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Anti-euthanasia campaigner documents brain cancer battle in film

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Stuff co.nz 8 April 2019
Family First Comment: “Now understanding it was the depression that is a natural bedfellow for terminal illness that made her ever think it was a good idea to hasten her death, she is making a last-ditch plea to stop the End of Life Choice Bill progressing.” 
www.Protect.org.nz 

Tokomaru woman Vicki Walsh has well and truly out-lived her life insurance payout.

Diagnosed with the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme nearly eight years ago, the prognosis was that she would be dead in 12 to 148 months.

She nearly was.

Not from the cancer, but by her own hand.

She had the pills laid out on the kitchen bench, ready to end the suffering, but changed her mind over a cup of tea.

Now understanding it was the depression that is a natural bedfellow for terminal illness that made her ever think it was a good idea to hasten her death, she is making a last-ditch plea to stop the End of Life Choice Bill progressing.

On Tuesday, the day Parliament’s Justice Committee is due to report back ahead of a likely vote on May 1, the DefendNZ lobby group’s documentary about her remarkable survival will be released.

Called Terminal but not dead yet, Walsh’s story explains her fear that the change of law would make vulnerable ill and disabled people feel worthless, selfish for continuing to be “a burden” and pressured to ask someone to end their lives.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/111835457/choosing-life-despite-a-terminal-diagnosis

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Dr Sinead Donnelly: Canada shows euthanasia soon extended to more than the terminally ill

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NZ Herald 7 April 2019
Family First Comment: “The Canadian law has created confusion about what patient’s lives are worth living and what lives aren’t. This is directly, negatively affecting medical care. Canada has abandoned one of the most important aspects of patient-centred care.”

• Dr Sinead Donnelly is a palliative medicine specialist in Wellington.
COMMENT:  As the time approaches for Parliament’s Justice Committee to report back on David Seymour’s euthanasia and assisted suicide bill, it is timely to carefully review the impact of legalisation in countries like Canada, often cited by Seymour as exemplary.

Seven Canadian doctors published a 2018 World Medical Journal article, “Euthanasia in Canada: a cautionary tale”, endorsed by 57 other Canadian doctors. They wrote, “As Canadians, we are saddened by this situation, but we hope that our experience and observations will serve as a warning for our colleagues in other countries, and their patients”.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled in Carter v. Canada (2015) that physicians may provide euthanasia or assisted suicide (EAS) to competent adults who clearly consent, who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including illness, disease, or disability) that causes enduring and intolerable physical or psychological suffering, and that cannot be relieved by means acceptable to the individual.

The Canadian law’s sponsor claimed that EAS would remain “very exceptional”. However, the law also said “qualified patients had a right to euthanasia, and the exercise of a right cannot be exceptional”.

Within a year of the ruling, pressure for “Carter Plus” became so great that the federal Government legally committed to considering EAS for adolescents and children, for mental illness alone, and by advance directive (for those who lack capacity, like dementia patients). Two and a half years after legalisation, strong lobbies are intensifying their push towards expanding euthanasia as a response to those cases.

As Seymour states often in support of his own Bill, the Canadian Supreme Court believed “a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards” would limit risks associated with allowing physicians to kill patients or help them commit suicide. Canada’s EAS death rate in the first year, about 0.9 per cent of all deaths (1,982), was not reached by Belgium for seven to eight years.

Even supplemented by provincial and professional guidelines, current criteria are so broad it permitted lethal injection of an elderly couple who preferred to die together rather than at different times by natural causes.

Other disturbing stories emerge. A 25-year-old disabled woman in acute crisis in an emergency ward was pressured to consider assisted suicide by an attending physician, who called her mother “selfish” for protecting her. Hospital authorities denied a chronically ill, severely disabled patient the care he needed, suggesting euthanasia or assisted suicide instead.

When the Quebec euthanasia law was being instituted, some Quebec emergency physicians, for a time, were letting suicide victims die even though they could have saved their lives. The president of the Association of Quebec Emergency Physicians stated that the law and accompanying publicity may have “confused” the physicians about their role.

Quebec physicians and health care practitioners now work in environments characterised by an emphasis on euthanasia as a purported “right”. The onus is increasingly on physicians to show why euthanasia should be refused, with health care administrators more anxious about being accused of “obstructing access” than about “killing people who really ought not to be killed”. This is the reality of a supposedly carefully designed system.

The Canadian law has created confusion about what patient’s lives are worth living and what lives aren’t. This is directly, negatively affecting medical care. Canada has abandoned one of the most important aspects of patient-centred care.

As Professor Margaret Somerville explains: “The informing philosophies of euthanasia and palliative care are in conflict. Palliative care is based on a commitment to help people to live as fully as possible until they die a natural death. The informing principle of euthanasia is that it is ethical to intentionally inflict death to relieve suffering or even the fear of future suffering.”

Peer-reviewed, published evidence shows most euthanasia requests are motivated by existential issues, including fear of loss of control, of what comes after death, of being a burden on others, demoralisation, and questioning the meaning, purpose and value of life. None of these can be properly addressed by euthanasia. This is hardly “patient-centred” care.

So what can we learn? “The introduction of euthanasia in Canada has caused doubt, conflict and crisis”. The authors suggest an alternative that new disciplines, new professions and new methods may arise to satisfy new social goals but not in the name of medicine.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12219801

Patients’ trust in doctors central in End of Life Choice Bill debate

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Stuff co.nz 4 April 2019
Family First Comment: “As someone who works with people in pain every day, I can’t support the End of Life Choice Bill. It takes a vulnerable population, one that experiences depression and anxiety and already worries that their lives hold no value to society, and offers them suicide as a solution to their pain and suffering. It would destroy the trust that some of my patients have in me, as their pain doctor, to be a safe space where they can discuss the causes of their suffering.”
#rejectassistedsuicide
www.protect.org.nz

Dr Conrad Engelbrecht is a doctor in anaesthesia and pain medicine for Waikato DHB and co-head of the Braemar Pain Clinic in Hamilton.
OPINION: In debate around the End of Life Choice Bill, there is a lot of talk about pain and suffering. Is it possible to stop all pain and suffering? Can pain and suffering make a life no longer valuable, and make death a better option than life? What should a doctor’s role be when a patient is experiencing intense pain and suffering?

As an anaesthetist and pain physician working at a pain clinic, it’s my job to help people who are in pain. On a day-to-day basis, I see patients who are suffering, and my job is provide them with an avenue to alleviate their suffering.

I can tell you that pain and suffering are complex experiences. Of course pain can be physical, but it can also be emotional, existential, spiritual or psychological. It can be caused by medical and physical conditions, as well as by emotions and issues held deeply inside a person. Pain often affects people on multiple levels. It affects their moods, their ability to function, their physical activity, how they sleep, their mental well-being, and their social interactions and engagements.

When people experience pain over long periods of time, and when that pain is relentless, people can suffer from low moods and even develop depression and anxiety. They lose things that are important to them: jobs, hobbies, the ability to work, and a sense of self-worth. I have met many patients with chronic or intense pain who feel like they are no longer valuable to their families, their community, or to society – that they’re more of a burden than a blessing.

But these people do still have value, and it is our job, at the pain clinic, not only to help them with their pain, but also to demonstrate to them that they still hold value as people.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/111629784/patients-trust-in-doctors-central-in-end-of-life-choice-bill-debate

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Dame Tariana Turia: Euthanasia would undermine whānau values

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NZ Herald 2 April 2019
Family First Comment: Superb words from Dame Tariana
“It’s a really important time in all of our lives when we are farewelling somebody we love and care for. It is the responsibility of all of us to be at one with one another. The End of Life Choice Bill would invade this sacred space. The bill would allow a person to request a euthanasia death without talking to their family, and a person could be killed without the family knowing. In treating the dying person only as an individual and not as a whānau member, the bill misunderstands what it means to live and to die.”
Protect.org.nz

Life and death are not individual events. There are very few people who are on the Earth by themselves. We exist as part of our families, our whānau and our communities. For many Māori, death is a process the whole whānau goes through together because the whānau is farewelling a part of itself.

It’s a really important time in all of our lives when we are farewelling somebody we love and care for. It is the responsibility of all of us to be at one with one another.

The End of Life Choice Bill would invade this sacred space. The bill would allow a person to request a euthanasia death without talking to their family, and a person could be killed without the family knowing. In treating the dying person only as an individual and not as a whānau member, the bill misunderstands what it means to live and to die.

I feel quite sad about this bill because it undermines the essential things we believe in as tangata whenua, saying that that’s of no consequence. People, whether they be terminally ill, disabled, or old, are still members of families. It doesn’t matter what their circumstances are.

About three years ago my husband George had a heart attack and a stroke. He was in intensive care, and a doctor said to me that she would hope I wouldn’t expect them to resuscitate him. And I thought , “Wow.”

So I said to her, “I don’t think I would expect you to do anything for my husband. In fact, as soon as he is well enough, we will go home, and we will decide what treatment he will receive.”

So we took George home, and right through that first year, we’re being told he could go at any time.

But, you know, he’s still alive. We all care for him. A grandson gave his job up in Wellington and came to Whanganui to help me look after his grandfather. People need to live in a safe, happy environment, to be loved within their family, to have the family there to help them do what they need to do.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12218130

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End of Life Choice Bill will make New Zealand a ‘dangerous place’ – Sir Bill English

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NewsHub 1 April 2019
Family First Comment: “This law will make New Zealand a dangerous place for people who are young and suicidal or old and think they’re a burden, or people with disabilities. If they have a bad day, where they wish they weren’t alive, we should be offering them kindness – but what we’re going to offer is to kill them.”
Protect.org.nz

Sir Bill English has warned against making euthanasia legal in New Zealand, saying descriptions of the End of Life Choice Bill as a “slippery slope” don’t go far enough.

The former Prime Minister says the Bill, initially tabled by ACT leader David Seymour, will make New Zealand a “dangerous place”.

“This is a serious issue that could change the nature of our country,” he told The Project on Monday.

“This law will make New Zealand a dangerous place for people who are young and suicidal or old and think they’re a burden, or people with disabilities.

“If they have a bad day, where they wish they weren’t alive, we should be offering them kindness – but what we’re going to offer is to kill them.”

But Seymour says while it’s easy to “speculate and fearmonger”, data shows countries haven’t seen a rise in youth suicide or back-flipped on their decision to legalise euthanasia. He says the law change won’t put anyone at unnecessary risk.

“What this End of Life Choice Bill will do is put in a regime of safeguards… that will be sufficiently safe and give better protection to people.”

But Sir Bill says any law change on euthanasia sets a dangerous precedent that could give rise to worrying developments – particularly in regards to mental health.

“It’s worse than a slippery slope… once you start saying ‘we’ll drop the ban on killing, some people can choose to be killed’ – how do you stop more and more and more?”
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/04/end-of-life-choice-bill-will-make-new-zealand-a-dangerous-place-sir-bill-english.html
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Slippery slope to kids, mentally ill getting euthanised – doctor

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NewsHub 1 April 2019
Family First Comment: Disturbing
“The largest children’s hospital in Canada – the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children – has already published their guidelines on how euthanasia will occur for mature minors. It includes if the child says they don’t want the parent to know, the parent will be informed the child has died after they’ve received euthanasia.”
#slipperyslope

A visiting Canadian doctor claims if New Zealand introduces euthanasia, it could result in children choosing to end their own lives without their parents’ input.

Canadian palliative care physician Leonie Herx is in New Zealand to take part in a debate hosted by North Shore MP Maggie Barry on ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill, which would legalise euthanasia under strict circumstances.

Euthanasia has been legal in Canada since 2016, where it’s known as medical aid in dying, or MAID. Since then about 8000 have chosen to end their lives this way, Dr Herx says, making up around 1.5 percent of all deaths.

She told The AM Show on Monday it took Belgium 16 years to reach that level, after legalising the practise in 2002.

“How did we get to this place in two years, so rapidly?”

Like Seymour’s Bill, Canada has strict rules around who is eligible for euthanasia, including age, mental state, how much notice must be given, number of witnesses required, approval from medical professionals and their prognosis. There’s a 10-day waiting period, applicants must be informed of other palliative options and consent can be withdrawn at any time – even as the fatal drugs are being readied for injection.

Dr Herx however says there are already moves to widen eligibility.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/03/slippery-slope-to-kids-mentally-ill-getting-euthanised-doctor.html

Majority of submissions on euthanasia bill are against legalising
NewsTalk ZB 1 April 2019 
A series of public debates start tonight to discuss moves to legalise euthanasia, as new figures show a huge majority of people are against the idea.

The justice select committee will report back to parliament on end of life legislation next week and the law’s second reading’s likely to go ahead next month.

Figures released yesterday showed more than 90 per cent of Kiwis who made submissions on the euthanasia bill want the proposed law change scrapped.

Canadian palliative care expert doctor, Leonie Herx, told Mike Hosking assisted dying has been “rife with problems”.

She said the eligibility criteria has changed expanded since the law was introduced.

“Our statistics have been consistent with international statistics [and show] that it’s actually not people who have poorly controlled physical symptoms, it’s people who have a fear of loss of control.”

“They are worried about dying and being a burden on others.”

Herx said it is now a human right in Canada and the Government is looking at bringing in euthanasia for mental health and for mature minors.
READ MORE: https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/mike-hosking-breakfast/audio/majority-of-submissions-on-euthanasia-bill-are-against-legalising/

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Ninety per cent of submissions on euthanasia bill say no to assisted dying

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NZ Herald 31 March 2019
Family First Comment:  “90.2% opposed the bill, 8.1% were in favour and 1.7% were neutral or unclear.” 
#rejectassistedsuicide
protect.org.nz

More than 90 per cent of Kiwis who made submissions on the euthanasia bill want the proposed law change scrapped.

But backers of the controversial bill say scientific surveys are a better guide on public opinion and have consistently found majority support for euthanasia or assisted dying.

The Care Alliance analysed virtually all of the more than 38,000 submissions made to Parliament’s justice select committee on Act leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill.

It found that 90.2 per cent opposed the bill, 8.1 per cent were in favour and 1.7 per cent were neutral or unclear.

Most submissions were unique, and not form or postcard submissions. Twelve per cent were longer than a page and 90.5 per cent did not use religious arguments.

The bill would legalise voluntary euthanasia, giving people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=12217759&ref=twitter

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Hamilton woman with terminal condition explains why she opposes euthanasia bill

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NZ Herald 28 March 2019
Family First Comment: The stories and concerns that highlight the danger of legalising assisted suicide.
#DefendNZ
Protect.org.nz

“There is literally a piece of my DNA that is missing, so there’s no cure.

“Kylee Black has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which is terminal, yet, she is opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill.

Her joints dislocated often with the medical condition affecting her joints, ligaments, tendons, skin, blood vessels and internal organs.Because her joints don’t work as they should, Black relies heavily on other people to help her maintain a fulfilling life.

Along with regular human assistance, she relies on a number of medications and has received many surgeries to keep her body functioning.

The 32-year-old is opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill because she feels people like herself would be pressured to consider assisted dying.

“I have difficult days and those days I don’t need to be confronted with easily accessible death,” she said.

“If assisted suicide is legal it would be legal to promote it. I don’t want to be triggered by assisted suicide ads or flyers.

“I have multiple specialists and go to hospital many times a year. I know my care costs a lot of money. But I also know I contribute to society.

“Black has revealed all in a mini-documentary created by the movement called #DefendNZ which opposes the End of Life Choice Bill.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=12216909&ref=twitter

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Dame Tariana Turia joins campaign against David Seymour’s euthanasia Bill

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NewsHub 10 March 2019
Family First Comment: DefendNZ is a series of documentaries featuring people with a terminal illness or disability.
The campaign includes the voices of community leaders, like Former Associate Health Minister Dame Tariana Turia. “No one ever said to me ‘I want to be assisted to die’, they want to be assisted to live.” https://www.defendnz.co.nz/ 
#rejectassistedsuicide 
www.protect.org.nz

Dame Tariana Turia has added her voice to those opposing euthanasia in a campaign launched on Sunday.

It comes ahead of a second vote on David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill.

Hamilton woman Kylee Black lives with a rare connective-tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

“There is literally a piece of my DNA missing, so there is no cure,” she said.

She features in a campaign called ‘Defend New Zealand’, which raises the concerns of those with terminal illnesses and disabilities about the pressure euthanasia may put on them.

“All of a sudden I feel like well, maybe, I have to make that decision.”

The campaign includes the voices of community leaders, like Former Associate Health Minister Dame Tariana Turia.

“No one ever said to me ‘I want to be assisted to die’, they want to be assisted to live.”

Voices for and against euthanasia have already been heard in a record 37,000 submissions made to Parliament on the End of Life Bill.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/03/dame-tariana-turia-joins-campaign-against-david-seymours-euthanasia-bill.html

Anti-euthanasia group launches documentary series
NewsHub 10 March 2019
https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/03/anti-euthanasia-group-launches-documentary-series.html
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What’s happened in Oregon since euthanasia was introduced?

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Oregon 2018 assisted suicide report. A record number of assisted deaths.
Alex Schadenberg blog – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition  3 March 2019
Family First Comment: Hint: It’s not pretty – and sends a clear warning to NZ

The 2018 Oregon annual assisted suicide report is similar to prior years. The report implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information in the report does not address that subject.

According to the 2018 Oregon assisted suicide report.

  • There were 168 reported assisted suicide deaths up from 158 in 2017.  When published, the 2017 report claimed that 143 people died by assisted suicide, 15 fewer than the actual number of death.
  • 168 of 169 people who reportedly ingested lethal drugs in 2018, died from it, one person survived and died of natural causes.
  • 11 of the deaths, the lethal drugs were prescribed in previous years.
  • 3 of the patients were referred for a psychological or psychiatric evaluation.
  • 2 physicians were referred to the Oregon Medical Board for failure to comply with the law.
  • The time of death ranged from 9 minutes to 14 hours. When dying from DCMP2, death took on average 2 hours, with the longest time taking 21 hours.
  • In 2018 one person died 807 days (more than 2 years and 2 months) after requesting assisted death.
  • 43 people received lethal prescriptions, but their “ingestion” status is unknown.
  • There were 249 lethal prescriptions obtained, up from 218 in 2017.
There may be more assisted suicide deaths.

According to the 2018 Oregon report, the ingestion status was unknown in 43 deaths. Last year the report stated that 143 people died by assisted suicide but then revised the report to state that 158 people died by assisted suicide.

When the ingestion status is unknown, it is possible that the person died by assisted suicide. Some or all of these deaths may represent unreported assisted deaths.
Oregon politicians debating expanding the eligibility criteria in the Oregon assisted suicide act.

Recently the Oregon suicide lobby stated that they intend to expand the definitions in the assisted suicide law.

Oregon House Bill HB 2232 proposes to change the definition of terminal from a six month prognosis to:

a disease that will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce or substantially contribute to a patient’s death.

Many people who are not “terminally” ill have a disease that will, within reasonable medical judgement, produce or substantially contribute to death. When considering the OHA inclusion of refusing medical treatment, this new definition enables wide-open assisted suicide.

Oregon Senate Bill SB 0579 enables a physician to wave the 15 waiting period when prescribing lethal drugs for suicide. The current Oregon assisted suicide law requires a 15 day waiting period. SB 0579 states:

Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, if the qualified patient’s attending physician has medically confirmed that the qualified patient will, within reasonable medical judgment, die before the expiration of at least one of the waiting periods described in subsection (1) of this section, the prescription for medication under ORS 127.800 to 127.897 may be written at any time following the later of the qualified patient’s written request or second oral request under ORS 127.840.

By waving the 15 day waiting period, a person can be approved for assisted suicide and die the next day.
Oregon Health authority has an expanded definition of terminal.

In December 2017, Fabian Stahle, a Swedish researcher who is concerned about assisted suicide, communicated by email with a representative of the Oregon Health Authority.

Stahle confirmed that the definition of terminal illness, used by the Oregon Health Authority includes people who may become terminally ill if they refuse effective medical treatment.

The responses to Stahle from the Oregon Health Authority also confirmed that there is no effective oversight of the Oregon assisted suicide law.

The yearly Oregon DWD reports are based on data from the physicians who prescribe and carry-out the assisted suicide death and the data is not independently verified. Therefore, we don’t know if the information from these reports is accurate or if abuse of the law occurs.
https://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2019/03/oregon-2018-assisted-suicide-report.html?utm_source=Euthanasia+Prevention+Coalition+Contacts&utm_campaign=c16a1cb9ca-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_03_04_07_06_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-c16a1cb9ca-157142057

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