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Wendi Wicks: New Zealand’s euthanasia bill is a step into the unknown for disabled people

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The Guardian 14 November 2019
Family First Comment: Well said, Wendi
“The bill cannot and does not make firm distinctions between personal illness and disability or between terminal illness and chronic conditions, or between terminal illness and depression or other mental illness. It relies on prognosis and diagnosis, which are imprecise arts. It doesn’t protect against coercion, competency or consent abuses. It doesn’t allow for a cooling-down period like Oregon or Victoria have. Safeguards are vague and lax. Worse still, there’s a sense that a certain level of wrongful death is acceptable.”
#protect

Disabled people need to feel safe and this legislation leaves grey areas between terminal illness and chronic conditions

On Wednesday night, New Zealand MPs voted to adopt the end of life choice bill despite any number of warnings that it is a dangerous piece of work. It is risky to disabled people and unsafe to all.

In 2016, Canada passed euthanasia legislation and a consortium of appalled disabled Canadians fought a desperate rearguard action to bring in a vulnerable person’s standard (VPS). We’d not need that sort of thing, I thought. Clearly I was complacent. Disabled Australians, Canadians and Americans are appalled at euthanasia bills while British, Irish and Scots are incandescent.

I feel betrayed by Parliament’s vote. Do we need something like a VPS here, for disabled New Zealanders I wonder?

Now all that stands between us and this bill is a referendum scheduled to coincide with our next general election, in 2020. Then there may be no way for the community of disabled people like me (25% of New Zealand’s population), to feel safe from wrongful death.

The law creates a risk to individuals in our community of disabled people and to our community as a whole. How can any MP be able to agree to a measure that endangers a whole community that they are not a member of? Our legislative safeguards have stepped into the shadows and too many MPs think that’s an acceptable trade-off. A friendly QC commented on my vulnerability to the law thus: “You’re toast.” Me and how many other disabled people?

Our concerns about the bill are many. They include that the bill cannot and does not make firm distinctions between personal illness and disability or between terminal illness and chronic conditions, or between terminal illness and depression or other mental illness. It relies on prognosis and diagnosis, which are imprecise arts. It doesn’t protect against coercion, competency or consent abuses.

It doesn’t allow for a cooling-down period like Oregon or Victoria have. Safeguards are vague and lax. Worse still, there’s a sense that a certain level of wrongful death is acceptable.
READ MORE: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/14/new-zealands-euthanasia-bill-is-a-step-into-the-unknown-for-disabled-people

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Assisted Suicide / Euthanasia – How they voted (3rd Reading)

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The Campaign To PROTECT has now been launched.

The 3rd and final reading of the assisted suicide / euthanasia bill happened last night. The only way the liberals were able to get the bill ‘across the line’ was to offer a referendum – a tool that normally they want nothing to do with (remember the anti-smacking 87% referendum?). That’s how weak this bill is.

The so-called ‘safeguards’ – many of which were not even allowed to be debated – will not guarantee the protection required for vulnerable people.

We need to apply the precautionary principle: the higher the risk – the higher the burden of proof on those proposing liberalisation of the law. But the risk of abuse simply cannot be eliminated. How many euthanasia ‘mistakes’ are we willing to accept? We say NONE.

That’s why we will be strongly and vigorously promoting a NO vote in the referendum at the end of next year. 



How they voted…..

NATIONAL MPs:

Voted Against Euthanasia:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Maggie Barry, Andrew Bayly, David Bennett, Dan Bidois, Simon Bridges, Simeon Brown, Gerry Brownlee, David Carter, Jacqui Dean, Sarah Dowie, Paulo Garcia, Paul Goldsmith, Nathan Guy, Jo Hayes, Harete Hipango, Denise Lee, Melissa Lee, Agnes Loheni, Tim Macindoe, Todd McClay, Ian McKelvie, Todd Muller, Alfred Ngaro, Simon O’Connor, Parmjeet Parmar, Chris Penk, Maureen Pugh, Shane Reti, Alastair Scott, Nick Smith, Anne Tolley, Louise Upston, Nicky Wagner, Hamish Walker, Michael Woodhouse, Jonathan Young, Lawrence Yule  (38)


Voted For Euthanasia
:

Amy Adams, Paula Bennett, Chris Bishop, Judith Collins, Matt Doocey, Andrew Falloon, Brett Hudson, Nikki Kaye, Matt King, Barbara Kuriger, Mark Mitchell, Scott Simpson, Stuart Smith, Erica Stanford, Tim van de Molen, Nicola Willis, Jian Yang (17)
LABOUR: 

Voted Against Euthanasia:

David Clark, Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki, Damien O’Connor, Adrian Rurawhe, Deborah Russell, Jenny Salesa, Aupito Tofe Sua William Sio, Jamie Strange, Rino Tirikatene, Phil Twyford, Meka Whaitiri, Michael Wood, Poto Williams (13)

 

Voted For Euthanasia:

Kiri Allan, Ginny Andersen, Jacinda Ardern, Tamati Coffey, Liz Craig, Clare Curran, Kelvin Davis, Ruth Dyson, Paul Eagle, Kris Faafoi, Peeni Henare, Chris Hipkins, Raymond Huo, Willie Jackson, Iain Lees-Galloway, Andrew Little, Marja Lubeck, Jo Luxton, Nanaia Mahuta, Trevor Mallard, Kieran McAnulty, Stuart Nash, Greg O’Connor, David Parker, Willow-Jean Prime, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Grant Robertson, Carmel Sepuloni, Jan Tinetti, Louisa Wall, Angie Warren-Clark, Duncan Webb, Megan Woods (33)
NZ FIRST MPs: 

Voted For Euthanasia:

Darroch Ball, Shane Jones, Jenny Marcroft, Ron Mark, Tracey Martin, Clayton Mitchell, Mark Patterson, Winston Peters, Fletcher Tabuteau (all 9 MPs)
GREEN MPs: 

Voted For Euthanasia:

Marama Davidson, Julie Anne Genter, Golriz Ghahraman, Gareth Hughes, Jan Logie, Eugenie Sage, James Shaw, Chloe Swarbrick (all 8 MPs)
OTHER: 
David Seymour / Jami-Lee Ross

Why I oppose the End of Life Choice Bill, in plain English

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Stuff co.nz 13 November 2019
Family First Comment: A superb summation of why politicians should vote NO to assisted suicide.
But are they listening?
1 No protection from coercion
2 Broader than other o/s legislation
3 Given our suicide epidemic, this is too risky
4 Weak review system
5 Will reduce end of life care – esp to low income

OPINION: Later today, our MPs will cast their final vote on the End of Life Choice Bill. It all comes down to deciding whether the bill, with its changes, will ultimately deliver what it says.

My position on euthanasia is well known. I have spoken many times about why I am opposed in principle. But to my former colleagues I say, even if you agree in principle, this is not the bill to deliver euthanasia and assisted suicide to New Zealanders.

This bill, if it passes, will make New Zealand a less safe place for the old, the vulnerable, the depressed and the disabled, and here are five reasons why.

Firstly, it does not provide real protection from coercion. Talk to any doctor and they will tell you it is virtually impossible to detect subtle emotional coercion, and even overt coercion, at the best of times. Yet many people will be “signed off” by medical practitioners with little or no understanding of the patient’s family or social history, let alone medical history. The law requires doctors only to “do their best” – hardly an adequate measure of robust clinical care standards.

Secondly, I know that many MPs will be finely tuned to the “hard cases”. However, for all the talk about narrowing the legislation down, this bill is much broader than the new Victorian law, as well as those states in the United States where only assisted suicide is available. We know that, when euthanasia is included, the numbers accessing it are at least 10 times greater. This bill is “overkill” – if the argument was really about the hard cases, then it would be a much tighter bill.

Thirdly, there is the contentious and vexed question of the relationship between suicide rates and assisted dying. As 21 mental health practitioners and academics recently argued, there is mounting statistical evidence from Oregon, Belgium and the Netherlands to suggest that, as the numbers using assisted dying rise, so too do suicide rates. The onus is on David Seymour and the likes to prove it is safe, and he cannot do this. Until then, given our suicide epidemic, sensible and caring thinking says it is too risky to proceed.

Fourthly, the review system does not include access to patient records, as is the case in the Netherlands. So it is a much weaker law in that regard. Even then, after nearly 20 years, up to 23 per cent of euthanasia deaths are not being reported there. We can only guess what it would be like here with a less robust system.

Fifthly, there is growing evidence from Canada and the US that people are choosing euthanasia or assisted suicide because of a lack of access to proper end-of-life care – in other words because of a lack of real choice. To me that is unacceptable, especially when it is most likely to affect people in lower socio-economic areas. No-one can rightly claim that as a compassionate choice.

Five reasons why this bill will not deliver compassion. Five reasons to vote “No”.

* Former prime minister Sir Bill English has opposed the End of Life Choice Bill since its first reading.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/117361324/why-i-oppose-the-end-of-life-choice-bill-in-plain-english

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World Medical Association Reaffirms Opposition To Euthanasia And Physician-Assisted Suicide

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World Medical Association 26 October 2019
Family First Comment: ‘The WMA reiterates its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics and that utmost respect has to be maintained for human life. Therefore, the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide… No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, nor should any physician be obliged to make referral decisions to this end.’

The World Medical Association has reaffirmed its long-standing policy of opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

After an intensive process of consultation with physicians and non physicians around the world, the WMA at its annual Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, adopted a revised Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.

This states: ‘The WMA reiterates its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics and that utmost respect has to be maintained for human life. Therefore, the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.’

It adds: ‘No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, nor should any physician be obliged to make referral decisions to this end.’

The Declaration says: ‘Separately, the physician who respects the basic right of the patient to decline medical treatment does not act unethically in forgoing or withholding unwanted care, even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.’

The revised Declaration defines euthanasia as ‘a physician deliberately administering a lethal substance or carrying out an intervention to cause the death of a patient with decision-making capacity at the patient’s own voluntary request.’

It says that physician-assisted suicide ‘refers to cases in which, at the voluntary request of a patient with decision-making capacity, a physician deliberately enables a patient to end his or her own life by prescribing or providing medical substances with the intent to bring about death.’

WMA Chair Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery said: ‘Having held consultative conferences involving every continent in the world, we believe that this revised wording is in accord with the views of most physicians worldwide.’
https://www.wma.net/news-post/world-medical-association-reaffirms-opposition-to-euthanasia-and-physician-assisted-suicide/
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What Labour will worry about with a euthanasia referendum

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Stuff co.nz 21 October 2019|
Family First Comment: “Conservative lobby groups such as Family First already have plenty to do campaigning against abortion law reform and the cannabis referendum pinned to go with the 2020 election. Add in a referendum on euthanasia and there would be quite a cocktail of policies to campaign and fundraise with. 
The Government would be coming for your babies, your grandma, and to give your kids legal weed.” 
That’s a great slogan!! Thanks guys 👍😄

ANALYSIS: The prime minister has said several times that she doesn’t think there should be a referendum on euthanasia.

But she could well vote for one on Wednesday. Here’s why.

Jacinda Ardern has supported the End of Life Choice Bill every step of the way, and voted with bill sponsor David Seymour on all of his varied amendments thus far – all of which are aimed at getting it to pass.

Now, with the referendum vote looming – under which the law would be dependent on the public endorsing it – Ardern has left open the option of voting for a referendum which she has previously be wary of, if that’s what is needed for the bill to pass.

Ardern is of course only one vote of 120. Because euthanasia is a conscience matter for Labour and National, the leaders’ votes technically don’t count any more than the lowliest of backbenchers’.

But her vote will likely be influential on other MPs on the fence, which could be crucial. It’s much easier to make a hard decision when you know your leader has made the exact same call. Several other Labour MPs could go all the way from yes to no without much trouble.

Seymour desperately needs to pass the referendum amendment on Wednesday to pass the bill itself in a few weeks’ time. This is because of a deal he made with NZ First early in the process: if he got a referendum included, all nine NZ First MPs would stay onboard through all three readings.

If the referendum amendment fails, it’s not clear that every NZ First MP would vote against the bill (opinions clearly differ within the party), but most would.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/116752897/what-labour-will-worry-about-with-a-euthanasia-referendum?cid=app-iPhone

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Psychiatry professor criticises ‘discriminatory’ euthanasia

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NewsTalk ZB 17 October 2019
Family First Comment: So many great points made in this interview…. 
“The long and short of it is anywhere from 70 to 75 per cent of people who are actually killed, so called euthanised, in countries where it is legal are the elderly and  the poor.”  
“When we talk to the elderly and the poor about why they wish to be killed or euthanised, they say they have become a burden on their families and on society, so is it really a choice.”  
The research found that suicide rates have increased between five and 15-percent in countries where euthanasia is legal. 
#rejectassistedsuicide

A professor says that legalising euthanasia has been devastating on the elderly, poor and disabled.

Otago University doctors have reviewed the laws, practices and modifications in countries where it’s been introduced.

Old Age Psychiatry associate professor Yoram Barak says our public debate isn’t well informed.

He’s calling on psychiatrists to say ‘no’ to euthanasia.

“The long and short of it is anywhere from 70 to 75 per cent of people who are actually killed, so called euthanised, in countries where it is legal are the elderly and  the poor.”

Barak says the debate centres on choice, rights and dignity, but euthanasia becomes discriminatory.

He says ignoring history means we’d be killing people without options.

“When we talk to the elderly and the poor about why they wish to be killed or euthanised, they say they have become a burden on their families and on society, so it is really a choice.”

He says the Dutch government’s considering extending euthanasia to anyone over 70 years old who feel they’ve fulfilled their role in life.

The research found that suicide rates have increased between five and 15-percent in countries where euthanasia is legal.
READ MORE: https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/heather-du-plessis-allan-drive/audio/yoram-barak-psychiatry-professor-criticises-euthanasia-calls-it-discriminatory-and-contradictory/

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US study says assisted suicide laws rife with dangers to people with disabilities

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BioEdge 13 October 2019
Family First Comment: The National Council on Disability (NCD) has released a scathing analysis of the effect of assisted suicide laws in the United States on people with disabilities. It finds that safeguards are ineffective and that there is little oversight of abuses and mistakes…. The most prevalent reasons offered by someone requesting assisted suicide are directly related to unmet service and support needs. These should be dealt with through new laws and more funding, says NCD, not assisted suicide. “Assisted suicide laws are premised on the notion of additional choice for people at the end of their lives, however in practice, they often remove choices when the low-cost option is ending one’s life versus providing treatments to lengthen it or services and supports to improve it.” 

The National Council on Disability (NCD) has released a scathing analysis of the effect of assisted suicide laws in the United States on people with disabilities. It finds that safeguards are ineffective and that there is little oversight of abuses and mistakes.

In eight states and the District of Columbia it is legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients diagnosed with terminal illness and with a prognosis of six months or less to live, if certain procedural steps are followed.

Pain relief is often described as the primary motivation for seeking assisted suicide. In its report, Assisted Suicide Laws and their Danger to People with DisabilitiesNCD responds that the most prevalent reasons offered by someone requesting assisted suicide are directly related to unmet service and support needs. These should be dealt with through new laws and more funding, says NCD, not assisted suicide.

“Assisted suicide laws are premised on the notion of additional choice for people at the end of their lives, however in practice, they often remove choices when the low-cost option is ending one’s life versus providing treatments to lengthen it or services and supports to improve it,” said NCD Chairman Neil Romano.

Closely examining the experience in Oregon, where the practice has been legal for 20 years, NCD found that the list of conditions eligible for assisted suicide has expanded considerably over time, including many disabilities that, when properly treated, do not result in death, including arthritis, diabetes, and kidney failure.

Assisted Suicide Laws and their Danger to People with Disabilities also notes suicide contagion in states where assisted suicide is legal; as well as a loosening of existing safeguards both in states with legalized assisted suicide and states considering bills to legalize.
READ MORE: https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/us-study-saysassisted-suicide-laws-rife-with-dangers-to-people-with-disabil/13245

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A Quebec court has invalidated parts of the medical aid in dying laws

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Montreal CTV News 11 September 2019
Family First Comment:This is the slippery slope. The bill being debated by our Parliament at the moment is simply the ‘foot in the door’ – as evidenced by overseas experience.
“A Quebec Superior Court judge has invalidated sections of both the laws on medically assisted dying, ruling Wednesday they were too restrictive and therefore unconstitutional.”
#rejectassistedsuicide

A Quebec Superior Court judge has invalidated sections of both the federal and Quebec laws on medically assisted dying, ruling Wednesday they were too restrictive and therefore unconstitutional.

Justice Christine Baudouin found in favour of two Quebecers struck by incurable degenerative diseases who’d argued they were denied a medically assisted death under laws that are discriminatory.

Baudouin ruled invalid the Criminal Code requirement that a natural death be “reasonably foreseeable” before someone can be eligible for assisted death. The condition has prevented some people from accessing the end-of-life procedure. She also invalidated a section of the Quebec law that says people must “be at the end of life.”

Baudouin suspended application of the judgment for six months to give federal and provincial legislators a chance to modify the laws.

But the court granted an exemption to Truchon and Gladu, allowing them to seek medical aid in dying during this period if they satisfy other conditions in the law.

The laws in place deprived them of the right to have “a dignified and serene death”, she wrote in her lengthy decision.

Baudouin, who heard from witnesses in January, agreed the rules governing who was entitled to medical assistance in dying were too restrictive and discriminatory.
READ MORE: https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/a-quebec-court-has-invalidated-parts-of-the-medical-aid-in-dying-laws-1.4588622

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Dutch Woman With Dementia Euthanized Against Her Will – Doctor Cleared Of Wrongdoing.

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DailyWire 12 September 2019
Family First Comment: In 2017, 83 people with mental illness were killed in the country, as noted by National Review. “The Dutch plunge into the euthanasia moral abyss continues to accelerate, with the number of patients killed by doctors exceeding 6,000 in 2017. That’s more than 500 a month, 100 a week, and 15 a day,” the outlet reported in March 2018. “Demonstrating the consequences of accepting the premise that eliminating suffering justifies eliminating the sufferer, Dutch psychiatrists killed 83 of their mentally ill patients in 2017 — up from twelve in 2012 and 43 in 2014.”
#protect.org.nz

Three years ago, a 74-year-old Dutch woman with dementia was euthanized by a doctor who drugged the patient’s coffee without her knowledge and then had family members physically restrain her for the final lethal injection.

The doctor, who has not been publicly named, was cleared of all wrongdoing by a court in the Netherlands on Wednesday, “clarifying” the country’s euthanasia law enacted in 2002 in relation to patients with “severe dementia,” according to MedicalXPress.

Patients with dementia can now be killed by their doctors even if they strongly object to euthanasia at the time, so long as they have previously given consent for the fatal procedure. In other words, if a patient were to change their mind about the assisted suicide, a doctor could still legally kill them against their will. “The court ruled that in rare cases of euthanasia that were being performed on patients with severe dementia — and who had earlier made a written request for euthanasia — the doctor ‘did not have to verify the current desire to die,'” MedicalXPress reported.

And in the case of this specific Dutch woman with dementia, she never once gave an express request to be euthanized. In her will, which was renewed about a year before her death, the woman said she would like to be euthanized “whenever I think the time is right.” And when she was asked if she wanted to be euthanized, she reiterated multiple times that her suffering was not bad enough to where she wanted to be killed:

“The 74-year-old woman had renewed her living will about a year before she died, writing that she wanted to be euthanized ‘whenever I think the time is right.’ Later, the patient said several times in response to being asked if she wanted to die: ‘But not just now, it’s not so bad yet!’ according to a report from the Dutch regional euthanasia review committee.”

She was killed, anyway.

Part of the rationale for clearing the doctor of drugging the patient’s coffee without her knowledge and killing her while she was being physically restrained against her will was in part, according to the court verdict, because “the patient no longer recognized her own reflection in the mirror,” the MedicalXPress report said.

In 2017, 83 people with mental illness were killed in the country, as noted by National Review.

“The Dutch plunge into the euthanasia moral abyss continues to accelerate, with the number of patients killed by doctors exceeding 6,000 in 2017. That’s more than 500 a month, 100 a week, and 15 a day,” the outlet reported in March 2018. “Demonstrating the consequences of accepting the premise that eliminating suffering justifies eliminating the sufferer, Dutch psychiatrists killed 83 of their mentally ill patients in 2017 — up from twelve in 2012 and 43 in 2014.”
READ MORE: https://www.dailywire.com/news/51688/dutch-woman-euthanized-against-her-will-doctor-was-amanda-prestigiacomo
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Q+A with Dr Theo Boer

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Q&A TVNZ – 9 Sep 2019
Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002 we interview Dr Theo Boer from the Theological University. Professor Boer speaks from his experience of examining 4,000 euthanasia cases in the Netherlands over a period of 10 years as part of a regional euthanasia review committee.
WATCH NOW: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/q-and-a/clips/q-a-with-dr-theo-boer

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