David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill

Say no to euthanasiaDavid Seymour, the sole MP for the political party ACT, submitted a new “End of Life Choice” Member’s Bill to Parliament on Wednesday.

The submission was not a surprise as he had announced earlier this year, after the high profile High Court case of Lecretia Seales, that this was a project he was working on.

Seales, who had terminal brain cancer, had sought approval from the Court to have her doctor assist her suicide.  However, the judge decided that it was not his role, but that of Parliament to decide whether euthanasia and/or assisted suicide should be legalised.

This new End of Life Choice Bill will, if it is selected from the ballot, force MPs to discuss the issue and decide if this is a path they want New Zealand to take.

“This Bill gives people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying” the explanatory note says.

Using emotional language, the Bill talks about “compassion” being the “motivation” so that “people who so choose, and are eligible under this Bill, to end their lives in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.”

It is attempting to hide the reality of what it is legalizing by using emotional and illusionary language.  Using terms like assisted dying, compassion and choice appeal to the sentiment, to the emotion, and not to reason.

What Seymour is proposing is a law which allows doctors to assist someone to commit suicide or to actually directly kill their patient!

A doctor’s role is one of care for their patients – not one of deliberate killing.

The Bill, if enacted, would allow people over the age of 18 to request euthanasia or assisted suicide if they:

  • Have a terminal illness and natural death is likely within six months or
  • Have a medical condition that is “grievous and irremediable”
  • Is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability
  • Has “unbearable suffering” that is not able to be relieved or is considered “tolerable”
  • Has the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of what they are requesting.

Like its predecessor, Maryan Street’s End of Life Choice Bill, these qualifications would allow anyone to put forward a case.

Of particular concern is that a person can have a medical condition that is “grievous and irremediable” and be eligible for assisted suicide/euthanasia.  This is exacerbated by the clause that says the person must have “unbearable suffering” which cannot be relieved or is perceived as not “tolerable”.

People with any number of conditions could fall under this category…  Those with Multiple Sclerosis, depression, diabetes.

And if you think that is far fetched we only need to look to these cases in Belgium to see how the law can be stretched to allow for any case:

Seymour claims that “analysis of overseas jurisdictions where assisted dying is permitted demonstrates that concerns, including concerns about abuse of the vulnerable, have not materialized and that risks can be properly managed through appropriate legislative safeguards.”

But the safeguards only make people feel better about the legislation.  They don’t work in practice to protect the vulnerable at all.

A timely example of how vulnerable people can be at risk occurred just days ago when a 12-year-old girl in Spain was starved to death by her parents.  The law in that region allows “every person suffering from irreversible, incurable diseases, and in a terminal state, the right to reject surgical procedures, including hydration, feeding and artificial resuscitation.”

In Belgium, euthanasia is now legal for all children and also for patients with dementia.  In the Netherlands, under the Groningen Protocol, babies under the age of one and often presenting with Spina Bifida or hydrocephals, can be killed.

Also of serious concern is the clause that states “a person is immune from liability in civil or criminal proceedings for acts or omissions in good faith and without negligence in providing or intending to provide assisted dying.”  This clause makes it very difficult for anyone who has acted outside the law to be brought to justice.

This is the fourth attempt by MPs to legalise euthanasia and/or assisted suicide in New Zealand.  The first attempt was in 1995.  That Bill was defeated at its first reading 61 to 29.  A second attempt in 2003 was also defeated at the first reading 60/58.

A third Bill, also called End of Life Choice, was introduced in 2012 By Labour MP Maryan Street.  However, she was forced to withdraw the Bill from the ballot in 2013, as it was seen by her party to be too contentious a topic to be debated in an election year.

While the new End of Life Choice Bill has many similarities to Street’s original, it is not the same Bill.

It comes at a time with the Health Select Committee is investigating public attitudes toward euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The terms of reference for that inquiry are:

  • The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life
  • The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives
  • The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation
  • International experiences

All New Zealander’s are able to make a submission on this need to be made prior to Monday 1st February 2016.

Submissions can be made to:

Committee Secretariat
Health
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

Phone: +64 4 817 9541
Fax: +64 4 499 0486

Submission can also be made online.  Details on how to do this can be found on the NZ Parliament website.

The value of accepting suffering

Alison Davis and Colin Harte
Alison Davis and Colin Harte

 

One of the most inspirational people I have ever met came in the form of a very fragile woman, Alison Davis.

What a grace and wonderful moment to meet her and her devoted caregiver of more than twenty years, Colin Harte.   Motivational speakers and leaders of all manner and kind can speak eloquent words and bring societal change about through their social and verbal skills.  They can take thousands and even millions of people on a journey in their life that brings a perceived hope and bring change to the world in which they live.  BUT this lady, reached to the very soul of my being.   The only other person in my life having this profound effect was Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

The very moment I first met Alison, I knew deep within my soul that I was in the presence of a very holy and very grace-filled woman.  Alison suffered with many illnesses in her life including Spina Bifida and being confined to a wheel chair all her life. She required a caregiver – a companion – twenty four hours, seven days a week to assist her with her personal cares.

Alison’s story is a testament to the real value of accepting suffering in our lives.  Alison was always a very joyful and thoughtful woman, full of love and compassion for all those she met. Despite being in constant pain and discomfort a lot of the time and despite not having any physical independence in her life, Alison championed the rights of the disabled and handicapped to be respected and assisted where needed.  Above all she fought for the rights of her fellow disabled community to have the right to life.  She founded the UK Disability Rights group, No less Human and travelled internationally (including New Zealand), to speak on disability rights and against voluntary euthanasia.

Alison grew up as an atheist.  She wanted to die on several occasions and almost succeeded. It was the care and determination of a true lady friend who helped her break the cycle of wanting to die. She would sit with Alison, removing all instruments within reach that she could use to harm herself.  It was this friend who persisted and who remained a faithful and true advocate for Alison’s life, that eventually gave her the hope and trust and a desire to live her life in a happy and meaningful way.

Then Alison was blessed with a new caregiver, who was destined for the priesthood.  He was to take care of Alison for just a few weeks, but continued on, staying at Alison’s home and providing her with the most loving an devoted care imaginable until Alison died in 2013.  She was 58 years old.

In the midst of intense suffering, Alison discovered the existence of God and His great love for her. She became a Catholic.  She accepted completely the Catholic Church as the repository of truth and the giver of life.  With the integrity of much experience she spoke of suffering with Christ as “the greatest privilege possible in the world.”

We had become good friends from the start, and the absolute love and joy given out from Alison to our own three special needs children surpassed any eloquent inspiring preacher or speaker I have ever heard.

From a wretched, unhappy, pain ridden young woman, who had despaired and had so much wanted to die… to a woman of hope, joy, and expectation and simplicity of heart.  Alison had a very intelligent and great mind, and spent her life writing and  speaking to advocate for the most vulnerable, in particular those in danger of euthanasia or assisted suicide.

I will always remember Alison for her amazing capacity to love – always with a gentle smile, regardless of the suffering she was enduring internally.  In her weakness she was very strong.

Euthanasia not on the horizon… for now

Say no to euthanasiaNews that Labour MP, Iain Lees-Galloway will not resubmit the End of Life Choice Bill is warmly welcomed.

The bill had been inherited by Lees-Galloway, as its earlier sponsor, Maryan Street, failed to be re-elected into Parliament in the recent general election.  But any attempt to resubmit the bill by Lees-Galloway has been squashed by new Labour leader, Andrew Little.

Although Little is not opposed to euthanasia he believes there are more important issues to deal with as the party attempts to rebuild.  In a Herald article he is quoted as saying:

It’s not about avoiding controversy but it’s about choosing the controversies that are best for us at this point in time. That stuff on euthanasia, it isn’t the time for us to be talking about that.

So for the time being, it looks like euthanasia will not be on the political horizon.

However, this does not mean that we should rest.  There is much work to be done.  The pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby are working very hard to change the general public’s view of end of life issues.

It should also be noted that another MP, either from Labour or another political party, could also take the opportunity to submit the End of Life Choice bill – or a similar one.

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Euthanasia Free NZ released an excellent press release on the issue, which I publish here in full:

Labour congratulated on withdrawing bill

Euthanasia Free NZ – Press Release

Euthanasia-Free NZ congratulates Labour leader Andrew Little and MP Iain Lees-Galloway for resisting sponsorship of the ex-Maryan Street voluntary euthanasia bill.

The End-of-Life Choice Bill proposes legal assisted suicide and euthanasia for anyone over 18 who has either a terminal condition which could end their life in 12 months, or an irreversible physical or mental medical condition that the person feels makes their life unbearable. It would effectively legalise euthanasia for anyone with a chronic physical or mental illness, disability, ageing-related condition or any condition for which a person refuses further treatment.Euthanasia-Free NZ congratulates Labour leader Andrew Little and MP Iain Lees-Galloway for resisting sponsorship of the ex-Maryan Street voluntary euthanasia bill.

“Public support for voluntary euthanasia is overestimated and based on unscientific online polls that ask an uninformed public to respond to leading questions couched in euphemisms”, says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

“Hence, many people confuse “assisted dying” (a euphemism) with switching off life support, withdrawing or refusing treatment and ‘do-not-resuscitate’ orders. However, euthanasia actually involves a doctor administering lethal drugs by injection in a way similar to overseas executions. Assisted suicide involves a person swallowing lethal drugs prescribed by their doctor.”

Many are ignorant of studies showing that up to 35% of doctor-assisted deaths involve complications such as uncontrolled vomiting, epileptic fits and delayed death. It is hardly ‘death with dignity”. Many don’t know that witnessing the assisted death of a loved one carries the same risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as Iraqi war veterans have.”

A common misconception is that euthanasia and assisted suicide are purely private matters. That is not so. Both require the involvement of another party to execute, hence are public matters. Legalising euthanasia means making it legal for one person to be involved in deliberately ending the life of another person. Calling it “mercy killing” can hide a multitude of motives, including elder abuse.

Many are unaware that uncontrolled pain is not the reason why people request euthanasia or assisted suicide. The actual reasons are existential, such as being less able to engage in enjoyable activities and fear of being a burden. A high proportion of requests are from depressed people. A UK study of the terminally ill showed that 98% of those wanting to die changed their minds after being treated for depression.

The unintended consequences of euthanasia legislation are unknown to many. Several depressed, but otherwise healthy, Belgians have been euthanised. Many naively believe that legal euthanasia can be regulated and that safeguards can prevent coercion and subtle pressure on vulnerable people to request death. It is not so.

Two 2010 studies on assisted deaths in Flanders, Belgium, show that only 53% of cases were reported and of these, less than three-quarters followed legal requirements. 32% of euthanasia deaths were without the patient’s request. In half of these, death was the wish of family. In 20% of cases improvement in the person’s medical condition was still possible. 92% of victims killed without consent were 65 years or older.

Dr Theo Boer, who initially supported euthanasia and reviewed about 4000 cases as a member of a Dutch Regional Euthanasia Commission, is now warning other countries not to make the mistake The Netherlands did in legalising euthanasia. Our parliamentarians would do well to heed his advice.

ENDS

Speaking out against euthanasia

Euthanasia: Killing or Caring?Maryan Street’s End of Life Choice Bill may have been withdrawn from the ballot, however, efforts to garner more support from the general public for legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand have not disappeared.

Without the direct possibility of the draft bill being drawn from the ballot and being debated and voted on in the house, pro-euthanasia advocates are utilising every possible opportunity to promote their agenda.  That way, when the time comes, and the Bill is replaced into the ballot and drawn, public opinion will, they hope, have been swayed enough to make this attempt an easy win.

The news site Stuff is currently running stories written by the public about euthanasia.  So far, the majority are pro-euthanasia, although the odd pro-life article has managed to get through.

Stuff are asking you to contribute with these questions in mind?

Should the government look in to a law change around terminally ill people choosing to end their own lives? How did you or do think you would feel if a close relative battling illness asked you to assist them in ending their own life?

Do you think the government should step in and make changes, or is this not an issue that should be up for debate?

In these busy days leading up to the joyous celebration of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, it is difficult to find time for anything outside of our commitments.  This assignment though, is an important one.  One that is worth the time and effort.  Your opinion matters.  Your voice needs to be heard.  Please join me (and the few others that have already done so) in speaking up for life and for Truth.

You might find the following helpful:

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide by Fr Clovis

Euthanasia: What it is and what it is not

Top reasons why euthanasia hurts individuals and society

Declaration on Euthanasia Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) John Paul II

Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering) John Paul II

Kill the pain not the patient:  A 17-year-old speaks out on euthanasia by Lia Mills

Recent news stories from around the world on euthanasia can be found here.

Alison Davis, a blessing to the world

alisonandcolininlourdescroppedToday, the passing of a great woman has profoundly touched my life.

Alison Davis was someone that I never met personally, although she was a friend of my mother’s.  Alison lived on the other side of the world, in the UK.  We live in New Zealand.

Through a series of events which can only be described as the Hand of God, Alison met my mother, Colleen, and subsequently was able to come to New Zealand in 2009 to share her story.

You see, Alison was no ordinary woman.

Alison’s life was one of great suffering.  Born with spina bifida, she also had hydrocephalus, osteoporosis and a host of other conditions that at times made her pain unbearable.  Alison also suffered from mental anguish.

For ten long years, Alison wanted to die.  The pain was so much, the desire not to live so strong, that on numerous occasions Alison attempted suicide.  She says that if euthanasia or assisted suicide were legal, she would have taken it.

But in time Alison found real hope.  And in that hope she embraced her suffering.  I am sure she offered up her suffering as a sacrifice in reparation for so many outrages against God.  I know too that she offered her pain for those who needed her prayers.

The world has been blessed to have such a dedicated, inspiring woman walk amongst us.  Her life, I am sure, will continue to inspire, continue to encourage and continue to be a voice for the most vulnerable in our society today  the weak, the disabled, the unborn and those whose lives are deemed “unworthy of living”.

New Zealand MP withdraws euthanasia bill from ballot

Maryan Streetby Michelle Kaufman
Reposted from LifeSiteNews.com

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, September 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a dramatic move, New Zealand’s Labour MP, Maryan Street has withdrawn her End of Life Choice Bill from the parliamentary ballot box.

The draft euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation would, if drawn from the ballot, have seen the issue being debated in an election year. The Labour party earlier asked Street to consider withdrawing the bill as it was seen to be a negative distraction.

Many leading groups have already expressed opposition to the legislation, including the New Zealand Medical Association and Hospice New Zealand.

Street explained that she did not want her bill debated in an election year saying, “I’m concerned that it would not get the treatment it deserves. It needs sober, considered reflection, and that’s not a hallmark of election years in my experience.”

While Street has vowed to put the End of Life Choice Bill back into the ballot after the 2014 elections, groups who oppose the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide are seeing this as an opportunity to further educate the New Zealand public and MPs about the dangers.

Euthanasia Free NZ’s spokesperson, Professor Emeritus David Richmond, called for a redoubling of efforts on the part of all groups and organisations opposed to the bill to alert the public of the danger to society, including the loss of human freedom.

Richmond also said that the one-sided nature of the debate held so far in New Zealand has led to the situation where a majority of residents have said in polls that they support legalised euthanasia. He put this down to the media, the simplistic nature of the questions asked and ignorance among the general public of the wider issues involved.

According to critics, the draft legislation had major loopholes which would have seen just about anyone being able to request drugs to end their life. They also charged that it provided opportunities for elder abuse, already is a big problem in New Zealand.

A highly contentious provision in the bill that would have provided immunity from civil and criminal liability for any person, whether professional or lay, who failed to carry out the law properly through act or omission “in good faith.”

Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke takes credit for higher elderly suicide rate in New Zealand

Dr Philip Nitschkeby John Jalsevac and Michelle Kaufman
Re-posted from LifeSiteNews.com

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, September 18 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Top euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has taken partial credit for the increase in the suicide rate among elderly men in New Zealand that was revealed in recently released statistics.

According to the new statistics, the average suicide rate was 12.10 per 100,000 across the population for the year ending June 2013, but the rate for men aged 85 years plus was 31.38 per 100,000.

While the total number of suicides among 85+ men only amounted to nine for the year, the increase has sparked concern in the country, with Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean saying that more research is needed to determine the cause.

MacLean also asserted that it can be difficult to differentiate “slow suicide” among the elderly from euthanasia. “That’s the person that’s starving themselves, refusing their medication, simply giving up the will to live. It merges sometimes with euthanasia and that’s a very grey area,” he said.

However, Exit International, the group founded by euthanasia and assisted suicide advocate Dr Philip Nitschke, said it was not surprised by the news, stating in a press release, “Exit has also been instruments (sic) in providing elderly New Zealanders with supplies of MaxDog nitrogen.”

“As a society we should not be alarmed by this trend,” said Nitschke, “and taking steps to prevent access to new developments in end of life strategies or end of life drugs would be counterproductive, forcing people to use undignified and often ineffective methods”.

Nitschke also alleged that the suicide rate among the elderly might even be higher, pointing out that nitrogen can be difficult to detect, making a death look natural.

Professor Emeritus David Richmond, spokesperson for Euthanasia Free New Zealand, called Exit International’s provision of information and products to commit suicide an “un-neighbourly contribution to the suicide rate.”

He also expressed concern that in order for any such deaths to look natural, someone would have to assist in the suicide.

“Under such circumstances, no-one could be certain whether the unfortunate event was a genuine suicide or whether it involved a relative killing an elderly person for personal gain. Given the high levels of elder abuse in New Zealand, such concerns are not fanciful,” he said.

An End of Life Choice Bill is currently in the ballot box in the country. If it were to be drawn and then passed, anyone over the age of 18 could obtain permission to end their lives due to “unbearable suffering”.

Richmond said that he fears that if the legislation were to be passed “the State would surely be seen to be favouring Dr. Nitschke’s triumphalistic attitude towards suicide rates to the neglect of the opinion of a responsible majority of its citizens who, like Judge MacLean, are deeply concerned about them.”

Professor Emeritus David Richmond will be speaking at the Rise Up Together in the Service of Life Conference, which will be held 27th to 29th September 2013 at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, Auckland. Hosted by Family Life International NZ.