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Euthanasia Survey Admits Its Own Unreliability

By | Media Releases

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

MPs Told “You Don’t Discourage Suicide by Assisting Suicide”

By | Media Releases

Media Release 2 Nov 2016
Family First New Zealand – one of the lead family organisations against assisted suicide and euthanasia – has presented their oral submission today to the Select Committee conducting the Investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand as a result of Maryan Street’s petition.

In their oral submission, National Director Bob McCoskrie has warned MPs that the Inquiry presents a serious risk to public health and safety because there is a ‘social contagion’ aspect to suicide – assisted or non-assisted – and that we need more discussion about suicide prevention.

“You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Suicide is already a public health crisis.”

KEY POINTS
This Inquiry presents a serious risk to public health and safety
• You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide
• Suicide is already a public health crisis
• There is a ‘social contagion’ aspect to suicide – assisted or non-assisted
• We need more discussion about suicide
prevention
• The 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
 

“Just a fortnight ago, Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall referred to NZ’s unacceptable and stubbornly high suicide rate and said that there needs to be more discussion, but discussion about suicide prevention. In complete contrast, this inquiry was initiated and is being driven by those who desire to promote assisted suicide.”

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.

“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 also says that a close examination of the suicide and attempted suicide rates during the years that previous bills promoting assisted suicide have been introduced and debated shows that for each occasion, there is a slight ‘peak’, going against the overall trend, and that it cannot be ruled out that the risk is directly related to the increased publicity given to the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“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.”
ENDS
READ Oral Submission
READ Written Submission
READ ”Protect” – A snapshot of the full issue

Police Correct To Investigate Promotion of Suicide

By | Media Releases

Media Release 27 October 2016
Family First NZ says that the police are absolutely correct to be investigating and shutting down 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. Vulnerable people are being exploited by his agenda and the police need to protect NZ’ers from him. The suicide prevention messages will be completely undermined if he is not stopped,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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. Australian Susan Potts was 89-years-old, fit, physically mobile, and by all accounts living a happy and enjoyable life; unencumbered by the illness and disease that plague many others her age. Nitscke met Susan before she died and admits to assisting her and ‘thousands’ of others to access the drug they need to kill themselves painlessly.

The Medical Board of Australia has imposed 25 strict conditions on Philip Nitschke, known as Doctor Death. The board believes he “presents a serious risk to public health and safety.”
“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 to be congratulated on exposing and removing this risk to vulnerable NZ’ers,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Nitschke’s promotion of euthanasia places 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.”
ENDS

Police Correct To Protect NZ’ers From Dr Death

By | Media Releases

Media Release 17 October 2016
Family First NZ says that the police are absolutely correct to be raiding and shutting down the operations of Philip Nitschke aka Dr Death in New Zealand.

“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. Vulnerable people are being exploited by his agenda and the police need to protect NZ’ers from him. The suicide prevention messages will be completely undermined if he is not stopped,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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. Australian Susan Potts was 89-years-old, fit, physically mobile, and by all accounts living a happy and enjoyable life; unencumbered by the illness and disease that plague many others her age. Nitscke met Susan before she died and admits to assisting her and ‘thousands’ of others to access the drug they need to kill themselves painlessly.

The Medical Board of Australia has imposed 25 strict conditions on Philip Nitschke, known as Doctor Death. The board believes he “presents a serious risk to public health and safety.”
“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 to be congratulated on exposing and removing this risk to vulnerable NZ’ers,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Nitschke’s promotion of euthanasia places 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.”
ENDS

Euthanasia ‘Slippery Slope’ Confirmed in Netherlands

By | Media Releases

Media Release 13 October 2016
Family First NZ says that the Netherlands has confirmed just how slippery the slope is relating to so-called safeguards around assisted suicide. The Dutch government has just announced that it intends to draft a law that would legalise assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life”, but are not necessarily terminally ill.

“Countries which have legalised euthanasia speak about stringent conditions and strict safeguards, but the reality is quite different from the rhetoric. There is a slippery slope, and the Belgium and now the Dutch experience is perfect evidence of this. There are no effective safeguards. The descent down the slippery slope is inevitable,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The Netherlands are simply following the trend in Belgium. A Belgium Senator admitted that during the debate on the passing of child euthanasia laws, euthanasia supporters talked about children with anorexia, mental illnesses, and children who were simply tired of life. Belgium is unable to control or prevent the abuse of the existing law. Now they have expanded it to impact children. A recent documentary in Belgium featured a doctor killing a healthy young woman who was struggling with mental illness.”

Professor Theo Boer was a member of the Dutch Regional Euthanasia Commission for nine years, during which he was involved in reviewing 4,000 cases. He admitted to being a strong supporter of euthanasia and argued that there was no slippery slope. However, by 2014 he had a complete change of mind, regretted that he had made a terrible mistake, and even warned the United Kingdom Medical Council against following the Dutch example.

“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’. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is unlikely to go back in again.” 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.”

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

Green’s ‘Assisted Suicide’ Policy Ignores Important Inquiry

By | Media Releases

Media Release 22 September 2016
Family First NZ is slamming a Green Party policy on euthanasia which has been released at the same time as a major inquiry on assisted suicide gets under way with representation on the select Committee from the Greens themselves.

“It is significant that while Green MP Kevin Hague says that there has been ‘political timidity’, the Greens won’t campaign on the issue. The country needs to have a robust honest debate about assisted suicide without the emotion of a parliamentary change in the mix, and 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.

“There are mixed messages when the Greens rightly wants to take a zero tolerance approach to suicide yet at the same time approve certain circumstances for a person to take their life. The risk of ‘suicide contagion’ associated with promoting euthanasia is also a real concern,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The Green Party policy raises concerns around issues of subjective definitions, risks to the elderly and vulnerable, and statements made around potential euthanasia for disabled persons.”

“New Zealand has a well-developed network of hospices, and palliative medicine is widely practiced with a standard of excellence, and the Greens would be better to focus on ensuring world class palliative care is available to all NZ’ers.”

“The Green Party should pull the plug on their policy and allow the conversation to happen in the Inquiry.”
ENDS

Submissions Say No To Assisted Suicide 3:1

By | Media Releases

euthanasia protect peopleMedia Release 12 Aug 2016
Family First NZ is welcoming an analysis of submissions made to the Inquiry on assisted suicide showing a 3:1 opposition to any change in the law, and is also calling on ACT MP David Seymour to withdraw his grandstanding bill so that the important conversation around end-of-life care can happen.

“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,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“We’re calling on David Seymour to kill his pre-emptive strike on this issue, withdraw his private members bill, and support the Inquiry to its completion. The country needs to have a robust honest debate about assisted suicide without the emotion of a law change in the mix, and examine whether so-called ‘safeguards’ deserve that label, whether coercion is subtle but real, whether patients will ask themselves why they are not availing themselves of assisted suicide, and whether our already-excellent palliative care regime can be improved in any way.”

“There are mixed messages when society rightly wants to take a zero tolerance approach to suicide yet at the same time attempts to approve a person taking their life. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a strong argument against assisted suicide. Overseas experience proves that the risk of abuse cannot be eliminated. The risk of ‘suicide contagion’ associated with a media campaign around promoting euthanasia is also a real concern,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“David Seymour should pull the plug on his private member’s bill and allow the conversation to happen.”
ENDS

Campaign Launched to Kill ‘Assisted Suicide’ Bill

By | Media Releases

Media Release 2 March 2016
Family First NZ will be immediately launching a campaign ‘Kill The Bill’ relating to ACT MP David Seymour’s bill to legalise assisted suicide because the bill is premature and will undermine the important and thorough Inquiry that is currently underway, and contains dangerous pitfalls that even supporters of euthanasia will struggle to explain away.

“The politicians should vote against David Seymour’s pre-emptive strike on this issue and ‘kill this bill’ at its first reading, and should support the Inquiry to its completion. The country needs to have a robust honest debate about assisted suicide without the emotion of a law change in the mix, and 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.

“David Seymour’s bill raises huge concerns around issues of subjective definitions, risks to the elderly and vulnerable, and even the allowance for non-terminal illnesses.”

“There are mixed messages when society rightly wants to take a zero tolerance approach to suicide yet at the same time attempts to approve a person taking their life. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a strong argument against assisted suicide. Overseas experience proves that the risk of abuse cannot be eliminated. The risk of ‘suicide contagion’ associated with a media campaign around promoting euthanasia is also a real concern,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Allowing assisted suicide 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 an early death because they don’t want to be a burden. This is not ‘autonomy’ or ‘choice’ or ‘dignified’.”

“We should provide the best care possible – but not kill,” says Mr McCoskrie. “New Zealand has a well-developed network of hospices and palliative medicine is widely practiced with a standard of excellence.”

Family First has been calling for improved provision of high quality palliative care and practical support to be made available in all areas of New Zealand. Patients facing death have a fundamental human right – a right to receive the very best palliative care, love and support that we can give to alleviate the ‘intolerable suffering’ that they fear. This is real death with dignity – surrounded and supported by loved ones, rather than a right to try and preempt the ‘uncertainty’ and timing of the end. Assisting suicide is not the answer.

“David Seymour should pull the plug on his private member’s bill and allow the conversation to happen.”
ENDS

Media Blasted For Bias In Euthanasia Debate

By | Media Releases

Media Release 16 November 2015
Family First NZ is welcoming a ruling by the Broadcasting Standards Authority that TVNZ’s Seven Sharp breached broadcasting standards in its recent coverage of the euthanasia issue. Seven Sharp featured the story of a terminally ill woman who was a long-standing voluntary euthanasia campaigner.
 
“This is not the first time that the state broadcaster has been scolded for bias in its coverage of controversial social issues, but it is a timely reminder that the media must report the facts and broadcast both points of view rather than pushing their own ideology. Unfortunately we had similar issues during the recent same-sex marriage debate,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

The BSA decision said that coverage of controversial issues should “present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest” and that this particular programme was “heavily weighted in support of voluntary euthanasia”.   
The BSA also highlighted that they had received numerous balance complaints in recent years about programmes “which promulgated the pro-euthanasia position” (including examples from Campbell Live), and they had “rarely, if at all, been pointed to evidence of the other view being put forward”.  
“The public should be able to trust the media to give fair and balanced coverage of important social issues and to give an even playing field to the robust debating of differing views. The BSA is right to reprimand TVNZ, but it is also a timely reminder to other media outlets,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“As we hold an important debate over assisted suicide, it is vital that NZ’ers are treated with respect and are allowed to make an informed decision based on all the facts and ideas rather than a viewpoint or ideology pushed by the media.” 

Previous examples:
A 2013 Broadcasting Standards Authority decision upheld a complaint from Pompallier Catholic College about a Close Up item based on a school newsletter objecting to the redefinition of marriage.    
In 2011, Broadcasting Standards Authority slammed TVNZ’s Sunday programme for misleading viewers on the success of abstinence programmes, and said ‘the broadcaster misinterpreted the research’. In a hard-hitting statement, the members said ‘We emphasise the importance of accuracy in news and current affairs programming and we consider that viewers were entitled to expect that Sunday, as a reputable current affairs programme, would impart reliable and accurate information’.”
ENDS

Euthanasia Bill Pre-Empts Important National Conversation

By | Media Releases

Media Release 14 October 2015
Family First NZ says that a private members bill by ACT MP David Seymour on euthanasia is premature, and pre-empts an important national conversation that is just getting under way regarding assisted suicide and the ending of one’s life.

“David Seymour should wait for the Inquiry that he supported to be completed. Rather than a flawed euthanasia bill which will contain the same pitfalls as Maryan Street’s earlier proposed bill, it makes absolute sense to debate euthanasia within the wider context of the premature ending of one’s life. There has always been a concern about conflicting messages being sent regarding euthanasia and suicide. There are mixed messages when society wants to approve a person taking their life but also take a zero tolerance approach to other suicides,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The country needs to have a robust honest debate about euthanasia without the emotion of a law change in the mix, and 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. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a strong argument against euthanasia. Overseas experience proves that the risk of abuse cannot be eliminated.”

“Allowing euthanasia could potentially institutionalise suicide as a method of coping with personal problems. The risk of ‘suicide contagion’ associated with a media campaign around promoting euthanasia is also a real concern,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“We would argue that the international evidence confirms that to allow assisted suicide 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 an early death because they don’t want to be a burden. This is not ‘autonomy’ or ‘choice’ or ‘dignified’.”

“Voluntary euthanasia has the allure of being an enlightened and compassionate response to the plight of the suffering, but its practical operation is fraught with risks and there are slippery slopes that are indeed very slippery. There will be an irreversible alteration to the way society and medical professionals view the demise of the elderly, the disabled, the incurably afflicted and the terminally ill. Death will be planned, coordinated and state-sanctioned in a manner hitherto unknown,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“David Seymour should put the brakes on his private members bill and allow the conversation to happen.”
ENDS