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Monday, 19 February 2018, 12:59 pm
Press Release: ACT New Zealand
ACT Leader David Seymour today launched a series of videos that will feature in a social media campaign for the End of Life Choice Bill.
“The #MyLifeMyChoice campaign will highlight the personal stories of Kiwis suffering with terminal illness”, says Mr Seymour.
“New Zealanders will be moved by the courage and determination of Bobbie Carroll, David Seymour (not the MP), and Rachel Rijpma. I certainly was.
“The goal of this campaign is to continue highlighting the inadequacy of our current laws as a select committee deliberates on my End of Life Choice Bill.
“The campaign also features videos from Dr Lance O’Sullivan and Matt Vickers, widower of Lecretia Seales, both strong supporters of New Zealanders’ right to choose assisted dying.
“Ultimately this campaign is about providing choice and compassion to those suffering at the end of their lives”, says Mr Seymour.
The five videos feature:
• Dr Lance O’Sullivan, doctor and New Zealander of the Year
• Bobbie Carroll, sufferer of blood cancer
• David Seymour (not the MP), sufferer of Motor Neurone Disease
• Rachel Rijpma, sufferer of Huntington’s Disease
• Matt Vickers, widower of Lecretia Seales and assisted dying campaigner.
The videos will be rolled out progressively on social media over the next few weeks using the hashtag #MyLifeMyChoice.
You can view the first video at the End of Life Choice NZ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LifeChoiceNZ/.
MPs have been delivered copies of a book which tells the stories of people whose loved ones died badly rather than being able to opt for voluntary euthanasia.
A select committee is currently considering legislation which would allow people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying.M
EOLC President Maryan Street delivered the books to David Seymour and Ruth Dyson.
A select committee is currently considering legislation which would allow people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying.
Speaking on behalf of the End of Life Choice Society, former cabinet minister Maryan Street said the purpose of delivering the book to MPs was to make them aware of people's stories.
"This is the reality because of the law - people die badly, or even if they do die by their own choice, they die alone for fear of compromising loved ones and making them criminally liable."
Below are pictures of the gathering outside Parliament:
A paperback edition of Dying Badly – New Zealand Stories has been published and is available for $12 (postage included) from the Central Office of the End-of-Life Choice Society firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 48 241, Silverstream, Upper Hutt 5142.
Payment may be made by cheque made out to "End-of-Life Choice" or direct credit to our bank account 38-9006-0226036-02 with your name as a reference and email your address would be even quicker.
The e-book can still be downloaded free of charge from the website https://yestodignity.org.nz
Thank you for your co-operation in this project and we encourage you to pass this on to others who you think may be interested.
Source: NZ Herald
By: Jack Havill
• Dr Jack Havill is a former intensive care medicine specialist with more than 30 years' experience of watching people die associated with critical illness. He is a past president of the End-of-life Choice Society.
Opponents of medically-assisted dying typically resort to emotive misleading language in their bid to continue denying choice to the majority of New Zealanders who want a compassionate change in the law.
Dr Paul Moon's article on Friday was no exception and by linking the state's long-gone death penalty for capital crimes with the End of Life Choice Bill currently before Parliament's justice select committee he made some bizarre assertions and does those who desire a serious debate on the issue a disservice.
He chooses to forget that voluntary assistance in dying (VAD) is at the request of a competent patient. Dr Moon suggests, without any evidence, that the psychological effects on past executioners could be the same for doctors performing VAD. It is a fact that every day, intensive care doctors and others undertake compassionate acts which cause the death of patients.
Let us look at some facts. People die cruel, agonisingly painful, deaths in New Zealand every day. Many suffer horribly for days, some for weeks, while others linger at death's door for months, even years, awaiting merciful relief.
Scientifically-conducted opinion polls show that at least 75 per cent of New Zealanders do not believe this is right in a modern civilised society and thousands explained why in submissions to an inquiry conducted by the last Parliament.
In moving testimony they recounted terrible tales of family members and friends dying in conditions that a number observed would provoke criminal charges if the sufferers were animals.
Parliament is not being asked to take a leap into the unknown. One-in-six Americans now have end-of-life choice in their states — California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and Colorado, as well as the District of Columbia. VAD is legal in Canada and Colombia and in the European nations of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland and will be legalised in the Australian state of Victoria next year.
Oregon has allowed VAD for 20 years with no official complaint that its strict safeguards protecting the elderly and disabled are not working. The numbers accessing the law are small and only about two-thirds of those who get a prescription for a lethal drug use it. It seems that for many the knowledge that they can end their suffering if things become unbearable is enough.
The Victorian State Parliament's select committee, whose members travelled to overseas jurisdictions where VAD is legal to study the situation for themselves, talked to a wide range of people on both sides of the debate and specifically rejected opponents' oft-claimed fears of a "slippery slope" threatening the vulnerable.
The Human Rights Commission told Parliament it supports VAD in principle and the last Government's Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, when exercising his obligation to review the validity of all proposed legislation, said David Seymour's bill would not infringe basic human rights.
It is well recognised that palliative care cannot relieve all suffering of the terminally ill and surveys show 70 per cent of New Zealand nurses support VAD. From my soundings, I estimate about half of general practitioners support a law change. (Only 20 per cent of doctors belong to the NZ Medical Association, which opposes it, and they have not been surveyed for their opinions).
Palliative care specialists who oppose VAD reject claims that doctors use morphine to end patient's lives, but other more powerful drugs such as midazolam, fentanyl and methadone are often used. Their use can lead to death, even if the doctor pretends that they don't intend this result which is known as the "double effect".
Even though palliative care cannot always relieve suffering, hospices commonly sedate persons heavily while trying, and some are even anaesthetised by the drugs, while relatives sit at the bedside hoping that death will come quickly to end their misery.
Many patients simply want a good death with those they love around them and the ability to say goodbye with dignity while conscious. That is what this End of Life Choice Bill is all about, not about misleading and emotive claims of "state-sanctioned killing".
Public submissions are now being called for End of Life Choice Bill on the Parliament website.
This bill proposes to give people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying.
What do you need to know?
Further guidance on making a submission can be found from the ‘How to make a submission’ link in the ‘Related documents’ panel.
If you have any questions about your submission or the submission process please contact the Committee Staff through the contact details provided on the Parliament website.
The public campaign to get euthanasia legislation over line has begun with a plea; "get it to select committee".
If MPs voted it through the first reading, it would be the first such legislation to reach a point where the New Zealand public had a chance to submit.
The MPs and organisations backing a law change were imploring New Zealanders make their views known to their local MP and to engage in respectful debate.
Read more on Stuff »
by Graham Adams / 12 June, 2017
Voluntary euthanasia is suddenly back in the news. The strongest opposition to a law change will come from religious groups but why are they so shy about mentioning God or their faith?
The assisted dying debate which was thrust into national prominence in mid-2015 by Lecretia Seales’ case in the High Court has been quiet for most of this year, despite health select committee members touring the country to hear personal testimonies. Now it has suddenly roared back into life.
David Seymour’s member’s bill was plucked from the ballot on June 8 in a flurry of publicity, including a media standup at Parliament that saw Seales’ widower, Matt Vickers, and former Labour MP and assisted dying campaigner Maryan Street interviewed alongside the Act MP.
Even if the government manages to delay the first reading of the bill until after the election — which is quite likely given Bill English’s opposition as a devout Catholic — there is no chance the topic will be sidelined. As well as Seymour’s bill, the health select committee has said it hopes to report back to Parliament before the election, and the trial of Suzy Austen is also likely to be under way before the end of the year.
Austen, who was chair of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society's Wellington branch, faces two charges of importing the class C drug Pentobarbitone, also known as Nembutal, and another of aiding the suicide of an elderly woman. The charges followed Operation Painter, in which the police mounted a bogus alcohol checkpoint in Wellington to gather information about voluntary euthanasia supporters.
Austen has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial will be followed closely here and around the world by anyone interested in the topic.
Opponents of assisted dying have wasted no time in launching their resistance to a law change. Within hours of Seymour’s bill being selected, Family First put out a press release headed “Campaign Launched to Kill Act’s Assisted Suicide Bill”.
The battle lines were immediately drawn, with familiar arguments cited, including the risk of coercion to the elderly, vulnerable and disabled.
And, unfortunately, followed by an outright lie: “The international evidence backs up these concerns.”
In fact, the international evidence strongly refutes them. The Canadian Supreme Court, the Royal Society of Canada, and, in Australia, the Victorian Inquiry into End of Life Choices found no evidence of coercion, abuse or a “slippery slope” after investigating how assisted dying laws operate around the world. Neither did the Economist, which is campaigning in favour of assisted dying.
And there are plenty of jurisdictions to examine these days, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and the US states of California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Vermont, as well as Washington DC. More than a hundred million people around the world now have access to assisted dying but not New Zealanders.
Opponents, however, are not going to let facts get in the way of their story, especially those whose religious beliefs dictate their view. As Seymour noted in a party news letter: “The Bible says thou shalt not lie but some assisted dying opponents must think they’re specially exempted. If they’re not breaking the letter of the commandments they are certainly outside their spirit. We do not say this lightly — the dishonesty in their campaign is breath-taking.”
The dishonesty does not lie solely in ignoring the evidence from countries where assisted dying laws have worked successfully, sometimes for decades. It lies also in the fact religious opponents often don’t declare their religious motivation because they know it will work against them. Many of us see religion as little more than mediaeval superstition, and the proportion of the irreligious in New Zealand is probably at least 50 per cent, so arguments framed in religious terms will cut little ice with most people.
Consequently, the churches are keen not to reveal their hand too clearly. Among the churches, the Roman Catholic Church is the prime organiser against assisted dying legislation around the Western world, but it has explicitly warned the faithful against couching public arguments against assisted dying in religious terms, or even mentioning religion.
“Avoid religious or moralistic language. Be factual,” was the advice from Catholic bishops to those faithful who wanted to petition MPs after Maryan Street had withdrawn her assisted dying bill from the member’s ballot in the run-up to the 2014 election. She promised to reintroduce it after the election.
In 2015, in response to the health select committee inquiry, a list of 21 “key arguments” the church recommended to be used did not include a single reference to religion, biblical authority, or church teaching, including the “sanctity of life”. The suggested arguments included praising palliative care, raising concerns about the vulnerable, and reference to the “long-standing convention against killing persons”.
Mounting only religion-free arguments is the clearest indication of how much the churches have lost their once-supreme moral authority in the community. Their relentless hugging of the shadows in a debate that goes to the core of their beliefs is an indication of defeat, and of their terminal weakness.
Effectively, the religious have been forced to fight the battle on the grounds of secular humanism their opponents have marked as their own: an appeal solely to non-religious concerns.
The church’s recommendations to not use religious references in submissions therefore make a mockery of Family First’s second press release, two days after Seymour’s bill was drawn, titled: “Claim of 'religious' opposition to euthanasia debunked”.
“Family First NZ says that a full analysis of submissions made to the Inquiry on assisted suicide by the Care Alliance shows 77 per cent opposition to any change in the law, but also conclusively rebuts the claims made by Act MP David Seymour and other supporters of assisted suicide that opposition to euthanasia is driven by ‘religious’ people only.
“13,539 (82 per cent) of the 16,411 submissions opposed to euthanasia contained no reference to religious arguments, while 1535 used some, and just 1337 relied mainly on religious arguments. Ironically, 208 submissions referred to religious reasoning in supporting euthanasia.”
First, no one claims that opposition to assisted dying comes only from the religious. Second, Family First director Bob McCoskrie must know that the Catholic church waged a nationwide campaign to urge the faithful to make a submission opposing a law change, but without including religious arguments.
The invidious position the Catholic church finds itself in was spelled out clearly to the health select committee in early 2016. John Kleinsman, fronting for the Nathaniel Bioethics Centre, the mouthpiece for the Catholic bishops in New Zealand, wrote:
“It is well known that Catholic moral teaching is unequivocal in its opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia. The reasons for this are many and varied. They include reasons that some people would regard as 'religious' in nature because they reflect a certain understanding of the divine origins of life. They also include reasons that are linked to questions of the common good, human dignity, human choice, justice, human rights and human well-being, reasons shared by people of all other faiths and none.
“Religious arguments have their own validity and rationale within a particular faith-based framework. However, we recognise (i) they will not be compelling for persons who do not share our faith perspective and (ii) they are not sufficient for shaping public policy in a secular society. For this reason our submission will focus on arguments of a social, cultural, ethical and philosophical nature that can be understood and appealed to by all persons irrespective of their religious background.”
This is reasonable enough except for one thing: anyone who has a deep religious conviction that rejects any human interference with what they consider to be a natural life span ordained by God is not putting all their cards on the table if they don’t explicitly argue that position. Because if they did, they would have to admit that there is absolutely no evidence that would change their minds, no matter how compelling.
The most common arguments used by religious opponents (and others opposed) are that killing is intrinsically wrong; that legalisation could result in abuses, particularly to the vulnerable; and the possibility of a “slippery slope” that could see the initial tight safeguards expanded.
These arguments aren’t particularly strong. The convention against killing is not absolute — society allows major exceptions for state-sanctioned killing during wars and for anyone in self-defence, including police. And, of course, suicide is legal.
Assisted dying legislation in other countries hasn’t led to abuse or vulnerable people being pressured; and the slippery slope argument is basically a paternalistic, anti-democratic position of “If we give you an inch, you’ll take a mile.”
Given that these positions are weak — especially now that there is so much evidence from so many jurisdictions where assisted dying has been used successfully — religious opponents are forced to use tactics of misinformation and fear-mongering.
Australian TV presenter and assisted dying campaigner Andrew Denton calls these tactics FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. He related his experience of attending an international conference hosted by the HOPE anti-euthanasia organisation in Adelaide in 2015, convened by a one-time senior officer of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.
Denton said the conference “heard a lot about how to influence politicians”, including how former New Hampshire legislator Nancy Elliott spelled out the tactics that had worked for her in the States.
“‘When you have lots of arguments,’ Elliott said, ‘if one argument gets blown out of the water, you still have more, and each argument will reach somebody else.
“‘Right now the disability argument is really kicking it. It's very powerful. Will it always be powerful? We don't know. Two, three, four years from now that may have holes kicked in it, just for different reasons, so we have to be flexible.’”
Denton said that after citing elder abuse and suicide contagion as other possible arguments, Elliott went on to say: “You only have to convince legislators that they don't want this bill. You don't have to win their hearts and minds; all you have to do is get them to say, ‘Not this bill’, and then you have got your win.”
We have seen the process at work in New Zealand over the past two years since Lecretia Seales’ situation became public. At first, many of the arguments in opposition rested on the false claim that palliative care could cure all pain and distress.
Now that argument has been shelved, for the moment anyway — mostly because so many personal testimonies of loved ones’ deaths, made in submissions to the select committee (including my own), showed it to be a lie. And Justice David Collins in his judgment in the Lecretia Seales case concluded that palliative care cannot cure all pain.
Instead, we can expect other arguments to be recycled in the debate ahead, to find one that is “kicking it”, as Nancy Elliott said.
The question inevitably arises: “Why have the formerly all-powerful churches been reduced to encouraging their followers to hide their true motivations in public discussion?”
David Seymour put it like this to Noted: “The idea that my religious sensibilities will be offended by other people’s freedoms has no vote appeal.”
Most damaging, the churches have lost the argument over compassion, which is supposed to be a bedrock of Christian belief and action. Instead, they have to appeal to possible harms that might arise through legalising assisted dying while actual harms are being suffered by those dying in pain.
The churches have to avoid revealing much about their deepest beliefs because many of them would inspire scorn, if not revulsion, among the general public. Chief among the beliefs they want to hide is that suffering is seen as a means of sanctification, and a way of sharing Christ’s suffering on the Cross.
Bill English, a practising Catholic, revealed as much in the 2003 parliamentary debate on Peter Brown’s assisted dying bill — and not only the experience of suffering, but watching it as well. English said: “Pain is part of life, and watching it is part of our humanity. Many of us have become more human for watching it, whether or not we liked doing that.”
For New Zealanders who are irreligious and don’t see suffering as virtuous, this is simply sadistic, mediaeval nonsense.
Little wonder, then, that the religious prefer to hug the shadows in the assisted dying debate.
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Dr Lance O’Sullivan, an outspoken advocate for medically assisted dying, is a finalist nominee for the New Zealand Herald’s People’s Choice as New Zealander of the Year.
Voting is open for one week only so get your vote in before midnight next Saturday, December 9.
The following in Saturday’s paper does not mention his advocacy for MAID, but he could be expected to speak out if he won the title – remember Lecretia Seales was named New Zealander of the Year by the Herald after she had died.
“Dr Lance O'Sullivan isn't wanting for accolades or recognition over his tireless efforts to help his Far North community.
But admiration and respect for the Kaitaia GP was renewed when he stormed the stage at a local screening of an anti-vaccination documentary.
The film — Vaxxed: from Cover-Up to Catastrophe — attempts to make the long-debunked link between vaccines and autism.
O'Sullivan leapt before the audience, telling them their mere presence would "cause babies to die". He warned of the harm caused to non-immunised children and others in the community, pleaded with other health professionals to leave the viewing, and performed a passionate haka.
The move drew personal threats and "vile" comments from the anti-vaccination community, he said — but also widespread praise.
Prominent microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, said the film was "dangerous" and came at a time when there was an outbreak of mumps in New Zealand.
"There's a whole generation of children who are not protected against these horrendous diseases, so we really need people of high profile like Lance stepping up and protecting their community."
Already, O'Sullivan's impact on local public health has been immeasurable, including setting up a low-cost health clinic at Kaitaia Hospital and the MaiHealth programme, which offers a remote consultation to people without ready access to primary healthcare.
He has also been instrumental in establishing programmes aimed at improving child health, including the Manawa Ora Korokoro Ora (Moko) foundation and the Kainga Ora (Well Home) initiative.”
You can see how to vote for him at the end of the following article »
There's concern vulnerable people, like the elderly, will be at risk if euthanasia is legalised here.
The Australian state of Victoria is one step away from bringing an assisted dying bill into law.
Last night, the state government's upper house voted to pass the bill. It now just needs support from the lower house before it becomes enshrined in law.
It will be the first state in Australia to legalise assisted dying.
It has turned attention back on David Seymour's euthanasia law, which is expected to come up again in Parliament here soon.
Doctor Sinéad Donnelly, a palliative care doctor, said instead of a right to die, it'll become a duty.
"Older people who feel that they are in their nineties and their getting older and they are a burden to their family and their money, their finances, are being used for rest home care."
She said a doctor giving a lethal injection should never be normalised.
"It's an extraordinary action that is counter to, in my view, everything that being a doctor is about."
Donnelly said euthanasia is not needed to relieve suffering as there are many other options to do that.
However, End of Life Choice Society president Maryan Street said it's about terminally ill people making a choice.
She said the reasons for that will vary from person to person.
"So they may feel 'I cannot bare to see what my suffering is doing for my loved ones. I would rather end all of this now, it's not going to get better'."
Active euthanasia, in which a doctor is allowed to intentionally help a patient die, is currently legal in Belgium, Netherlands, Canada and Japan.
Watch this TVNZ One news item:
© End-Of-Life Choice • PO Box 321, Gisborne 4040 • Email: email@example.com