Poll support for euthanasia

A poll on euthanasia shows 62.9% for and 12.3% opposed:

For euthanasia:

  • men 62.6
  • women 63.1
  • Maori, Pakeha and Indian 65
  • Pacific Island 61.5
  • Asian 55.3
  • aged 45-54 71.6
  • aged 55-64 65.3

The majority of people (66.9 per cent) also supported the introduction of End of Life Directives – legal documents that outline a person’s wish for medically assisted death should the issue arise.

Support grows for euthanasia

A Horizon Research poll released today found 62.9 per cent of respondents supported the move, 12.3 per cent were opposed.

The poll involved 2969 adults who self-selected to participate online between July 5 and 20.

It has a margin of error of 1.8 per cent.

Horizon polls have had a few question marks but this is quite a strong lean towards support.

Husband assisting wife’s suicide

This is a sad case:

No conviction for man who helped wife die

Mr Mott, 61, pleaded guilty to assisting the suicide of his wife Rosie Mott who was diagnosed several years ago with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis, a degenerative condition for which there is no cure.

The 55-year-old’s health deteriorated rapidly and her husband, Evans Mott, agreed to help research suicide methods and assemble a kit with which she could kill herself.

Mrs Mott waited until the birth of a grandchild late last year and spent a final Christmas with her family before making the decision to end her life.

 She asked her husband to leave her alone in their Auckland home, and he returned several hours later to find her dead.

Justice Patricia Courtney ruled that the consequences of a conviction for Mr Mott would be out of proportion to the gravity of the offence. But she emphasised her decision was based on the particular circumstances of Mr Mott’s case.

“I think it’s a miracle. It’s so good that New Zealand has the vision to say what is right and wrong,” said Evans Mott a few minutes after his sentencing at the High Court at Auckland today.

“It couldn’t be a better legacy for Rosie, thank God some good has come of this. What more can I say?

“Commonsense prevails. It’s commonsense. People should have the right to choose [when to die]“

It would make more common sense if we had reasonable euthanasia laws so this wouldn’t have gone anywhere near a courthouse.

Euthanasia, the PM and the current situation

The Prime Minister has been reported commenting on euthanasia and that’s started more discussion, including on Kiwiblog:

PM on Euthanasia - this relates to a Stuff report.

There’s been an excellent comment in the thread at Kiwiblog that I think sums up the current situation very well.

  1. annie  Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 2:51 pm Euthanasia: the PM is, quite simply, lying. Presumably he’s the victim of some of the medical misinformation that seems routinely to come his way.Euthanasia in the sense of a permitted, planned death, doesn’t take place in our hospitals, or if it does it is rare and usually involves the rather vile method of witholding fluids from an unconscous patient who will never recover. But who, if the evidence is to be believed, can still experience thirst.

    You may, if you are fortunate enough to have a humane hospital physician who puts your welfare above that of his/her own immortal soul, be given enough opiates to render you pain-free, even at the risk of causing a respiratory arrest. On the other hand, and more usually in busy hospitals, you may just be left to get on with it. However, if you start looking comfortable, forget any further dose increases.

    The hospices encourage the view that they are little oases of calm and comfort, and indeed to a significant extent they are. But not all people have a good response to opiates – for many they don’t do a hell of a lot. You can give 10mg of morphine to a person with severe acute appendicitis and render them comfortable; to another person of the same weight and gender the same dose will just take a tiny edge off. For instance. Cancer pain is no different.

    More importantly, the hospices don’t see, supervise or admit all patients, and in many cases don’t do it well. Te Omanga in Lower Hutt is an excellent hospice; but if you live in other cities you can’t be assured that you will even be seen – some hospices seem to be pretty quick to work to rule if they get full, and to hell with the leftovers.

    This sort of bland ignorance on the PM’s part is not only disappointing, it’s positively harmful to the facts of the debate. We need both decent palliative care and the option for voluntary euthanasia. At the moment we have neither.

There’s an excellent hospice in Dunedin, I don’t know how you can do it better, but I have seen firsthand how that doesn’t necessarily avoid an uncomfortable, anguished and ignominious death.

And I agree – there is some decent palliative care, it needs to be more widely and easily available.

Should euthanasia law be decided by parliament or referendum?

Maryan Street’s  End of Life Choice bill (euthanasia) has been added to the Member’s Bill ballot and will need to be drawn to proceed. There’s been some interesting blog discussion about it.

One question that came up was whether any final decision should be made by MPs and parliament, or by people via a referendum.

Graeme Edgeler has confirmed that the final referendum option is feasible:

July 24th, 2012 at 11:21 am

Basically, you go through a whole Parliamentary process, debate the full implications of everything and come up with a fully fleshed out proposal, which is drafted as legislation. It passes all its readings, but only comes into force if a majority of people voting at a referendum answer the question: do you support the proposed system of legalised euthanasia contained in the End of Life Choice Act 2014? in the affirmative.

However I have emailed Maryan Street about this and she has responded:

No, I would never consider this issue as one to be decided by referendum. It is too complex an issue for that. It is exactly the sort of issue which requires thoughtful legislation, not the kind of reductive approach required by referenda.

This doesn’t rule it out – for example, if enough MPs are in favour then Street’s bill could be amended to make a referendum a final decision.

Graeme Edgeler responds…

MPs will be faced with the same simplistic, reductive question at the third reading. They get one vote on one question: those who think this bill should become law, say “Aye”, those opposed say “No”. Those who wanted it, but in a different form, covering more or less, or having some different scheme of safeguards will be faced with the same question:

given what the select committee and the committee of the whole house have adopted, do I support the bill in its present form becoming law?

That is no more reductive than a referendum.

…and also explains the ‘reductive approach’:

What’s a “reductive approach” when it’s at home?

A reductive approach to a matter like this is one that is reduced to a simple yes/no question:

e.g. do you support a law change to provide for voluntary euthanasia for adults with terminal illnesses?

Getting public opinion on such a question is largely meaningless in drafting a law which people may actually agree with.

So, should parliament decide on this (should the bill get drawn from the ballot) or should people make the final decision via referendum?

End of Life Choice bill (euthanasia)

Maryan Street (Labour list MP) has announced she is putting her End of Life Choice bill in the Members Bill ballot this week.

I have, after 6 months’ work, finished my End of Life Choice Bill. You can find it here.

I think the social conversation has moved on from the last time such a bill was debated in 2003 and lost 60-58. The two missing votes at that time were one abstention and one voted not lodged. So that was close.

I hope I have enough specificity and enough safeguards in place for people to support it this time. I am sure it can be improved.

I am equally sure that is time that we approached this issue with compassion and gave people the right to be as self-determining at their point of death as they have been in life. It would only apply to people who were of sound mind and suffered from a terminal illness, or an irreversible condition which made their life unbearable, in their own view.

It also provides for people to register End of Life Directives in the event that these situations occur and they are unable to communicate their wishes to receive life-ending medication.

Other features include:

  • the need for two medical practitioners to attest that the person is of sound mind, has the condition they say they have and have not been coerced into their decision;
  • the need for counselling and a period of reflection;
  • and a Review Body to examine the law after a period of time to ensure it is not being abused and is operating correctly.

Let me know your thoughts.
(Comments on Red Alert blog).

Discussion on this also on:

[This bill is an excellent example of an opposition MP putting their time to good use. Other opposition MPs could do less campaigning and more work developing bills that are important to constituents. - PG]

Odd urge to withdraw euthanasia bill

Labour MP Maryan Street has drafted a voluntary euthanasia bill and plans to put it  in the member’s ballot.

National MP Paul Hutchison is suggesting she should withdraw her bill.

Street’s euthanasia bill untimely and unclear

Media release from Paul Hutchison

It is concerning that Maryan Street said she took up the bill because ‘she could not think of a reason not to’. Though she says the Bill is ‘predominantly to do with terminal physical illness’, part of the Bill refers to ‘end of life directives’ for those that suffer from an irreversible medical or mental condition that, in their view, renders their life unbearable. Including both medical and mental conditions could well lead to confusion.

Dr Hutchison says euthanasia and assisted suicide are complex areas where there are grey zones in law and in practice.  However, modern care and knowledge, along with significant advances in technology, provide huge help.

“In April ‘Hospice New Zealand’ has published a ‘Quality Review Programme and Guide 2012′ of standards for palliative care.  It describes the unique and interwoven roles of primary care services and specialist palliative care services to provide high quality palliative care and end of life care to all people in New Zealand.

“I vividly remember Peter Brown’s private members bill which was narrowly lost in the Parliament in 2003.  Peter spoke passionately and sincerely regarding the awful time his late wife had during her terminal illness.  However, on talking to him, I couldn’t help think that if he and his wife had received the skilled services that are available today, their suffering could well be far less.”

Dr Hutchison says that deep concern has been raised regarding the euthanasia laws in the Netherlands and Belgium where required safeguards have allegedly not been adhered to, resulting in people being euthanized without proper informed consent.

“Like anything as definitive as capital punishment, it is always possible for errors to occur. At least Maryan Street admits this,” says Dr Hutchison.

Labour MP Maryan Street’s ‘End of Life Choice Bill’ is couched in terms that might be liberal and hopeful.  However, Dr Hutchison says her proposal could set New Zealand on a regressive path.  It could also deprive many New Zealanders and their families from taking advantage of the wonderful facilities, compassion and expertise that are available to them during a terminal illness, when the greatest human qualities so often shine through.

“In my view Maryan Street should withdraw her bill.” says Dr Hutchison.

This is odd. Hutchison’s statement is untimely – he presumably hasn’t seen Street’s bill yet.

And it’s unclear why she should withdraw a bill because one MP requests it. Parliament is there for all MPs to decide on issues.

Sure, there are complexities and concerns, but it’s an important issue and surely parliament is the right place to examine the whole issue.

Also covered by TV3: MP urged to withdraw euthanasia bill

TV3 Think Tank Sunday 9.30 am – Euthanasia

On TV3′s Think Tank, Sunday 8 July, 9.30am

EUTHANASIA
Are there dangers we need to be aware of, or is it time we legalised Euthanasia?
John Tamihere and guests:

  • Barrister Charl Hirschfeld
  •  Anglican Priest- Hirini Kaa
  • Labour MP -Maryann Street
  • Euthanasia Advocate -Dr Jack Havill

Euthanasia’s number 1 question

Euthanasia keeps coming up in ducsussion and debate. There is a ‘major anti-euthanasia conference’ in Auckland this weekend. Alex Schadenberg, International Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition was interviewed on Q+A this morning alongside Labour MP Maryan Street, who’s drafting a new law to allow ‘end of life choice’.

There are many pros and cons on this complex issue of end of life issue, including euthanasia.

  • There are problems now with extending lives using modern medicine.
  • There are issues with right’s to choice.
  • There are potential problems with euthanasia.

The status quo is far from perfect. People are forced to die in situations they desperately wanted to avoid. And any change will introduce new potential dangers.

But the main argument should not be pro euthanasia versus anti euthanasia.

Generally speaking, dying is crap, and some people have to suffer very crappy deaths.

The biggest question should be whether any change would overall be better or worse than how things currently are.

More euthanasia links and information.

Euthanasia debate podcasts

Podcasts of the recent Euthanasia debate are available:

‘Euthanasia and assisted suicide: A discussion we need to have’ Panel: Professor Sean Davison, Hon. Maryan Street, MP, Professor Grant Gillett, John Kleinsman, Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan Chair: Professor Paul Trebilco. This event includes the presentation of a research paper on attitudes towards euthanasia in New Zealand by Thomas Noakes-Duncan.

Source: Podcasts from the Centre for Theology & Public Issues
http://www.otago.ac.nz/ctpi/resources/podcasts/otago028678.html

Related posts:

Voluntary Euthanasia in New Zealand
Voluntary Euthanasia in New Zealand: An Analysis of Compassion, Autonomy, and Secularism in the Public Sphere
By: Thomas M. I. Noakes-Duncan

Euthanasia discussion – comments
Here are some of the comments from Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide — A Discussion We Need To Have held in Dunedin on Thursday.

Davison: time to talk (Euthanasia)

Sean Davison has written a  letter to the editor of ODT, repeating that it’s a time to talk, and thinks it’s also time for a law change.

Time to talk about dying

One of the main reasons to publish was to open the public’s eyes to the issues surrounding the deaths of our loved ones and encourage debate on a change in the law. Society is now embracing issues that have previously been uncomfortable to deal with such as sexuality, homosexuality, contraception, Aids, abortion and drug abuse.

These are no longer taboo subjects for dinner table and classroom discussions and this opening up has surely resulted in a better educated and more understanding society.

I believe we are now ready to discuss the complex issues around death and dying. By openly discussing these issues, it also helps prepare us for death and may make us less afraid. Death is something we all must face.

I believe there is public support for a law change and I hope our politicians will take notice. New Zealand has led the world in social and cultural reform. Now I believe we are ready to lead the world in dealing with this complex issue.

The issue of voluntary euthanasia is a challenge to the whole human race and is one of the greatest challenges facing our humanity.

It is a challenge to get the right balance of free choice of how people die while protecting them from pressure to make a decision. It cam be a very emotive topic, but one a modern society should be able to handle sensibly.

Labour MP Maryan Street’s End of Life Choice Bill is still being worked on, and once in the members bill ballot would have to be drawn if it was to be dealt with by Parliament.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 184 other followers