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  • 28 May 2021 4:33 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: NZ Doctor

    Government officials are assessing whether there are enough health work­ers to provide assisted-dying services in every region, says former NZMA chair Kate Baddock.

    Dr Baddock has discussed issues such as workforce, and who might or might not want to be involved in New Zea­land’s scheme, with Ministry of Health officials overseeing its implementation.

    “They are just working through what that distribution across New Zealand might look like, whether it’s sufficient for their needs,” says the Warkworth GP and practice co-owner.

    Asked whether she is confident the ministry will have the scheme ready to go by its 7 November start date, Dr Bad­dock says, “So far, they have managed to achieve their timelines, but we are getting to the pointy end. I’m confident they understand the time pressures and issues that need to be resolved.”

    Before Dr Baddock’s term as chair ended on 18 May, she and association chief executive Lesley Clarke attended stakeholder meetings with the ministry implementation team. Dr Baddock says the association is working with the ministry because, despite the NZMA’s opposition to physician-assisted dying, it is imperative doctors understand their role and obligations under the End of Life Choice Act.

    Issues that have been aired but not fully worked through include accredita­tion of end-of-life facilities; who might be needed in addition to the medical workforce; education of the public and providers of the service; and funding of both training and service provision.

    Speaking to New Zealand Doctor Rata Aotearoa before Budget 2021 was an­nounced, Dr Baddock said ministry of­ficials indicated they had put in a Budget bid. She expected the Budget to provide money for assisted dying.

    In an update on its website, the min­istry says the first online training mod­ule about the act and health practitioners’ obligations, including the right to conscientious objection, will be available this month.

  • 06 May 2021 6:43 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    The Ministry of Health are putting out regular update sheets, showing their progress and future plans for the practical implementation of the End of Life Choice Act. We encourage everyone to sign up to receive these by clicking here »

    If you have any contacts who might be interested, medical or otherwise, please pass this information to them.

  • 06 May 2021 5:16 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: ABC

    South Australia is one step closer to legalising voluntary euthanasia after the state's Upper House voted in support of the voluntary assisted dying bill.


    Key points:

    • 14 Legislative Councillors voted in favour of the bill, seven MLCs opposed it
    • It is the 17th attempt to pass a voluntary assisted dying bill through the state's Parliament
    • The bill will go to the Lower House for a final vote

    Legislative Council members voted 14 to 7 in favour of the proposed legislation late on Wednesday night.

    It was the 17th attempt to pass the measure through South Australia's Parliament in 26 years.

    If passed in the Lower House, the proposed new laws will likely to come into force in the state within 18 to 24 months.

    The bill, which is modelled on Victoria's voluntary dying laws, includes 70 safeguards and requires approval by two separate doctors within a prescribed time frame.

    It proposes access to voluntary euthanasia for people aged 18 years and over who have lived in South Australia for at least one year and have been diagnosed with an incurable illness, disease or medical condition.

    Their terminal condition must be deemed to cause suffering and expected to cause death within weeks or months.

    Shadow Attorney-General Kyam Maher discusses the bill with ABC Radio Adelaide's Ali Clarke.Download 1.2 MB

    Labor MLC and author of the bill Kyam Maher said it was a respectful and deeply emotional debate.

    "I want to thank the many South Australians who have been in touch with me on this issue over the last six months. It has been a rare privilege indeed to share some of the most intimate and difficult moments of your life," the Shadow Attorney-General said.

    "The fact that you take your time in those last precious moments to try and ensure that others don't have to suffer and go through what you do is an extraordinary thing.

    "It's the first time we've passed voluntary assisted dying through a chamber of Parliament in South Australia and now it goes to the Lower House in the coming weeks."

    Concerns loved ones could feel 'pressured'

    Labor MP Clare Scriven told Parliament she would not support the bill and voted against the proposed legislation.

    "No-one wants to see someone they love suffer, but there is clear evidence for those who care to look that safeguards in voluntary assisted dying are ignored or diluted in practice once voluntary euthanasia becomes legal," she said.

    "We need to ask do we want our loved ones to feel pressured to end their life, do we want our loved ones to feel they are a burden on society or on their family, do we want our loved ones to feel they have a duty to ask to die prematurely?"

    Liberal MP Dennis Hood also voted against the bill and instead advocated for better palliative care.

    "I contend that we should give these individuals who are in this precarious situation the opportunity for their pain to be relieved, before they take what might be the ultimate solution if you like and that is accept assisted suicide," Mr Hood said.

    The legislation will now be sent to the Lower House for a final vote.

    If passed in the Lower House, South Australia will become the fourth state in Australia to legalise euthanasia.  

    Voluntary assisted dying is lawful in Victoria, while Western Australia and Tasmania also passed legislation in favour of euthanasia.

    Tasmania's House of Assembly voted in favour of the proposed laws in March. Legislation allowing the process in Western Australian will come into effect on July 1.

    SA's Health Minister Stephen Wade voted in favour of the bill and said there was significant value in having national consistency of voluntary assisted dying legislation in Australia.

    "Consistency would support access, it would support quality and safe practice and it would reduce the pressure for what is sometimes called medical tourism," he said.

    "I support South Australia joining our sister states in enacting the Australian model of voluntary assisting dying."

    SA Greens parliamentary leader Tammy Franks said it was important that enough time was set aside for a full debate on the matter.

    "We've got it through one house, now we need to see it pass the Lower House," she said.

    "It's a conscience vote and a private members' bill, which means it often goes to languish in the one hour or so afforded for private members' business in the Lower House. I would hope that this bill will be treated differently.

    "Each and every MP will have to go through all of the fine detail, consider their position and debate the well over 100 clauses."

  • 23 Apr 2021 10:02 AM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    OPINION PIECE – Gisborne Herald

    Jack Havill

    Doctors for End-of-Life Choice New Zealand are dismayed and frustrated to see ongoing efforts to misinform the public about the November 7 introduction of legally-available voluntary assisted dying (VAD).

    Taxpayer-funded national broadcaster RNZ's investigative journalist Guyon Espiner has put forward a series of unfounded “concerns” on behalf of a group described as “palliative care”.

    He raises fears that insufficient doctors will be found to deliver assisted dying services and that doctors will be poorly trained “as in Victoria”. The Ministry of Health found recently that nearly 30 percent of doctors surveyed were willing or potentially willing to provide assisted dying services. That's about 5000 doctors. Given our strict eligibility criteria, very few patients will qualify for assisted dying. By way of comparison, Victoria which has a population 28 percent larger than that of New Zealand, completed 124 assisted deaths in the first year of availability.

    Regarding Espiner's relayed criticisms on training, upskilling in the 21st century is routinely undertaken via online courses and is generally thought to be a satisfactory means of delivery. We cannot imagine why this should be different for assisted dying.

    The Ministry's medical advisers are currently working out which drugs to use for greatest safety and efficacy. Espiner reports that, if oral ingestion is chosen by the patient, this will be a compound of “unapproved” drugs. The compounding (mixing) of drugs is common pharmaceutical practice and is undertaken using familiar components that are used in everyday medical practice. Victoria solved the problem by opting for a single point of compounding and distribution: the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Their compounded medication works as intended. New Zealand could simply do likewise.

    After two years of VAD practice in Victoria, there have been no failed administrations, even though most patients there self-administer orally. The June-December 2020 report tells us that 94 percent of the loved ones of patients who died a VAD death described the service as excellent, and the remainder described it as good.

    Doctors generally prefer the intravenous delivery of any drug that has the potential to be poorly tolerated if orally ingested. It is salutary, then, that our End-of-Life Choice Act offers the option of intravenous delivery.

    Espiner's interviewees anticipate “ethical and legal” conundrums in the extremely rare case of failed administration. They suggest that consent should be reconfirmed if a second attempt needs to be made.

    Palliative care's own answer to assisted dying is terminal sedation, the practice of deeply sedating the patient while discontinuing all nutrition and fluids. It can take two or more weeks to die in this way. While consent to continue is sometimes sought after the first few days, it would be downright unethical to re-awaken the patient in the later stages of starvation and dehydration. Yet palliative care feels comfortable to continue terminal sedation without re-confirmed consent.

    In jurisdictions culturally close to New Zealand, assisted dying has been overwhelmingly described by doctors, patients and families as a swift and peaceful release.

    Spain and the state of Tasmania passed assisted dying legislation in March. South Australia, Queensland and NSW will be debating similar legislation this year. The clock will not be turned back on assisted dying in the world of Westernised medicine. Patients want it. Doctors see the need for it.

    We respect our palliative care colleagues and fully support the expansion of their services. Some of them are members of our group. We do not support evangelisation of the anti-assisted dying rhetoric by a group purporting to speak for all palliative care practitioners. Above all, we do not support our national broadcaster being used to sow seeds of doubt where there need be none.

    ■ Dr Jack Havill is spokesman for Doctors for End-of-Life Choice NZ. He is a retired intensive care medicine specialist and lives in Hamilton.

  • 21 Apr 2021 12:26 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Dr Gary Palinda

  • 20 Apr 2021 6:08 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Unapproved use of an approved drug is often called “off-label” use. This term can mean that the drug is:

    • Used for a disease or medical condition that it is not approved to treat, such as when a chemotherapy is approved to treat one type of cancer, but healthcare providers use it to treat a different type of cancer.
    • Given in a different way, such as when a drug is approved as a capsule, but it is given instead in an oral solution.
    • Given in a different dose, such as when a drug is approved at a dose of one tablet every day, but a patient is told by their healthcare provider to take two tablets every day. (source:

    Dr Gary Payinda

  • 20 Apr 2021 11:06 AM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    In early April, Dutch activist group, CLW launched legal action against the Dutch state arguing that the prohibition on assisted suicide and assisted suicide drugs should be abolished. The Pushback: Towards a New Human Rights Debate is the topic of Exit’s 21st Podcast.

    If self-determination is a fundamental human right, CLW argue and if a nation State keeps this so-called right un-exercisable, it makes the right a false one and the State is, thus, acting unlawfully. The April ‘The Pushback: Towards a New Human Rights Debate’ Podcast seeks to examine the recent constitutional court decisions in Germany and Austria – decisions which serve as the model for the recent Dutch actions of group CLW. We examine, too, the plans of Ultime Liberte in France to follow suite, arguing that ‘fraternity’ a concept enshrined in the 1958 French Constitution is similarly worthy as a basis for a legal challenge towards individual autonomy.

  • 14 Apr 2021 10:08 AM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Andrew Denton investigates the stories behind Victoria’s landmark Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) law: Who seeks to use it, and why? Who are the doctors stepping forward to help them? And how does the Church continue to resist a law it describes as ‘evil’?

    New episodes out Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    More here »

  • 12 Apr 2021 12:19 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    The End of Life Options Act was approved by Governor Lujan Grisham in the USA state of New Mexico on 8 April 2021. The legislation was originally named for the late Hon. Elizabeth Whitefield, a distinguished and trailblazing member of the New Mexico legal community, who in her later years, after a terminal cancer diagnosis, became a fierce public advocate for dignity in dying. She died in 2018. 

    Read more »

    Judge Elizabeth Whitfield and her husband.

  • 29 Mar 2021 10:44 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Monday, 29 March 2021, 9:04 am

    End-of-Life Choice Society President Dr Mary Panko is pleased to see that the percentage of New Zealand doctors willing to provide assisted dying services has increased from 24% in 2018 to 30% in 2021. “This was anticipated, as it happens in every jurisdiction where assisted dying is legalised”, she said. “As doctors begin to realise that some of their patients may request active assistance to die under circumstances of intractable, irreversible suffering, they begin to prepare themselves to assist.”

    In March 2018, the NZ Doctor publication commissioned a survey by Horizon to determine the level of support among doctors for providing assisted dying services. The results showed that 24% would be willing to provide life-ending medication to an eligible patient for self-administration while 12% would be willing to directly administer the medication to the patient.

    But a survey of 1,900 doctors by the Ministry of Health in March 2021 shows the number of possibly or definitely willing doctors has risen to 30%.

    “The Society is working with Minister of Health Andrew Little during the establishment phase of the regulation,” said Dr Panko. “We want to ensure that fully protective safeguards are in place and also that access to the service is fairly and equitably distributed.”

    “Given the tightness of the eligibility criteria, we anticipate that only about 5% of patients will qualify for assisted dying. It may be that fewer than that will request it. So we believe, along with Minister Little, that an adequate workforce will be found.”

    Listen to EOLC President Mary Panko speaking on RNZ »

Better Off Dead

 – Andrew Denton

Season 2

Andrew Denton investigates the stories behind Victoria’s landmark Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) law: Who seeks to use it, and why? Who are the doctors stepping forward to help them? And how does the Church continue to resist a law it describes as ‘evil’? 

Listen to Season 1 »

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