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Justice minister defends assisted dying bill from critics as Senate committee starts hearings

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National Post 24 November 2020
Family First Comment: Apparently, there is no slippery slope – or so we are told.
Better rethink that one!
“[Canada’s Justice Minister David] Lametti also said he hopes the medical assistance in dying (MAID) regime will eventually be further expanded to people who are suffering solely from mental illness”

Justice Minister David Lametti told a Senate committee on Monday that he’s heard the fierce criticism of the government’s new assisted dying bill, which expands the regime to include people who don’t have a terminal illness.

The critics include disability rights organizations, palliative care experts, and even Jody Wilson-Raybould — the former justice minister who introduced the original assisted dying bill in 2016.

But Lametti said he believes the government has found the right balance in respecting the dignity of people with disabilities, and also their right to end their life if their suffering is too great.

Lametti also said he hopes the medical assistance in dying (MAID) regime will eventually be further expanded to people who are suffering solely from mental illness, but the government doesn’t have enough time to do it before a court-ordered deadline of Dec. 18 for this bill to pass.

Bill C-7 was introduced in response to a Quebec Superior Court ruling that found the original law, passed in 2016, unconstitutionally restricted MAID to those whose death was “reasonably foreseeable” — in other words, to patients with a terminal illness.

The bill creates a new MAID eligibility requirement for people who are deeply suffering, but who are not expected to die from their illness.
READ MORE: https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/justice-minister-defends-assisted-dying-bill-from-critics-as-senate-committee-starts-hearings
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Catholic clergy say assisted dying runs against core values, Islamic leader threatens Muslims who choose it with Hell

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NewsHub 9 November 2020
Family First Comment: Significant concerns from the Muslim community
“A Facebook post by FIANZ in the lead-up to the referendum identifies nine concerns in regard to the End of Life Choice Act – including that it may disproportionately affect Kiwi Muslims, many of whom are refugees and comparatively poor. “In cases of severe illness where health care costs are high and carers are scarce, members of the community could request euthanasia out of guilt… as a way of relieving the society of their burden,” FIANZ President Ibrar Sheik writes. “Persons in our community who are in extreme pain and clouded by depression, shock and grief could make irrational decisions… not giving themselves time for possible recovery or coming to terms with their condition. “Passing this legislation will be tantamount to saying to our terminally ill and disabled that their lives are less valuable to society than the youthful.””

Many religious Kiwis oppose the End of Life Choice Act for ethical reasons, citing concerns with a perceived lack of reverence for life and its implications for our most vulnerable citizens, while others support it on the grounds it relieves suffering. For Catholics and Muslims, however, the response to the referendum result has been almost unequivocal, as both religions explicitly condemn assisted dying. The Catholic Church issued a ‘Declaration of Euthanasia’ in 1980, condemning the procedure as a crime against both life and God, while a recent letter written by the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog and endorsed by Pope Francis describes it as “intrinsically evil”. Meanwhile Islamic literature asserts that God decides how long each person lives, and explicitly prohibits planning or knowing one’s time of death in advance.

…’They will dwell in Hell forever’: Islamic leader says Qur’an is clear on euthanasia

One of New Zealand’s most senior Islamic leaders says while Muslims accept the referendum result, they’re disappointed in the country’s decision and will continue to oppose euthanasia. Mustafa Farouk, the executive of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), said Muslims have the right to choose euthanasia – but they shouldn’t expect to be honoured at death by their faith community if they do so. In Islam, there are many rituals at the time of death. The deceased is bathed and shrouded in cloth, before receiving the Ṣalāt al-Janāzah – a funeral prayer that seeks pardon for the dead. The body is then buried with the head facing Mecca. Farouk said there still remains an obligation to ensure the deceased is buried if they opt for assisted dying, but indicated they would forfeit an Islamic funeral by doing so, telling Newshub a lot of people simply “would not attend”. “The Qur’an is very clear that we cannot take life – not only take the life of someone, but we can’t even take our own life. If anybody takes their own life, they will dwell in Hell forever. There is no grey area there whatsoever,” he said.

…. A Facebook post by FIANZ in the lead-up to the referendum identifies nine concerns in regard to the End of Life Choice Act – including that it may disproportionately affect Kiwi Muslims, many of whom are refugees and comparatively poor. “In cases of severe illness where health care costs are high and carers are scarce, members of the community could request euthanasia out of guilt… as a way of relieving the society of their burden,” FIANZ President Ibrar Sheik writes. “Persons in our community who are in extreme pain and clouded by depression, shock and grief could make irrational decisions… not giving themselves time for possible recovery or coming to terms with their condition. “Passing this legislation will be tantamount to saying to our terminally ill and disabled that their lives are less valuable to society than the youthful.”

Other religions are split on whether euthanasia is to be avoided or embraced.
For many other Christian denominations – as well as for those who practice Hinduism, Judaism, Jainism or Shinto – there is no consensus on euthanasia.
Some Hindus believe helping end a painful life is a fulfilment of their moral obligation, while for others it’s seen as a disturbance of the natural separation of body and spirit and a threat to the cycle of reincarnation.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/11/euthanasia-referendum-catholic-clergy-say-assisted-dying-runs-against-core-values-islamic-leader-threatens-muslims-who-choose-it-with-hell.amp.html

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Referendum results live: NZ votes yes on euthanasia

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NZ Herald 30 October 2020
ACT leader David Seymour thanked MPs for supporting the End of Life Choice Bill through Parliament.

He also thanked Dame Jenny Gibbs for “giving me the courage as a young MP to pursue this cause”, Brooke van Velden for her work in rallying support in Parliament for the bill, and National MP Chris Bishop.

He said New Zealand would be “a kinder, more compassionate, more humane society – what a great day to be a Kiwi”.

David Seymour hosted an event at Parliament from 1pm that heard from Shirley Seales and, via Skype from New York, Matt Vickers – the mother and widowed husband of euthanasia campaigner Lecretia Seales.

Shirley Seales gave an emotional speech acknowledging her daughter’s legacy.

“I’m sure [Lecretia] would never have imagined that she would still be acknowledged for the part she has played. She would be very humbled and I know she would want others acknowledged.”

She paid tribute to Matt Vickers, several lawyers who advocated for the cause, and MPs including Seymour, Maryan Street and Michael Laws.

She said it had been “particularly upsetting to hear lies about Lecretia throughout the campaign”.

“I have been tempted to respond, but my greatest reward will be a majority vote. We are extremely proud of Lecretia, and I’m sure she is smiling down on us all.”

Today’s result marks the end of the five-year journey for Seymour since he first put the End of Life Choice Bill in the ballot.

The referendum is binding and the majority “yes” vote will see it become law, with terminal patients able to request assisted dying from November 6 next year.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/politics/referendum-results-live-nz-votes-yes-on-euthanasia-no-on-cannabis-legalisation/LBKXYT2QB5IZLLCZJ7EVM6D4SY/

‘The devil is in the detail’: Salvation Army concerned over loopholes in euthanasia legislation
Radio NZ News 31 October 2020
Vulnerable at risk
Family First say the success of the assisted dying bill will put some vulnerable people at risk. Spokesperson Bob McCoskrie said support for the law change lowered as the debate went on.

He said many people did not realise there is an amount of choice people have in their latter days, such as turning off life support, refusing treatment, upping pain management, and do -not-resuscitate orders.

Meanwhile, a top QC said the law legalising euthanasia is shrouded in so much secrecy it will be difficult to know if anyone has been pressured into ending their life.

Auckland barrister Grant Illingworth said two doctors must sign off on someone’s request to die, but there is no requirement for them to ensure that the person has not been pressured.

“The processes under the act are shrouded in confidentiality and secrecy so nobody is ever really going to know whether people have been bullied or pressured or whether something has gone wrong in the process.

“It’s a confidential process, it’s surrounded by secrecy so how do we know?”

He said the regulations fail to require doctors to satisfy themselves there’s no coercion of a patient.

The chair of Risky Law New Zealand said the law will compromise the capacity of doctors to show undivided care and compassion to patients.

Dr Peter Thirkell said the lack of safeguards remains a big concern, particularly where patients already feel a burden to others.

The group is calling on the government to fully fund palliative and hospice services so that intentionally killing some people in vulnerable circumstances becomes unnecessary.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/429542/the-devil-is-in-the-detail-salvation-army-concerned-over-loopholes-in-euthanasia-legislation

Referendum results: ‘Sad and dangerous’ day, say opponents to End of Life Choice Act
Stuff co.nz 30 October 2020
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said some would be euthanised without a definitive prognosis. Others would request “assisted suicide” as a result of coercion, or because they could not afford treatment.

“Others will be struggling because of a terminal disease prognosis and actually just need appropriate support.

“This law now means that vulnerable people facing a terminal illness will be asking themselves – why should I not be accessing euthanasia?”

Opponents to the Act said there were already calls for it to be extended from pro-euthanasia advocates.

Many New Zealanders did not understand what they were voting for, and the outcome was based on misinformation and confusion, Euthanasia-Free NZ spokesman Renee Joubert said.

Polling during the voting period showed 80 per cent of New Zealand adults misunderstood what the End of Life Choice Act would legalise.

Only 20 per cent of respondents understood the Act would not make it legal to turn off machines that were keeping people alive – that was already legal.

“It’s disappointing that the New Zealand public were generally uninformed about the details of the End of Life Choice Act.”

Joubert said the group would continue to lobby against any extension to the law.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/123245906/referendum-results-sad-and-dangerous-day-say-opponents-to-end-of-life-choice-act

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Huhana Hickey: I’m pro-choice – but I oppose the End of Life Choice Act.

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Where are the safeguards for Māori and the disabled in end of life law?
Stuff co.nz 1 November 2020
Family First Comment: I am a disabled Māori woman who lives with pain 24/7. That pain will progressively increase as I live on, and so I am very aware of the disparities that exist in our health and disability system.
I am also aware of how poverty and a lack of access to good medical interventions, such as the expensive cost of accessing medicinal cannabis, thanks to an inept Pharmac, lead to choices of desperation rather than a choice of free will.

OPINION: In 12 months assisted dying will be legal as, unsurprisingly, the mainstream demographic has predictably spoken with a 65.2 per cent yes vote in the preliminary results.

Congratulations to those who have had their wish granted and commiserations to those who haven’t. Whilst I am myself pro-choice, I remain opposed to this law for two reasons – those being the risk to indigenous people and the disabled, as evidenced by international research in countries where it is legal.

I am a disabled Māori woman who lives with pain 24/7. That pain will progressively increase as I live on, and so I am very aware of the disparities that exist in our health and disability system.

I am also aware of how poverty and a lack of access to good medical interventions, such as the expensive cost of accessing medicinal cannabis, thanks to an inept Pharmac, lead to choices of desperation rather than a choice of free will.

There are also issues with defining terminal and many, it seems, wrongly assume disabled won’t be affected without realising many disabilities by their very nature are terminal.

Therefore, trying to stop the voices of our disabled has led to some incorrect assumptions and misunderstanding as to why many of us have spoken out against THIS particular act.

It is poorly drafted and lacks safety mechanisms.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/300146508/where-are-the-safeguards-for-mori-and-the-disabled-in-end-of-life-law?cid=app-iPhone

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Health-care costs in Canada dropped after assisted dying became legal

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Global News 20 October 2020
Family First Comment: A dangerous and flawed report from Canada where euthanasia has been legal since 2016…
“Many studies have shown that health-care costs in the last year of life, and especially the last month, are “disproportionately high,” the PBO report stated. The costs represent between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of total health-care costs despite those patients representing about one per cent of the population.” 🤢

Since Canada’s law on medical assistance in dying came into effect more than four years ago, health-care costs have dropped millions of dollars, according to a Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) report released Tuesday.

The report on assisted dying said since becoming legal on June 17, 2016, Canada’s health-care costs have dropped $86.9 million.

Many studies have shown that health-care costs in the last year of life, and especially the last month, are “disproportionately high,” the PBO report stated. The costs represent between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of total health-care costs despite those patients representing about one per cent of the population.

The report emphasized that the numbers should “in no way be interpreted” as suggesting assisted dying be used to reduce health-care costs.

The PBO report added that access to medically assisted dying will result in a reduction in health-care costs for provinces. But the reduction “represents a negligible portion” of the health-care budges of provinces.
READ MORE: https://globalnews.ca/news/7407627/health-care-costs-canada-assisted-dying/
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Would legal assisted dying add to our dire suicide figures?

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Stuff co.nz 15 October 2020
Family First Comment: Disturbing…
“In the early stages of the End of Life Choice debate in Parliament, I noticed something shocking: the young people I was working with were rehearsing the very-same arguments used by those supporting euthanasia – autonomy, dignity and compassion – and applying them to their own situations. Not much later, I noticed that the methods published in various End of Life Choice websites and print publications came up in a discussion with a client I was working with and who later attempted to end their own life. In my mind, I understand that assisted dying and suicide can, in principle, be distinguished from each other. That point is often made. But my real-life experience, and that of others in the field of mental health support, is that there is a huge potential for what the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has called “overlap cases”. Any theoretical bright line between the two disappears at the coal-face.”

OPINION: My interest in the question of assisted dying began as a hands-on mental health practitioner working to dissuade young New Zealanders from committing suicide.

In my experience, when people feel their lives are not worth living, they reach for many and varied rationalisations. The work I do to support suicidal people is not so much a work of persuasion but more about accompanying them out of their existential distress, incrementally, day by day. This requires a delicate balance of risk and trust.

We work together to recognise situations that trigger hopelessness and create strategies to counter these until people feel that ending one’s own life is no longer considered the best solution to their complex problems.

In the early stages of the End of Life Choice debate in Parliament, I noticed something shocking: the young people I was working with were rehearsing the very-same arguments used by those supporting euthanasia – autonomy, dignity and compassion – and applying them to their own situations.

Not much later, I noticed that the methods published in various End of Life Choice websites and print publications came up in a discussion with a client I was working with and who later attempted to end their own life.

In my mind, I understand that assisted dying and suicide can, in principle, be distinguished from each other. That point is often made. But my real-life experience, and that of others in the field of mental health support, is that there is a huge potential for what the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has called “overlap cases”.

Any theoretical bright line between the two disappears at the coal-face.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/123070527/would-legal-assisted-dying-add-to-our-dire-suicide-figures

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Euthanasia referendum: Disabled New Zealanders concerned about assisted dying Act

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Stuff co.nz 15 October 2020
Family First Comment: “there is no ‘bright-line’ test to clearly distinguish disability and terminal illness, and states the claim disabled people are prevented from accessing the regime as it is worded is incorrect.”

Some disabled New Zealanders fear they will be at risk if assisted dying or euthanasia is legalised.

On October 17, New Zealanders will vote in a binding referendum on whether the End of Life Choice Act should come into force as law, allowing terminally ill adults to request assisted dying.

Under the Act, a person must have a terminal illness likely to end their life within six months – those with mental illness, disability or advanced age do not qualify on those grounds alone.

However, some Kiwis with disabilities say there is no clear distinction between their conditions and terminal illness, putting them at risk. Meanwhile, others say the framing of disabled people as being exposed to greater risk is “patronising”.

Proponents of the Act say excluding advanced age, mental illness and disability protects these groups, and the law is clearly for people suffering greatly at the end of life, not for those with disabilities.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/300118864/euthanasia-referendum-disabled-new-zealanders-concerned-about-assisted-dying-act
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Netherlands backs euthanasia for terminally ill children under-12

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BBC News 14 October 2020
Family First Comment: When they argue that there is no slippery slope, ignore them. They’re either unaware or lying.

The Dutch government has approved plans to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children aged between one and 12.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said the rule change would prevent some children from “suffering hopelessly and unbearably”.

Euthanasia is currently legal in the Netherlands for children older than 12, with mandatory consent from the patient and their parents.

It is also legal for babies up to a year old with parental consent.

But there is no provision for those aged between one and 12 who are terminally ill.

The issue has proven extremely controversial and has triggered months of debate in the four-party ruling coalition government. There has also been strong opposition from conservative Christian parties.

But, following the government’s approval of the plans, Mr de Jonge said he would draft new regulations for the practice. He said a study by experts had noted a need for the rule change.

In 2014, Belgium became the first country to allow for voluntary child euthanasia if they are terminally ill and in great pain and if they have parental consent. The Netherlands introduced the same rule for children over the age of 12 shortly afterwards.
READ MORE: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54538288

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Concern End of Life Choice Act created by middle class Pākehā to the detriment of Māori

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Stuff co.nz 15 October 2020
Family First Comment: Good coverage here….
“Māori, like other communities, do not have a singular view about the End of Life Choice referendum. Tikanga used to inform the actions of Māori differs between whānau, hapū and iwi. But there is consensus the referendum has a Pākehā worldview about dying and could negatively impact on Māori.

Māori, like other communities, do not have a singular view about the End of Life Choice referendum. Tikanga used to inform the actions of Māori differs between whānau, hapū and iwi. But there is consensus the referendum has a Pākehā worldview about dying and could negatively impact on Māori. Carmen Parahi reports.

“If we could go back to that period of time I would end my mum’s life,” says Manurewa Marae chairman Rangi McLean.

He still remembers the pain his mum Roka suffered when she was terminally ill with breast cancer 40 years ago. She wanted to die, says McLean, but his father listened to the advice of the doctor to prolong her life.

“It got to a point where I said to my father, let’s let her go,” says McLean. “When I saw her suffer and cry out she wanted to go, tears welled up in my eyes.”

Roka eventually passed away from the cancer. Her screams of pain when the morphine wore off still haunt McLean today. He’s watched his mum, six aunties and older sister all die from breast cancer.

McLean has already voted yes to the End of Life Choice Act referendum.

McLean is the Māori Party’s Vice President Tāne and his “Yes” tick goes against his party’s stance to vote no to euthanasia. McLean is unapologetic, saying he is Ngāi Tūhoe and has his own mana motuhake or authority to decide.

The Māori Party signalled it would not support the referendum and has actively campaigned against it. Co-leader John Tamihere called it a “kill the Māori bill” during a live online debate on The Hui last month. Tamihere says there needs to be greater protections around the Act for Māori and their whānau.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/pou-tiaki/300131423/euthanasia-referendum-concern-end-of-life-choice-act-created-by-middle-class-pkeh-to-the-detriment-of-mori

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Euthanasia referendum – End of Life Choice Act is ‘unsafe, uncaring, unkind’

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Pacific Media Network 12 October 2020
Family First Comment: Ahdar believes over time this act could get broadened with input from organisations such as the human rights movement or whoever sees fit. “The elderly are very much in the gun. And the most vulnerable are the poor, the handicapped and people with disabilities, the mentally ill and depressed,” he says.

Pacific community and faith based leaders who condemn the End of Life Choice Act say it sets a dangerous precedent.

The contentious act, gives people with a terminal illness the option of assisted dying.

To be able to ask for assisted dying, a person must meet all the following criteria. They must:

  • be aged 18 years or over
  • be a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand
  • suffer from a terminal illness that’s likely to end their life within 6 months
  • have significant and ongoing decline in physical capability
  • experience unbearable suffering that cannot be eased
  • be able to make an informed decision about assisted dying.

But University of Otago Law Faculty professor Rex Tauati Ahdar describes the act as “therapeutic killing”.

He says it is not well drafted and the slippery side of the act is the psychological side.

“Once we become accustomed to the idea of voluntarily ending life, it becomes easier for society to take further steps to end the lives of those who feel life is not worth living or deserve dignity.”

Professor Ahdar says the intention of assisting someone to commit suicide is a serious offence that can lead to a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.

“That section of the law is going to be repealed or nullified when this act comes into effect.

“The coercion around people, and the pressure they put on themselves, what can remove a patient’s thought from subjecting to it? There’s no part there to protect patients from feeling pressured.”
READ MORE: https://pacificmedianetwork.com/articles/euthanasia-referendum-end-of-life-choice-act-is-unsafe-uncaring-unkind?fbclid=IwAR3pqifHCFckFsSDi2xQfVF4y2u2xCr3frchRslNyeH88tATJXQsTEYl3xI
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