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Thursday 1 November 2018
Most New Zealanders support some form of euthanasia or assisted dying, a review of 20 years’ research into Kiwis’ attitudes to euthanasia by University of Otago researchers reveals.
Radio NZ interview »
New Zealand is currently considering an End of Life Choice Bill. If the bill (or a modified form) passes, it would allow people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition, the option of making a voluntary choice over the timing of their death. Submissions are currently before the Justice select committee, with the committee due to report on the bill early next year.
The group of Otago researchers reviewed existing research investigating New Zealanders’ attitudes to euthanasia or assisted dying over the past 20 years.
Across all surveys, on average, 68.3 per cent of people support euthanasia and 14.9 per cent oppose legislation, while 15.7 per cent are neutral or unsure. A total of 36,304 people have been surveyed.
Lead author of the research review, Research Fellow Jessica Young, says the findings are consistent with international research.
“It seems that a majority of the public are open to the possibility of legislative change,” Ms Young says.
“It is less clear what forms of euthanasia or assisted dying New Zealanders think should be available, or when and how it should be accessible, though some form of regulation is expected.”
Survey questions typically ask respondents whether doctors should be allowed to assist a patient to die, at that patient’s request, where their condition is terminal or incurable and /or they are in pain.
Among studies that specifically differentiated between euthanasia (a lethal injection that is administered at the voluntary request of a competent patient by a doctor) and assisted dying (which the researchers define as when a person obtains a lethal prescription from a doctor and self-administers), support for a doctor to end a person’s life upon request was 67.9 per cent, whereas support for assistance from someone other than a doctor (eg, family) was only 48 per cent.
Overall, no differences were found between genders and results according to age appear to be mixed. Of all indicators of socio-economic status, only educational attainment was statistically significant, with lower educational attainment being associated with higher support for euthanasia. Those living rurally were found to be more supportive of euthanasia.
Support and opposition vary across health professional specialties with palliative care specialists being mostly opposed to euthanasia/assisted dying, whereas GPs are split more evenly between support and opposition.
Two important things missing from the review, Ms Young says, is research examining the attitudes of New Zealanders who are approaching the end of life, or people with disabilities.
While it is difficult to draw firm conclusions because of the variety of reporting methods, measures and parameters used within studies, it seems that a majority of the public are open to the possibility of legislative change.
The researchers’ conclude that specific research is needed to understand the views of potentially vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities, and to evaluate which conditions and safeguards New Zealanders believe should be available.
Other researchers involved in the review were Senior Lecturer Richard Egan, Lecturer Simon Walker, Assistant Research Fellow Anna Graham-DeMello and Consultant Medical Oncologist, Dr Chris Jackson. The review was supported by an Otago Medical School Research Grant and Division of Health Sciences Collaborative Research.
Link to the paper:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1177083X.2018.1532915
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by Graham Adams
Anyone keen to see assisted dying laws passed in New Zealand will be heartened by the increasing momentum of campaigns across the Tasman.
Read more »
"As a disabled person myself I want the choice, if I’m in unbearable pain or suffering in my life, to end it in a way and at the time that I choose. I think it’s really important my voice and the voice of other disabled people, who aren’t afraid of the End Of Life Choice Bill becoming legislation, are heard as much as people who are not as supportive of the Bill."
Source: The Economist
Canada’s assisted-dying law has taught Ellen Wiebe, a doctor, the importance of having control over your final days
By Anna Kelsey-Sugg for Saturday Extra
Intensive care specialist Ken Hillman believes it's become too hard to die.
When his grandfather died in 1959, it was in his own room at home, with little medical intervention.
"Most people's grandfathers died at home in those days, because the general practitioner was the last medical representative in that line. If he said 'there's nothing more to offer', then there was nothing more to offer," Professor Hillman says.
Continue reading »
Source: NZ Herald
After many years working in palliative care, Dr Libby Smales has seen the suffering that can be associated with dying and remains passionate about the value of good palliative care.
Source: Noted, NZ
Not wanting to be a burden is a valid reason for accessing assisted dying, writes Graham Adams, who is a cancer patient.
Source: Gisborne Herald, NZ
Religion doesn’t speak with one voice. This has recently been demonstrated with Judaism and Anglicanism in the matter of assisted dying. Traditionally, the hierarchy retains the moral absolutist position of black/white prohibitions according to the tenets of its ideology. That means an absolute “No” for assisted dying.
Attached is a Horizon Research report similar in form to the previous one done in June 2017.
This was commissioned by EOLC and includes 4 questions which have relevance to the debate on EOLC at the moment. It shows continued strong support for EOLC with very small numbers in opposition. A great piece of information to show to MPs or doubters as to the cause.Parts of it could also be used when you are giving an oral submission.
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