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How Victoria’s assisted dying laws work

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The Age 18 June 2019
Victoria is on the verge of allowing terminally ill people to lawfully end their lives.

The historic law, which was passed in November 2017 after a state parliamentary inquiry into end-of-life choices, and a ministerial advisory panel on voluntary assisted dying, comes into effect on Wednesday, June 19.

While Victoria is not the first jurisdiction in the world to offer some form of assisted death, the bill – which contains 68 safeguards – has been described as the most conservative of its kind.

So how will it work?

Who can use the laws?

Voluntary assisted dying will be available only to Victorians who are over the age of 18. The patient must be capable of making sound decisions, give informed consent and communicate their decision.

They must be diagnosed with an incurable disease or a condition that causes intolerable, unrelieved suffering, and must be expected to live for fewer than six months – or no more than 12 months, for those with a neurodegenerative diagnosis.

They must have lived in Victoria for at least one year before making a first request for voluntary assisted dying, and be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

The person choosing to end their life must be the one to make the decision to access the laws and it cannot be made by anyone else on their behalf.

Having dementia is not a sufficient reason for a person to access voluntary assisted dying (the same as disability or mental illness).

A person diagnosed with dementia, however, may be eligible if they meet all of the criteria, including having decision-making ability throughout the entire process.

What are the steps to using the laws?

A terminally ill patient must make three, clear requests.

Firstly, they must make a verbal request about voluntary assisted dying to their doctor (generally, their GP). This conversation must be initiated by the patient and no one else. The doctor cannot raise the issue of assisted dying with a patient. Doctors who suggest the assisted dying scheme to patients face a professional misconduct investigation.

This doctor is called a”co-ordinating doctor” and it is their job to assess the patient to determine their eligibility for the scheme in the first instance.

Once they’ve been assessed, a patient must then make a second request to a different doctor, in the form of a written declaration, signed in the presence of two witnesses and their co-ordinating doctor.

The second doctor, generally a specialist in the person’s illness, called a “consulting medical practitioner,” will then conduct another assessment of the patient to confirm their eligibility.

Once this is complete, the patient must make a third and final verbal request to the co-ordinating doctor. This must be at least nine days after the first request (unless death is likely to occur before).

The co-ordinating doctor will then conduct a final review to certify the request and assessment process.

They will then apply for a voluntary assisted dying permit, either for self-administration or practitioner administration, depending on the patient’s circumstances.

The application is handed to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, which reviews and approves all requests for voluntary assisted dying.

The law outlines a period of 10 days between the first request to a doctor and being given the means to end life. This means that the first person to take their own lives legally in Victoria could do so on June 29.

At any stage of the process, a person who has requested access to assisted dying may change their mind and decide not to proceed.

How would the lethal drug be administered?

A small team of pharmacists at The Alfred hospital will have sole responsibility for preparing and supplying all the required drugs for the lethal substance.

The drugs needed to make the lethal dose are already legal in Australia; there will be no need to import the banned euthanasia drug pentobarbital.

Authorities made the decision to have a single point of access for the euthanasia drug rather than having it dispensed from multiple pharmacies to ensure that patients are provided with consistent information, and that unused medications are returned and destroyed.

The pharmacists will travel around the state to dispense the medication to patients. The lethal substance will be handed to patients in a locked box.

Most people will drink the dose – a liquid of about 100 millilitres (just over a third of a cup) – in their own homes at a time of their choosing.

Those ending their lives will also be given medication to relax and reduce any chance of regurgitation before they take the lethal substance, which will cause unconsciousness within minutes and a peaceful, pain-free death soon after.

Under certain circumstances, those physically incapable of swallowing will be allowed to take the substance as a lethal intravenous drip set up by a doctor.

Nobody else, including the pharmacist delivering the lethal substance, is permitted to administer the drugs.

If someone breaches the self-administration permit, they face potential life imprisonment. Anyone who induces a person to request assisted dying faces up to five years jail.

The patient must appoint a person who will return any unused medication to The Alfred if they die before taking the lethal substance, or decide not to take it.

A pharmacist can also retrieve the the unused medication and take it back to The Alfred. Unused lethal medication must be returned within 15 days of death.

What should we call it?

Language around the issue has long been a battlefield.

In framing the Victorian bill, serious consideration was given before the words “voluntary assisted dying” were chosen.

The Ministerial Advisory Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying found there was a “significant social stigma” attached to the term “suicide'” and for this reason, determined that “assisted suicide” was not an appropriate term.

While, technically, a terminally ill person who takes a lethal drug has still died by suicide, the distinction is important, say supporters of the law, because the word carries enormous emotional weight.

Suicide, they argue, connotes a violent death, usually carried out by someone suffering from depression or a mental illness that might feasibly have been treated.

By contrast, “voluntary assisted dying” is about a decision made by a terminally ill person in full command of their mental faculties. It’s about someone who is already dying choosing to end their suffering, supporters say.

The advisory panel also ruled out “dying with dignity” on the basis that it implied only those who opted for assisted dying were taking a dignified path.

Many opponents of the Victorian bill still use the phrase “assisted suicide”, including the Catholic Church and the Australian Medical Association, which calls it “physician-assisted suicide”. (The Victorian chapter of the AMA, however, calls it “physician-assisted dying”.)

Euthanasia is a broad umbrella term for a range of different practices for ending a person’s life, some of which Victoria’s legislation doesn’t allow for.

At The Age we use the term euthanasia to refer to the issue, while we use the term assisted dying in relation to the laws.

The term euthanasia comes from the Greek word euthanatos, which can be translated as “easy death” and is defined as the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease.

It is important to note, however, the word euthanasia is not written anywhere in the state’s legislation.

What checks and balances would be in place?

A Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board has been established to review each assessment that has been approved.

The board is chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme and County courts, Betty King, and has 12 other members ranging from palliative care specialists to neurologists, oncologists, pharmacists and doctors.

The board’s role is not to grant or refuse applications for voluntary assisted dying. Its purpose is to review each case retrospectively to ensure that laws haven’t been breached.

Doctors breaking the law would be likely to be quickly exposed as every assessment for euthanasia, positive or negative, will be reviewed by the board.

The board can refer breaches to the police, coroner or the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

The patient’s terminal illness will be listed as their underlying condition but the voluntary assisted dying act will be recorded as the cause of death on their death certificate and in the register.

Can doctors object to helping someone end their life?

Any health practitioner can “conscientiously object” to participating in any part of the euthanasia process. But they would not be allowed to impede someone’s access to the regime.

The Victorian Department of Health has established a training body capable of preparing medical specialists wanting to assist voluntary dying. All doctors who want to be part of the scheme must undertake this training.

To date, about 100 doctors including GPs, cancer specialists and palliative care clinicians have undertaken mandatory, specialist training ahead of the laws being enacted.

About a third of those doctors are from regional Victoria.

How many people are expected to apply for assisted dying?

It has been estimated that about 150 Victorians could make use of euthanasia laws each year but the state government predicts the number could be as low as 12 in the first year – experience in other places where euthanasia is legalised shows that the initial take-up can be slow.

In the US state of Oregon in 1998, after a Death with Dignity Act first came into force, 24 terminally ill people took the option to end their lives. Since then, the number has risen steadily, peaking at 218 deaths in 2015.

The Northern Territory parliament passed the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, to allow assisted dying, in 1995 but it was overturned in 1997. Under the short-lived legislation, four people, including two terminally ill patients from NSW and South Australia, ended their lives.

Queensland and Western Australia are now considering enacting voluntary assisted dying legislation.
https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/how-victoria-s-assisted-dying-laws-work-20190523-p51qeb.html

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Elder abuse ‘rampant’ and ‘all-hidden’ in New Zealand

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Stuff co.nz 18 June 2019
Family First Comment: NZ Medical Association chair, Dr Kate Baddock, recently said “Apparently approximately 50% of those who choose euthanasia in The Netherlands do so because they feel obligated to die. They feel that their continued existence is a burden, either financial or emotional, to their family, to society at large. And so they choose euthanasia, even though they don’t want to die.” 
#rejectassistedsuicide

Elder abuse can be financial, psychological, physical or sexual, and can affect men and women regardless of their race, religion, class or sexual orientation. It could be verbal harassment or humiliation, preventing decision-making, isolation or over-medication.

However, Peterson-Ihaka said that abuse against elderly people is mostly financial.

Unlike in Bill’s case, more than 75 per cent of abuse against an elderly person is by a family member, often a child or grandchild.

A common threat is that the elderly person won’t have access to their grandchildren, unless they comply with the child’s demands.

Last year, Age Concern’s elder abuse services received over 2200 referrals across the country – two thirds of which were confirmed cases of abuse or neglect.

Anyone concerned can call the 24 hour helpline – 0800 326 6865 – to be directed to the nearest Elder Abuse Response Service.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/113353630/elder-abuse-rampant-and-allhidden-in-new-zealand

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The Netherlands Didn’t Actually Euthanize Noa Pothoven, But Letting Her Kill Herself Wasn’t Much Better

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City Journal 5 June 2019
Family First Comment: Remember the Dutch 17y/o euthanasia case that wasn’t euthanasia? That doesn’t make things any better.
“…But even allowing a 17-year-old girl to dehydrate herself to death, in front of others, makes one feel uncomfortable, to say the least. She was refused euthanasia earlier because those who would have been responsible for killing her felt that she was too young: her brain, and her character, were not fully formed. Were her brain and character nevertheless formed enough for her to kill herself in front of others? In France, those who watched her die would have been guilty of a criminal offense.”
Euthanasia changes attitudes. Don’t go there.

If I were Dutch, I would not be altogether reassured by the ease with which it was widely (though mistakenly) believed that a 17-year-old girl named Noa Pothoven was put to death by doctors because of her unbearable mental suffering, rather than the fact that she was actually allowed to refuse all food and drink until she died of dehydration. The first was believed because putting a depressed teenager to death is the kind of thing many people have come to expect of the Netherlands.

Their expectations are not the result of mere prejudice. In August 2017, a Dutch doctor published a letter about the evolution of euthanasia in the country. “In 2015,” he wrote, “92 percent of the patients who received physician assisted dying had a serious somatic disease,” from which it follows that 8 percent (or 450 persons in absolute numbers) did not. Even this number may be an underestimate, for it was based on a survey to which only 78 percent of doctors replied. Furthermore, “serious somatic disease” is not the same as “imminently fatal disease.”

Dutch law does not require that the illness from which a candidate for euthanasia is suffering be terminal or indeed physical. In 1994, a psychiatrist, Boudewijn Chabot, was tried because he had administered fatal poison to a woman who had no physical illness and, according to him, no psychiatric disorder, either, but who simply wanted to die to rejoin her two sons, who had died before her. The lower courts exonerated him; the supreme court found him guilty but did not punish him, and allowed him to continue in practice. The only reason that he was found guilty of anything was that he had failed to consult a second doctor over his decision—a second opinion not being much of a safeguard, considering how doctors tend to defer to one another’s clinical wisdom. Interestingly, Chabot has himself since become alarmed at the looseness with which the legal criteria are now being applied, the routinization of the decision-making, the rubber-stamping for death.

In other words, the initial story about Pothoven was credible, though it turned out to be false. But even allowing a 17-year-old girl to dehydrate herself to death, in front of others, makes one feel uncomfortable, to say the least. She was refused euthanasia earlier because those who would have been responsible for killing her felt that she was too young: her brain, and her character, were not fully formed. Were her brain and character nevertheless formed enough for her to kill herself in front of others? In France, those who watched her die would have been guilty of a criminal offense.

By all accounts, her end was peaceful. Here she performed a valuable service: she successfully demonstrated that euthanasia is not necessary. All that is necessary for a person wishing to die to achieve his aim is to stop drinking for a relatively short time, and for his wishes to be respected. Proper care will ensure that he or she is comfortable.

Pothoven’s unbearable personal suffering was caused, she said, by the sexual abuse that she had suffered when she was 11, and rape by two men when she was 14. Certainly, she suffered severely from anorexia nervosa, on one occasion requiring hospitalization to save her from organ failure. But until very late in the day, said her mother, “We didn’t get it. Noa is sweet, beautiful, smart, social and always cheerful. How is it possible that she wants to die?”
READ MORE: https://www.city-journal.org/euthanasia-noa-pothoven

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Why I changed my mind on euthanasia

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NewsRoom 27 May 2019
Family First Comment: “The turning point for me came about a month ago. I saw the report of a meeting hosted by disabled people’s organisation, People First (a group run by and for people with learning/intellectual disabilities) in the Central North Island. At that meeting, access to health care was discussed, as this is a key issue – particularly for people within this segment of the disability community – for whom find it difficult accessing care for many reasons, including attitudinal issues on the part of some medical professionals. This was exemplified by the stories shared at the meeting where some people – who had gone to hospital for treatment – had discovered upon reading their files that they had ‘no resuscitation’ orders attached to them. More problematically, these orders had not been requested by any of the disabled people or their families.”
www.protect.org.nz

Chris Ford explains why he’s now firmly in the ‘no’ camp on the voluntary euthanasia legislation

Last Wednesday, David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill (EOLC) was scheduled to come before Parliament for its second reading. However, thanks to some filibustering, it’s been delayed until the next Private Member’s Day when non-government bills are dealt with.

Whatever the reasons for the delay, it’s given opponents of the legislation more time to present good arguments to the public as to why the legislation needs to be defeated. This delay also presents me with a good opportunity to say I’ve changed my mind on it and am now firmly in the no camp.

I know that this will put me in the same column as Christian conservatives who also oppose the legislation for moral reasons. Personally, this makes me feel very uneasy given that I hold otherwise progressively social liberal views on issues such as abortion and reproductive rights, LGBTI rights, women’s issues and indigenous issues, etc. Yet, I want to outline from a socialist, progressive and disability rights perspective as to why I have swung my support to the anti-euthanasia camp.

The turning point for me came about a month ago. I saw the report of a meeting hosted by disabled people’s organisation, People First (a group run by and for people with learning/intellectual disabilities) in the Central North Island. At that meeting, access to health care was discussed, as this is a key issue – particularly for people within this segment of the disability community – for whom find it difficult accessing care for many reasons, including attitudinal issues on the part of some medical professionals. This was exemplified by the stories shared at the meeting where some people – who had gone to hospital for treatment – had discovered upon reading their files that they had ‘no resuscitation’ orders attached to them. More problematically, these orders had not been requested by any of the disabled people or their families.

Personally, this brought home to me one of the key arguments of the anti-euthanasia camp: that people who are already marginalised or devalued (such as older and disabled people) would be at high risk from euthanasia. The pro-euthanasia lobby would counter that people will have the right to exercise real legal choice and that the rights of vulnerable people would be better protected within the EOLC once it goes through the remaining stages of the parliamentary process. In stating this, I acknowledge that when the legislation returns that Seymour is preparing to remove the ‘irremediable conditions’ clause, which was one of my genuine concerns with it.

The way in which society views disabled people is still largely negative and any introduction of euthanasia laws might further diminish our standing in the eyes of wider New Zealand society.

Chris Ford is a Dunedin-based writer and researcher who focuses on disability, economic and social issues and proudly identifies as a disabled person.
READ MORE: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/05/27/602948/why-i-changed-my-mind-on-euthanasia

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Euthanasia bill ‘goes against the ethics of our profession’ – Medical Association chair says

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TVNZ One News 22 May 2019
Family First Comment: “Doctors are still the ones that would be involved in assisting people to die. It goes against what a doctors role is,” Dr Baddock says. She says the reason the Medical Association is opposed to the Bill in its entirety is that it doesn’t address the social issues it needs to. “Particulary those of coersion, competence and vulnerability. It doesn’t protect the vulnerable, the weak, the lonely, those in pain and those that are suffering. It doesn’t protect them from a wrongful death.” She says elder abuse is happening and this Bill only encourages it.
www.protect.org.nz

Newly proposed amendments to the End of Life Choice Bill, which is set to have its second reading in Parliament, have been strongly rejected by the New Zealand Medical Association, with its chair saying it “goes against the ethics of our profession”.

Dr Kate Baddock told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning under the new bill doctors would still be the ones administering the injection for those choosing to end their life through voluntary euthanasia.

“Doctors are still the ones that would be involved in assisting people to die. It goes against what a doctors role is,” Dr Baddock says.

She says the reason the Medical Association is opposed to the Bill in its entirety is that it doesn’t address the social issues it needs to.

“Particulary those of coersion, competence and vulnerability. It doesn’t protect the vulnerable, the weak, the lonely, those in pain and those that are suffering. It doesn’t protect them from a wrongful death.”

She says elder abuse is happening and this Bill only encourages it.

“Apparently approximately 50 per cent of those who choose euthanasia in the Netherlands do so because they feel obligated to die.  They feel their continued existence is a burden either financial or emotional to their families and to society at large. They choose euthanasia even though they don’t want to die,” Dr Baddock says.
https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/euthanasia-bill-goes-against-ethics-our-profession-medical-association-chair-says

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OPINION: Why I’m voting “’No” to Euthanasia

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Times Online 16 May 2019
Family First Comment: Well said, Simeon
“…it is clear to me that no system of euthanasia, no matter how carefully designed, can ensure the protection of the most marginalised and vulnerable in our society. This is deeply troubling to me. International precedents show that euthanasia regimes result in the involuntary death of innocent lives, often those who are marginalised and vulnerable. I cannot support a law which allows the state to intentionally kill its citizens, particularly when innocent lives will be lost in the process. The potential for this particular Bill to go so wrong is too big to ignore.”

Shortly, Parliament will debate and vote on the second reading of the End of Life Choice Bill, which is being sponsored by David Seymour, MP for Epsom.

This is a conscience issue which many people hold strong opinions on. Since the first reading of this bill, I have received thousands of emails on this topic, met with many in Pakuranga who have wished to share their opinion on the issue, spoken with palliative care experts, disability advocates, doctors, lawyers, and I have sat on the select committee to hear submissions on this Bill, 90 per cent of which were opposed.

I want to thank and acknowledge everyone who has spent time discussing this topic with me. It is a highly emotive issue and I believe that there are many well-meaning people who hold widely differing views.

I will however be voting against this bill for the following reasons.

Firstly, it is clear to me that no system of euthanasia, no matter how carefully designed, can ensure the protection of the most marginalised and vulnerable in our society. This is deeply troubling to me. International precedents show that euthanasia regimes result in the involuntary death of innocent lives, often those who are marginalised and vulnerable. I cannot support a law which allows the state to intentionally kill its citizens, particularly when innocent lives will be lost in the process. The potential for this particular Bill to go so wrong is too big to ignore.

I have also considered this issue in the context of what our doctors are saying. I join with the overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals in New Zealand – including end-of-life specialists – who oppose euthanasia.

I find the New Zealand Medical Association’s comments on coercion particularly concerning: “An absolute guarantee that those who choose assisted dying are doing it voluntarily would be extremely difficult to establish in legislation and ensure in practice. Doctors are often not in a position to detect subtle coercion – as is also the case when trying to identify signs of emotional or financial abuse of elders more generally. Coercion also extends to assumptions of being a burden, giving rise to a sense of an ‘obligation’ to die.”

Finally, in a country with dire statistics relating to elder abuse, youth suicide and mental health, euthanasia is a major step backward and represents a threat to the vulnerable in our society.

I understand why an individual who has lived a full life and now faces a painful death would want to be allowed to choose when they will go. But I don’t believe we can allow and celebrate that without creating a terrible side effect for many others, for whom this law would not be so benign. Instead of offering a legal avenue for suicide, we need to encourage and strengthen our families and communities to support those who are lonely and suffering.

I am encouraged by the rapid developments in palliative care, which has only recently been recognised as a medical specialty. As I have engaged with this sub-sector extensively since being elected, I have only grown in my admiration for their work and belief that we must prioritise their role in enabling people to have ‘dignity in death’, not in romanticised suicide.

I appreciate this is a very difficult issue and I know people have many views on this issue, and I always welcome hearing from anyone who wishes to share theirs with me.

Simeon Brown  MP for Pakuranga
https://www.times.co.nz/news/opinion-why-im-voting-no-to-euthanasia/

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End of life choices: The Crown’s duty of protection

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Stuff co.nz 2 May 2019
Family First Comment: Grant Illingworth QC nails it….
“Parliament is presently considering enacting legislation which would significantly diminish the protection currently provided by the law relating to unlawful homicide. The measures being promoted under the End of Life Choice Bill are half-baked, poorly drafted and dangerous. Freedom of choice is an appealing doctrine, and sympathy for the terminally ill and their suffering provides a compelling context too. However, egocentricity and self-interest are irradicable aspects of human nature, and it would be a grievous mistake for MPs to overlook the larger danger of exposing weak, vulnerable and defenceless people to the depredations of those prepared to advance their own interests by influencing others to end their lives prematurely.”
#rejectassistedsuicide
www.Protect.org.nz

OPINION: In the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings, heavily armed police were urgently mobilised as soon as the threat was revealed. The Government acted to protect the lives of every individual in this country, with force if necessary.

It is a fundamental obligation of the government to protect us all. In law, we are all – even visitors and those who do not have the right to live here — subjects of the Crown. This principle, concerning the responsibility of government, was established in 1608 in a famous decision known as Calvin’s case. One of the most important aspects of that case was that it identified the essential features of the relationship between the individual and the sovereign.

The individual, whether resident or visitor, owes allegiance to the sovereign; the sovereign owes a reciprocal obligation, which is to govern and protect the Crown’s subjects. The judgment in Calvin’s case says this: “But between the Sovereign and the subject there is without comparison a higher and greater connexion; for as the subject oweth to the King his true and faithful ligeance and obedience, so the Sovereign is to govern and protect his subjects.”

The Crown’s duty to protect its subjects applies to everyone, but it is naturally most relevant to the weak, the vulnerable and the defenceless, including the elderly, those suffering serious illness and those who have lost the ability to think clearly and make informed decisions for themselves.

It is extremely common for those involved in legal matters to encounter situations where weak or vulnerable people and those who can’t stand up for themselves are taken advantage of by others through acts of dishonesty, intimidation and violence. In designing a justice system to shield everyone from such behaviour, the Crown carries out its reciprocal obligation to govern and protect its subjects.

This form of protection is particularly evident in laws relating to unlawful homicide, including murder, manslaughter and provisions concerning assisted suicide. These have been carefully designed to shield the lives of individuals threatened by the wrongful conduct of others and to provide a general protection for the lives of all members of our community, particularly those most at risk.

Any attempt to diminish the protection that those laws provide must, on any rational view, be subjected to the most anxious examination and scrutiny. As the greatest jurists throughout history have consistently recognised, the safety of the people is the supreme law: Salus populi suprema lex esto.

Parliament is presently considering enacting legislation which would significantly diminish the protection currently provided by the law relating to unlawful homicide. The measures being promoted under the End of Life Choice Bill are half-baked, poorly drafted and dangerous.

* Grant Illingworth is a QC and member of Lawyers for Vulnerable New Zealanders (lvnz.org)
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/112248130/end-of-life-choices-the-crowns-duty-of-protection

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As a tetraplegic I once supported assisted suicide – but I was wrong

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Stuff co.nz 25 April 2019
Family First Comment: “I had been told ‘if I was in your position, with your disability, I wouldn’t want to live’ by the very health professionals who are there to help suicide survivors. No one ever asked about my toxic mindset and frantic way of living.”
protect.org.nz
#rejectassistedsuicide

OPINION: For most of my life I’ve been pro assisted suicide. It was about choice, dignity, and compassion. I think that’s why most New Zealanders are in favour of the End of Life Choice Bill.

I’d consider myself more liberal than conservative, a girl who grew up in a secular family. Growing up, I didn’t really understand the implications of having a ‘choice’.

That all changed when I turned 17 and was in a car crash where a family member fell asleep while driving. As a result, I became a tetraplegic, requiring a wheelchair for mobility, with impaired arm movement.

I attempted suicide a few times in the years following the crash. Each time, I’d end up in a coma in hospital. In 2015, health professionals encouraged me to explore assisted suicide. I signed up to a Swiss assisted suicide group and felt all my suffering and pain would soon be over.

Before I was to leave for Switzerland, I had another operation on my broken neck. The operation was a disaster, leaving me more paralysed. I had to give up my career, I lost financial security, became more dependant and was in more pain than ever.

I spent months in bed reflecting on my life. I had managed to complete my degree, a Master’s and had even worked full time. In hindsight, I realised my biggest problem had been my mindset and a lack of proper support. Prior to the botched neck surgery, to cope with grief, I would take on more work, even volunteering at Youthline as a counsellor.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/112052994/as-a-tetraplegic-i-once-supported-assisted-suicide–but-i-was-wrong

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Voluntary euthanasia should be available to children: civil libertarians

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Brisbane Times 17 April 2019
Family First Comment: Disturbing comments in Australia..
“We would define such a mature minor as a child over 12 years of age who … has a sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable him or her to understand fully what is proposed,” he said.

Children as young as 12 should be able to choose to end their own lives, with civil libertarians citing European laws as a model that could be replicated in Queensland.

A Queensland inquiry, led by a parliamentary committee, is examining aged care, palliative care and voluntary euthanasia.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said the views of mature minors about voluntary assisted dying (VAD) should be respected.

“We would define such a mature minor as a child over 12 years of age who … has a sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable him or her to understand fully what is proposed,” he said.

“However, we do recognise that children are entitled to extra protection when making their decision.”

Mr Cope said children should be assessed by an independent psychiatrist before their request to die was authorised.

“Secondly, at least one of the independent medical practitioners should have specific qualifications and experience in dealing with children,” he said.

“Thirdly, in the case of children a request for VAD should not be based solely on an underlying psychiatric condition.”

Mr Cope said the suggestion was based on laws in Europe, where 13 minors had accessed voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands since 2002 and three in Belgium since 2014.
READ MORE: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/voluntary-euthanasia-should-be-available-to-children-civil-libertarians-20190417-p51ex1.html

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As a doctor who swore to first do no harm, the End of Life Bill really bothers me

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Stuff co.nz 21 April 2019
Family First Comment: “How we die says a lot about our society. Having held a few hands of the dying, I know that those moments are sacred. I didn’t swear the oath of first doing no harm, to then participate in an activity with multiple harmful effects to both the living and the dying.”
#protect
#rejectassistedsuicide

OPINION: First, do no harm. This is our medical creed.

When our class graduated I was the student who read out our version of the Hippocratic​ Oath, “a declaration of professional dedication”, in te reo Māori.

All brand new baby doctors in the old Maidment Theatre, 20 years ago. The kids were there holding my hands. Te Kaanga Skipper, our med school mother hen, gave us all a pounamu heart to wear around our necks. Merimeri Penfold lent me a korowai. Pineaha Murray and Selwyn Muru put the cloak on me. Karakia were spoken, and an ancient oath was made new.

The End of Life bill has brought it all back in vivid, living colour. Reading the legislation – not everyone’s cup of tea – has been exacting my little grey cells this week. I find it fascinating. And with a new bill like this one the preamble and description of the process to date is insightful stuff.

In essence, the judicial committee who reviewed it were “unable to agree that the Bill be passed”. They concluded members of Parliament needed to resolve the matter.

There are a few things that really bother me.

One is that the law is written as if we are all living completely independently of each other, as if we make decisions alone. This is not true. That there is no compulsion to discuss “assisted dying” with any whānau at all strikes me as fundamentally wrong. This is not reflective of how we – Māori and Pākehā – live, or how we may die.

Many aspects of the law that I deal with regularly provide salutary lessons that are relevant here if we don’t want to make the same mistakes.

* Child and adolescent psychiatrist Hinemoa Elder PhD is a Fellow of the Royal Australia NZ College of Psychiatrists, and Māori strategic leader at Brain Research NZ.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/112099470/as-a-health-professional-the-end-of-life-bill-really-bothers-me

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