, would not guarantee the protection required for vulnerable people including the disabled, elderly, depressed or anxious, and those who feel themselves to be a burden or are under financial pressure.

The international evidence backs up these concerns, and explains why so few countries have made any changes to the law around this issue. There are contradictory messages when society rightly wants to take a zero-tolerance approach to suicide, yet at the same time wants to approve a person taking their life. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a further strong argument against assisted suicide.

The solution is to ensure a palliative care regime that is fully funded and world class. That’s where the politicians’ focus should be. The recent inquiry into assisted suicide / euthanasia had 16,000+ submissions (80% of all submissions) opposing assisted suicide / euthanasia.
READ MORE: www.RejectAssistedSuicide.nz

(click on image/s to download PDF)


‘Value Your Vote’ Election Resource Launched

By | Media Releases

Media Release 13 Aug 2017
For the fourth successive election, Family First NZ has launched their Value Your Vote resource to inform voters leading up to the September election.

Value Your Vote records how existing MP’s have voted over the past five terms on controversial issues with a focus on votes related to marriage, parenting, and other key social issues. It also makes an important projection on how existing MPs are likely to vote on the upcoming euthanasia and medicinal marijuana bills,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“We believe that the issues of the economy, education, health, housing, and law and order are significant. But focusing on economics and other issues while ignoring social values will actually make society’s present problems worse, not better. Research proves that the strength of marriage and family has a major impact on the strength of our nation and the rates of child poverty, child abuse, costs of welfare, and an ordered civil society. Over the past 15 years, there have been a number of law changes voted on by our politicians specifically impacting the welfare of Kiwi families and the role of parents. Marriage has been increasingly devalued.”

There is also a survey of the party leaders’ views and voting intentions on 38 issues including the definition of marriage, income splitting, decriminalisation of abortion, euthanasia & marijuana, ‘gender identity’ in schools, Easter trading laws, same-sex adoption, paid parental leave, broadcasting standards, and many more.

“In a new feature for this election, we have asked all the major parties what their official party policy is regarding the crucial issues of marriage, the anti-smacking law, abortion, euthanasia, marijuana, gender ‘identity’, sex education in schools & parental notification, and others,” says Mr McCoskrie.

This resource was available at the last election in 2014 (and also in 2011 & 2008) and was very popular with over 100,000 page views on the website, and more than 150,000 brochures distributed throughout the country. 80,000 copies have already been ordered.

“Family First New Zealand does not endorse or oppose candidates or parties for elective office, but this resource offers an important perspective on each candidate and party in matters important to families. We are pleased to offer this guide as a helpful resource to aid you in making an informed decision when you vote this September.”

DOWNLOAD THE 16-PAGE PAMPHLET
OFFICIAL WEBSITEwww.ValueYourVote.nz

80% Opposition to Euthanasia An International Trend

By | Media Releases


Media Release 3 August 2017
Family First NZ says that the overwhelming 80% opposition to assisted suicide communicated to the Inquiry by the Health Select Committee is part of the reason why most overseas jurisdictions have also rightly rejected euthanasia laws.

An analysis of attempts in the USA to allow assisted suicide reveal an overwhelming failure rate associated with such legislation: fewer than 1% of all assisted suicide bills become law. Just this year, 46 bills to legalise assisted suicide in 27 states have been defeated, despite proponents of assisted suicide spending heavily. Between 2015-2017, legislation was also defeated in Scotland, United Kingdom, South Australia and Tasmania, with the only successes coming in Canada, and the three US states of California, Colorado and Washington, DC.

“The government report released yesterday revealing the level of opposition to euthanasia is no anomaly, and explains why a select committee comprising both proponents and opponents of assisted suicide could not endorse any change to the law. They understand that promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people, the disabled and elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The government report shares this concern, saying:
“Many submitters were concerned that if assisted dying was legalized, people would see death as an acceptable response to suffering. It would be difficult to say that some situations warranted ending one’s life while others do not. These submitters were concerned that while terminal illnesses would initially be the only scenario in which ending one’s life would be considered acceptable, this would quickly widen to include any degree of physical pain, then to include mental pain, and then in response to many other situations that arise throughout life…”

“…Several submitters suggested that, during their worst periods of depression, they would have opted for euthanasia had it been available in New Zealand.”

“This government report clearly highlights the need to move on from the current political push for assisted suicide, and to focus on what New Zealanders really need and want – a focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people, whether they are at the end of their life, or momentarily wishing they were at the end of their life.”
ENDS

Suicide Prevention Harmed by Euthanasia – Govt Report

By | Media Releases

EUTHANASIA depressed girlMedia Release 2 Aug 2017
A parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia has sounded a clear warning that changing the law on assisted suicide could be seen as normalising suicide, and an overwhelming 80% of submitters have rejected calls for euthanasia in this extensive and lengthy inquiry.

“At a time when the country is trying to reduce our horrendous suicide rates, this 49-page report sends a loud and clear message that assisted suicide fails the public safety test and will do more harm than good. Suicide is already a public health crisis. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Advocates of assisted suicide tried to suggest that suicide can be categorised as either “rational” or “irrational”. But the government report says:

“This distinction was not supported by any submitters working in the field of suicide prevention or grief counselling. On the contrary, we heard from youth counsellors and youth suicide prevention organisations that suicide is always undertaken in response to some form of suffering, whether that is physical, emotional, or mental.”

It was also pointed out by submitters that when the media cover assisted dying stories, they always accompany the story with suicide prevention contact details. Family First has previously warned that guidelines around the media reporting of suicides are being widely ignored in the reporting of recent instances of assisted suicide, with the subject’s decision to end his or her life frequently presented in the media as inspiring and even heroic, and the means of committing suicide being clearly spelt out.
“Promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people, the disabled and elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide,” says Mr McCoskrie.
The government report shares this concern, saying:

“Many submitters were concerned that if assisted dying was legalized, people would see death as an acceptable response to suffering. It would be difficult to say that some situations warranted ending one’s life while others do not. These submitters were concerned that while terminal illnesses would initially be the only scenario in which ending one’s life would be considered acceptable, this would quickly widen to include any degree of physical pain, then to include mental pain, and then in response to many other situations that arise throughout life…”

“Several submitters suggested that, during their worst periods of depression, they would have opted for euthanasia had it been available in New Zealand.”

“Promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people and elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“This government report clearly highlights the need to move on from the current political push for euthanasia, and to focus on what New Zealanders really need and want – a focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people, whether they are at the end of their life, or momentarily wishing they were at the end of their life.”
ENDS
READ Family First’s Submission to the Inquiry
READ Family First’s Oral Submission – “You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide”

Call for Guidelines on Euthanasia Media Reporting

By | Media Releases

Media Release 27 June 2017
Family First New Zealand has made a submission to the Strategy to prevent suicide in New Zealand calling on strict guidelines around the media reporting of assisted suicide & euthanasia.

In their submission, Family First has warned the Ministry of Health that the public debate over assisted suicide presents a serious risk to public health and safety because there is a ‘social contagion’ aspect to suicide – assisted or non-assisted – and that the discussion should be focused around suicide prevention.

Family First is also warning that guidelines around the media reporting of suicides are being widely ignored in the reporting of recent instances of assisted suicide, with the subject’s decision to end his or her life frequently presented in the media as inspiring and even heroic, and the means of committing suicide being clearly spelt out.

“You don’t discourage suicide by the promotion of assisted suicide. Suicide is already a public health crisis. This will just confuse the message to vulnerable people,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Many of us are concerned with the impact on elder suicide and youth suicide as a result of ‘normalising’ the concept of so-called ‘rational suicide’. There is a risk to young and to vulnerable people and to elderly people as a result of the current obsession in New Zealand with promoting assisted suicide / euthanasia. The reporting of cases related to this topic should be restrained and should come under the same restrictions as the reporting of any forms of suicide. A New Zealand Medical Journal report by New Zealand suicide researchers Annette Beautrais and David Fergusson says reporting on suicide in any way puts vulnerable people at risk.”

Commenting on Brittany Maynard’s suicide which has been a cause de celebre for euthanasia advocates, social scientist Dr. Aaron Kheriaty from the University of California argues that “given what we know about suicide’s social effects, and given the media portrayal around her death, we can anticipate that her decision will influence other vulnerable individuals.”

Family First is calling on the Ministry of Health to create and adopt strict guidelines around the media reporting of assisted suicide / euthanasia, to ensure that restrictions on reporting are in place to protect those who are already vulnerable. Reports of any forms of suicide can give vulnerable people “triggers or pictures” around potential methods.

“Promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people and elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide,” says Mr McCoskrie.
ENDS