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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

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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

Claim Of ‘Religious’ Opposition To Euthanasia Debunked

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Media Release 10 June 2017
Family First NZ says that a full analysis of submissions made to the Inquiry on assisted suicide by the Care Alliance shows 77% opposition to any change in the law, but also conclusively rebuts the claims made by ACT MP David Seymour and other supporters of assisted suicide that opposition to euthanasia is driven by ‘religious’ people only.

13,539 (82%) of the 16,411 submissions opposed to euthanasia contained no reference to religious arguments, while 1,535 used some, and just 1,337 relied mainly on religious arguments. Ironically, 208 submissions referred to religious reasoning in supporting euthanasia.

“David Seymour is quick to demand the removal of blasphemy laws, but perhaps his real focus should be on getting his own facts straight and examining the real reasons for widespread opposition to assisted suicide,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This includes the disability sector, senior citizens, human rights advocates, and concerns that poor people who don’t have access to better healthcare could feel pressured to end their lives.”

“It is ironic that ex-MP Maryan street implied that a record 22,000 responses to her petition meant that it is time to legalise euthanasia. In fact, the message is clearly the exact opposite. New Zealanders want a conversation – but they are opposed to assisted suicide as the solution.”

“David Seymour should pull the plug on his private member’s bill so that the important conversation around end-of-life care can happen.”
ENDS

Campaign Launched to Kill ACT’s Assisted Suicide Bill

By | Media Releases

Media Release 8 June 2017
Family First NZ will immediately be launching a major campaign to oppose the ACT MP David Seymour’s Private Members Bill to legalise euthanasia.

“The country is currently having an extensive inquiry into the issue of ending one’s life in New Zealand. This needs to be a robust honest debate about assisted suicide without the emotion of a parliamentary law change in the mix, and should examine whether so-called ‘safeguards’ deserve that label, whether coercion is subtle but real, and whether patients will ask themselves why they are not availing themselves of assisted suicide,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“It is telling that ACT MP David Seymour is offering yet another attempt alongside Louisa Wall’s and Sir Geoffrey Palmers’ similar attempts to mitigate the real concerns around safeguards,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“This ACT MP bill raises massive concerns around issues of subjective definitions, risks to the elderly and vulnerable, and statements made around potential euthanasia for disabled persons.”

“One of the main reasons that politicians in NZ have rejected previous attempts to decriminalise euthanasia is that they realised that the 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,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The international evidence backs up these concerns, and explains why so few countries have made any changes to the law around this issue. We simply need to ensure a palliative care regime in NZ that is fully funded and world class. That’s where the politicians’ focus should be.”

In 2017 alone, assisted suicide bills have been stopped or defeated in Maine, Tasmania, Hawaii, Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Maryland while in several other states, assisted suicide bills were introduced but lacked support to even be debated.

“The politicians need to immediately and quickly pull the plug on this flawed and dangerous bill.”
ENDS

Promotion & Enabling of Suicide Always A Crime

By | Media Releases

Media Release 12 May 2017
Family First NZ says that it is disturbing that a group is campaigning for a woman charged with importing a drug linked to euthanasia and charged with assisting suicide.

“The police are absolutely correct to be investigating, shutting down and prosecuting the promotion of suicide in New Zealand, and especially the 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. Just last week, 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,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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.

A Wellington woman ended her life with Nembutal in 2008, 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.  

“Nitschke defends the right of someone to take their own life, even when fit and healthy. New Zealanders reject this destructive message and the police are right to be prosecuting and investigating groups in order to remove this risk to vulnerable NZ’ers,” says Mr McCoskrie.
ENDS

Euthanasia ‘Elephant In The Room’ – Healthcare Costs

By | Media Releases

Media Release 21 March 2017
Family First NZ says that the example of a cancer patient being turned away because of her potential healthcare costs is a disturbing development which will only be exacerbated by allowing euthanasia in to our laws. The woman with terminal cancer was told by medical staff the hospital would rather spend its money on people they could actually help.

“One of the disturbing underlying justifications for euthanasia is that euthanasia could result in valuable savings in public healthcare and geriatric services expenditure. A large amount of the public purse is spent on healthcare for the dying, those with dementia and the elderly. Euthanasia is cheap; good palliative care and hospice services expensive. Bureaucrats are always
looking for the cheapest ways to spend health care budgets. This is a disturbing development, perhaps unintentional, but a real risk,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This harsh argument from economics is seldom, if ever, heard from advocates for euthanasia, but it is arguably the ‘elephant in the room’ in the debate.”

As stated in a 2013 paper in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, the cold, fiscal reality is that “End of life care is expensive and having citizens opt for an earlier death is associated with substantial government savings”.[1]
Dr Rex Ahdar, the author of Family First’s 2014 report “Killing Me Softly: Should Euthanasia Be Legalised?”, warned that;

if assisted suicide or euthanasia were permitted, “many might resort to it to spare their families the substantial financial burden of end-of-life healthcare costs”. So wrote the US Supreme Court (Glucksberg at 732)[2]. But this point is just as valid in New Zealand and not just the hyper-expensive American healthcare system. Elderly and ailing patients are all too aware that their increasingly expensive rest home and geriatric care is steadily dissipating the inheritance that awaits their children. Sadly, the more unscrupulous and callous offspring would not be slow in pointing this out either.

“The case highlighted today proves that this risk is a real threat, and yet another reason to kill any euthanasia bill.”
ENDS

[1] Mishara, Brian L and David N Weistubb (2013) “Premises and evidence in the rhetoric of assisted suicide and euthanasia” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 26: 427-435
[2] Washington vs. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702

Euthanasia Survey Admits Its Own Unreliability

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Media Release 13 January 2017
Family First NZ is labelling a University of Auckland survey on attitudes to euthanasia as a weak incomplete survey with the authors drawing dubious conclusions by their own admission.
 
“This survey “Demographic and psychological correlates of New Zealanders support for euthanasia” should be ‘dead in the water’. It suggests support for euthanasia, but then by its own admission acknowledges that its results only measure attitudes in one particular scenario – and that scenario may no longer be valid,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This survey adds nothing to the debate and simply challenges polling companies to work harder to find out attitudes to euthanasia when the full smorgasbord of options and outcomes are presented along with the potential risks they present to society. As this study admits, the “findings do not represent peoples’ support for the concept of euthanasia per se.” Those relying on it cannot do so with confidence.”

“It also appears to measure attitudes from as far back as 2009 – but there has been a lot of debate and education of the risks of euthanasia since that time, and significant increases in the availability and effectiveness of palliative care,” says Mr McCoskrie.

It says
“..we measured support for euthanasia using the single item “Suppose a person has a painful incurable disease. Do you think that doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life if the patient requests it?” This item has been used previously in the British Social Attitudes Survey and assesses levels of support versus opposition to euthanasia as a general concept only. As such, our results do not provide information about potentially more nuanced differences in support for euthanasia in different contexts and for different types of illnesses. For example, previous studies using vignettes have found that people tend to exhibit differing levels of support depending on the subject, type of illness and voluntariness of euthanasia.” (our emphasis added) 
And
“It is also important to note that, due to the improvement in palliative care and pain-management in Western countries, most patients today should die without physical pain. As a result of effective palliative care, the avoidance of physical pain may no longer be the central motivation for desiring euthanasia. Moreover, patients’ definition of ‘unbearable suffering’ and reasons for requesting euthanasia now revolve around psycho-emotional and existential factors such as feelings of meaninglessness, loss of self and being a burden on others. The question used in our study included the term ‘painful’ but did not mention any psychological factors associated with desires for euthanasia. This raises the possibility that our findings do not represent peoples’ support for the concept of euthanasia per se, but instead, support for assisted death in the face of severe physical pain.” (our emphasis added)

“The truth is that to legalise assisted suicide / euthanasia would place large numbers of vulnerable people at risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, sick, disabled, those experiencing chronic illness, limited access to good medical care, and those who feel themselves to be under emotional or financial pressure to request early death. Patients will come to feel euthanasia would be ‘the right thing to do’, they have ‘had a good innings’, and they do not want to be a ‘burden’,” says Mr McCoskrie.

As American lawyer and author Wesley J Smith says, once killing is seen as an appropriate answer in a few cases, the ground quickly gives way, and it becomes the answer in many cases. 
It is also noted that Auckland University has previously been under fire for euthanasia research, conducted by Dr Phillipa Malpas and Dr Pam Oliver, which was the subject of complaints to the University of Auckland’s Human Participants Ethics Committee.

Family First is calling on ACT’s David Seymour to focus on providing a palliative care regime in New Zealand that is fully funded and world class and is a clear alternative to assisted suicide – and not to remove the protection for vulnerable people, including children.
ENDS