The Nation – housing again

Today on The Nation:

We take a look at the housing crisis. talks to about whether the Govt’s doing enough on social housing.

As Akl’s average house price breaks the million dollar barrier how do we hit the brakes? and John Bolton weigh in.

, , and are on the panel, with and on the Twitter panel

Migration is cyclical. Unaffordable prices cyclical AND structural.

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Social housing stock in New Zealand

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Affordability has been worsening for decades.

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Little: “That stuff on euthanasia, it isn’t the time for us to be talking about that”

Labour leader Andrew Little has criticised John Key ‘dodging’ the euthanasia issue. This would be fair criticism – except that Little has not just dodged the issue, he

From Act plans assisted dying bill:

Mr Little has accused Mr Key of trying to dodge the issue by refusing a Government move on it. But he has also ruled out a change in Labour’s decision not to put in a bill, saying his party’s preference was for a select committee inquiry.

Last term Labour MP Maryan Street had a Member’s bill on euthanasia, and that was taken over by Iain Lees-Galloway. But Little stomped on that.

Labour MP drops euthanasia bill

A bill which would legalise voluntary euthanasia has been dropped by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway at the request of his leader Andrew Little.

Mr Lees-Galloway had been canvassing support for his End of Life Choice Bill before deciding whether to return it to the private members’ bill ballot.

But Mr Little confirmed yesterday that he had told Mr Lees-Galloway not to put it in the ballot because it was not an issue Labour should be focused on when it was rebuilding.

“It comes down to priorities at the moment,” Mr Little said. “We are very much focused on … jobs and economic security.

“There are more people affected by weak labour market regulation and weak economic strategy than they are about the right to make explicit choices about how they die.”

Mr Little said Labour was still a socially progressive party under his leadership.

“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 Little has already dodged dealing with euthanasia. Criticising Key for not doing anything is highly hypocritical of Little, who deliberately kept a bill out of the ballot.

Little: “That stuff on euthanasia, it isn’t the time for us to be talking about that”.

So ACT’s Seymour took over Labour’s bill. Little looks more than a little hypocritical for criticising Key for trying to dodge the issue.

Oregon Death With Dignity Act

In discussions about euthanasia (like Collins and Goff on euthanasia today on Kiwiblog) the Oregon example is often mentioned.

A summary (from Wikipedia ht SGA):

Under the law, a competent adult Oregon resident who has been diagnosed, by a physician, with a terminal illness that will kill the patient within six months may request in writing, from his or her physician, a prescription for a lethal dose of medication for the purpose of ending the patient’s life. Exercise of the option under this law is voluntary and the patient must initiate the request. Any physician, pharmacist or healthcare provider who has moral objections may refuse to participate.

The request must be confirmed by two witnesses, at least one of whom is not related to the patient, is not entitled to any portion of the patient’s estate, is not the patient’s physician, and is not employed by a health care facility caring for the patient.

After the request is made, another physician must examine the patient’s medical records and confirm the diagnosis.

The patient must be determined to be free of a mental condition impairing judgment. If the request is authorized, the patient must wait at least fifteen days and make a second oral request before the prescription may be written.

The patient has a right to rescind the request at any time.

Should either physician have concerns about the patient’s ability to make an informed decision, or feel the patient’s request may be motivated by depression or coercion, the patient must be referred for a psychological evaluation.

The law protects doctors from liability for providing a lethal prescription for a terminally ill, competent adult in compliance with the statute’s restrictions. Participation by physicians, pharmacists, and health care providers is voluntary. The law also specifies a patient’s decision to end his or her life shall not “have an effect upon a life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy.”

From the Oregon Publ;c Health Authority:

On October 27, 1997 Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act requires the Oregon Health Authority to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the Act, and publish an annual statistical report.

A number of links are provided, including to the statute:

Oregon Revised Statute

Note: The division headings, subdivision headings and leadlines for 127.800 to 127.890, 127.895 and 127.897 were enacted as part of Ballot Measure 16 (1994) and were not provided by Legislative Counsel.
Please browse this page or PDF Documentdownload the statute for printing – (or read the statute athttps://www.oregonlegislature.gov)

127.800 s.1.01. Definitions.

The following words and phrases, whenever used in ORS 127.800 to 127.897, have the following meanings:

(1) “Adult” means an individual who is 18 years of age or older.

(2) “Attending physician” means the physician who has primary responsibility for the care of the patient and treatment of the patient’s terminal disease.

(3) “Capable” means that in the opinion of a court or in the opinion of the patient’s attending physician or consulting physician, psychiatrist or psychologist, a patient has the ability to make and communicate health care decisions to health care providers, including communication through persons familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating if those persons are available.

(4) “Consulting physician” means a physician who is qualified by specialty or experience to make a professional diagnosis and prognosis regarding the patient’s disease.

(5) “Counseling” means one or more consultations as necessary between a state licensed psychiatrist or psychologist and a patient for the purpose of determining that the patient is capable and not suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgment.

(6) “Health care provider” means a person licensed, certified or otherwise authorized or permitted by the law of this state to administer health care or dispense medication in the ordinary course of business or practice of a profession, and includes a health care facility.

(7) “Informed decision” means a decision by a qualified patient, to request and obtain a prescription to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner, that is based on an appreciation of the relevant facts and after being fully informed by the attending physician of:

(a) His or her medical diagnosis;

(b) His or her prognosis;

(c) The potential risks associated with taking the medication to be prescribed;

(d) The probable result of taking the medication to be prescribed; and

(e) The feasible alternatives, including, but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care and pain control.

(8) “Medically confirmed” means the medical opinion of the attending physician has been confirmed by a consulting physician who has examined the patient and the patient’s relevant medical records.

(9) “Patient” means a person who is under the care of a physician.

(10) “Physician” means a doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed to practice medicine by the Board of Medical Examiners for the State of Oregon.

(11) “Qualified patient” means a capable adult who is a resident of Oregon and has satisfied the requirements of ORS 127.800 to 127.897 in order to obtain a prescription for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.

(12) “Terminal disease” means an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within six months. [1995 c.3 s.1.01; 1999 c.423 s.1]

(Written Request for Medication to End One’s Life in a Humane and Dignified Manner)

(Section 2)

127.805 s.2.01. Who may initiate a written request for medication.

(1) An adult who is capable, is a resident of Oregon, and has been determined by the attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, and who has voluntarily expressed his or her wish to die, may make a written request for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner in accordance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897.

(2) No person shall qualify under the provisions of ORS 127.800 to 127.897 solely because of age or disability. [1995 c.3 s.2.01; 1999 c.423 s.2]

127.810 s.2.02. Form of the written request.

(1) A valid request for medication under ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall be in substantially the form described in ORS 127.897, signed and dated by the patient and witnessed by at least two individuals who, in the presence of the patient, attest that to the best of their knowledge and belief the patient is capable, acting voluntarily, and is not being coerced to sign the request.

(2) One of the witnesses shall be a person who is not:

(a) A relative of the patient by blood, marriage or adoption;

(b) A person who at the time the request is signed would be entitled to any portion of the estate of the qualified patient upon death under any will or by operation of law; or

(c) An owner, operator or employee of a health care facility where the qualified patient is receiving medical treatment or is a resident.

(3) The patient’s attending physician at the time the request is signed shall not be a witness.

(4) If the patient is a patient in a long term care facility at the time the written request is made, one of the witnesses shall be an individual designated by the facility and having the qualifications specified by the Oregon Health Authority by rule. [1995 c.3 s.2.02]

(Safeguards)

(Section 3)

127.815 s.3.01.Attending physician responsibilities.

(1) The attending physician shall:

(a) Make the initial determination of whether a patient has a terminal disease, is capable, and has made the request voluntarily;

(b) Request that the patient demonstrate Oregon residency pursuant to ORS 127.860;

(c) To ensure that the patient is making an informed decision, inform the patient of:

(A) His or her medical diagnosis;

(B) His or her prognosis;

(C) The potential risks associated with taking the medication to be prescribed;

(D) The probable result of taking the medication to be prescribed; and

(E) The feasible alternatives, including, but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care and pain control;

(d) Refer the patient to a consulting physician for medical confirmation of the diagnosis, and for a determination that the patient is capable and acting voluntarily;

(e) Refer the patient for counseling if appropriate pursuant to ORS 127.825;

(f) Recommend that the patient notify next of kin;

(g) Counsel the patient about the importance of having another person present when the patient takes the medication prescribed pursuant to ORS 127.800 to 127.897 and of not taking the medication in a public place;

(h) Inform the patient that he or she has an opportunity to rescind the request at any time and in any manner, and offer the patient an opportunity to rescind at the end of the 15 day waiting period pursuant to ORS 127.840;

(i) Verify, immediately prior to writing the prescription for medication under ORS 127.800 to 127.897, that the patient is making an informed decision;

(j) Fulfill the medical record documentation requirements of ORS 127.855;

(k) Ensure that all appropriate steps are carried out in accordance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897 prior to writing a prescription for medication to enable a qualified patient to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner; and

(L)(A) Dispense medications directly, including ancillary medications intended to facilitate the desired effect to minimize the patient’s discomfort, provided the attending physician is registered as a dispensing physician with the Board of Medical Examiners, has a current Drug Enforcement Administration certificate and complies with any applicable administrative rule; or

(B) With the patient’s written consent:

(i) Contact a pharmacist and inform the pharmacist of the prescription; and

(ii) Deliver the written prescription personally or by mail to the pharmacist, who will dispense the medications to either the patient, the attending physician or an expressly identified agent of the patient.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the attending physician may sign the patient’s death certificate. [1995 c.3 s.3.01; 1999 c.423 s.3]

127.820 s.3.02. Consulting physician confirmation.

Before a patient is qualified under ORS 127.800 to 127.897, a consulting physician shall examine the patient and his or her relevant medical records and confirm, in writing, the attending physician’s diagnosis that the patient is suffering from a terminal disease, and verify that the patient is capable, is acting voluntarily and has made an informed decision. [1995 c.3 s.3.02]

127.825 s.3.03. Counseling referral.

If in the opinion of the attending physician or the consulting physician a patient may be suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgment, either physician shall refer the patient for counseling. No medication to end a patient’s life in a humane and dignified manner shall be prescribed until the person performing the counseling determines that the patient is not suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgment. [1995 c.3 s.3.03; 1999 c.423 s.4]

127.830 s.3.04. Informed decision.

No person shall receive a prescription for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner unless he or she has made an informed decision as defined in ORS 127.800 (7). Immediately prior to writing a prescription for medication under ORS 127.800 to 127.897, the attending physician shall verify that the patient is making an informed decision. [1995 c.3 s.3.04]

127.835 s.3.05. Family notification.

The attending physician shall recommend that the patient notify the next of kin of his or her request for medication pursuant to ORS 127.800 to 127.897. A patient who declines or is unable to notify next of kin shall not have his or her request denied for that reason. [1995 c.3 s.3.05; 1999 c.423 s.6]

127.840 s.3.06. Written and oral requests.

In order to receive a prescription for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner, a qualified patient shall have made an oral request and a written request, and reiterate the oral request to his or her attending physician no less than fifteen (15) days after making the initial oral request. At the time the qualified patient makes his or her second oral request, the attending physician shall offer the patient an opportunity to rescind the request. [1995 c.3 s.3.06]

127.845 s.3.07. Right to rescind request.

A patient may rescind his or her request at any time and in any manner without regard to his or her mental state. No prescription for medication under ORS 127.800 to 127.897 may be written without the attending physician offering the qualified patient an opportunity to rescind the request. [1995 c.3 s.3.07]

127.850 s.3.08. Waiting periods.

No less than fifteen (15) days shall elapse between the patient’s initial oral request and the writing of a prescription under ORS 127.800 to 127.897. No less than 48 hours shall elapse between the patient’s written request and the writing of a prescription under ORS 127.800 to 127.897. [1995 c.3 s.3.08]

127.855 s.3.09. Medical record documentation requirements.

The following shall be documented or filed in the patient’s medical record:

(1) All oral requests by a patient for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner;

(2) All written requests by a patient for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner;

(3) The attending physician’s diagnosis and prognosis, determination that the patient is capable, acting voluntarily and has made an informed decision;

(4) The consulting physician’s diagnosis and prognosis, and verification that the patient is capable, acting voluntarily and has made an informed decision;

(5) A report of the outcome and determinations made during counseling, if performed;

(6) The attending physician’s offer to the patient to rescind his or her request at the time of the patient’s second oral request pursuant to ORS 127.840; and

(7) A note by the attending physician indicating that all requirements under ORS 127.800 to 127.897 have been met and indicating the steps taken to carry out the request, including a notation of the medication prescribed. [1995 c.3 s.3.09]

127.860 s.3.10. Residency requirement.

Only requests made by Oregon residents under ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall be granted. Factors demonstrating Oregon residency include but are not limited to:

(1) Possession of an Oregon driver license;

(2) Registration to vote in Oregon;

(3) Evidence that the person owns or leases property in Oregon; or

(4) Filing of an Oregon tax return for the most recent tax year. [1995 c.3 s.3.10; 1999 c.423 s.8]

127.865 s.3.11. Reporting requirements.

(1)(a) The Health Services shall annually review a sample of records maintained pursuant to ORS 127.800 to 127.897.

(b) The division shall require any health care provider upon dispensing medication pursuant to ORS 127.800 to 127.897 to file a copy of the dispensing record with the division.

(2) The Health Services shall make rules to facilitate the collection of information regarding compliance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897. Except as otherwise required by law, the information collected shall not be a public record and may not be made available for inspection by the public.

(3) The division shall generate and make available to the public an annual statistical report of information collected under subsection (2) of this section. [1995 c.3 s.3.11; 1999 c.423 s.9]

127.870 s.3.12. Effect on construction of wills, contracts and statutes.

(1) No provision in a contract, will or other agreement, whether written or oral, to the extent the provision would affect whether a person may make or rescind a request for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner, shall be valid.

(2) No obligation owing under any currently existing contract shall be conditioned or affected by the making or rescinding of a request, by a person, for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner. [1995 c.3 s.3.12]

127.875 s.3.13. Insurance or annuity policies.

The sale, procurement, or issuance of any life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy or the rate charged for any policy shall not be conditioned upon or affected by the making or rescinding of a request, by a person, for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner. Neither shall a qualified patient’s act of ingesting medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner have an effect upon a life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy. [1995 c.3 s.3.13]

127.880 s.3.14. Construction of Act.

Nothing in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall be construed to authorize a physician or any other person to end a patient’s life by lethal injection, mercy killing or active euthanasia. Actions taken in accordance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall not, for any purpose, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing or homicide, under the law. [1995 c.3 s.3.14]

(Immunities and Liabilities)

(Section 4)

127.885 s.4.01. Immunities; basis for prohibiting health care provider from participation; notification; permissible sanctions.

Except as provided in ORS 127.890:

(1) No person shall be subject to civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action for participating in good faith compliance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897. This includes being present when a qualified patient takes the prescribed medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.

(2) No professional organization or association, or health care provider, may subject a person to censure, discipline, suspension, loss of license, loss of privileges, loss of membership or other penalty for participating or refusing to participate in good faith compliance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897.

(3) No request by a patient for or provision by an attending physician of medication in good faith compliance with the provisions of ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall constitute neglect for any purpose of law or provide the sole basis for the appointment of a guardian or conservator.

(4) No health care provider shall be under any duty, whether by contract, by statute or by any other legal requirement to participate in the provision to a qualified patient of medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner. If a health care provider is unable or unwilling to carry out a patient’s request under ORS 127.800 to 127.897, and the patient transfers his or her care to a new health care provider, the prior health care provider shall transfer, upon request, a copy of the patient’s relevant medical records to the new health care provider.

(5)(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a health care provider may prohibit another health care provider from participating in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 on the premises of the prohibiting provider if the prohibiting provider has notified the health care provider of the prohibiting provider’s policy regarding participating in ORS 127.800 to 127.897. Nothing in this paragraph prevents a health care provider from providing health care services to a patient that do not constitute participation in ORS 127.800 to 127.897.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (1) to (4) of this section, a health care provider may subject another health care provider to the sanctions stated in this paragraph if the sanctioning health care provider has notified the sanctioned provider prior to participation in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 that it prohibits participation in ORS 127.800 to 127.897:

(A) Loss of privileges, loss of membership or other sanction provided pursuant to the medical staff bylaws, policies and procedures of the sanctioning health care provider if the sanctioned provider is a member of the sanctioning provider’s medical staff and participates in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 while on the health care facility premises, as defined in ORS 442.015, of the sanctioning health care provider, but not including the private medical office of a physician or other provider;

(B) Termination of lease or other property contract or other nonmonetary remedies provided by lease contract, not including loss or restriction of medical staff privileges or exclusion from a provider panel, if the sanctioned provider participates in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 while on the premises of the sanctioning health care provider or on property that is owned by or under the direct control of the sanctioning health care provider; or

(C) Termination of contract or other nonmonetary remedies provided by contract if the sanctioned provider participates in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 while acting in the course and scope of the sanctioned provider’s capacity as an employee or independent contractor of the sanctioning health care provider. Nothing in this subparagraph shall be construed to prevent:

(i) A health care provider from participating in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 while acting outside the course and scope of the provider’s capacity as an employee or independent contractor; or

(ii) A patient from contracting with his or her attending physician and consulting physician to act outside the course and scope of the provider’s capacity as an employee or independent contractor of the sanctioning health care provider.

(c) A health care provider that imposes sanctions pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subsection must follow all due process and other procedures the sanctioning health care provider may have that are related to the imposition of sanctions on another health care provider.

(d) For purposes of this subsection:

(A) “Notify” means a separate statement in writing to the health care provider specifically informing the health care provider prior to the provider’s participation in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 of the sanctioning health care provider’s policy about participation in activities covered by ORS 127.800 to 127.897.

(B) “Participate in ORS 127.800 to 127.897” means to perform the duties of an attending physician pursuant to ORS 127.815, the consulting physician function pursuant to ORS 127.820 or the counseling function pursuant to ORS 127.825. “Participate in ORS 127.800 to 127.897” does not include:

(i) Making an initial determination that a patient has a terminal disease and informing the patient of the medical prognosis;

(ii) Providing information about the Oregon Death with Dignity Act to a patient upon the request of the patient;

(iii) Providing a patient, upon the request of the patient, with a referral to another physician; or

(iv) A patient contracting with his or her attending physician and consulting physician to act outside of the course and scope of the provider’s capacity as an employee or independent contractor of the sanctioning health care provider.

(6) Suspension or termination of staff membership or privileges under subsection (5) of this section is not reportable under ORS 441.820. Action taken pursuant to ORS 127.810, 127.815, 127.820 or 127.825 shall not be the sole basis for a report of unprofessional or dishonorable conduct under ORS 677.415 (2) or (3).

(7) No provision of ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall be construed to allow a lower standard of care for patients in the community where the patient is treated or a similar community. [1995 c.3 s.4.01; 1999 c.423 s.10]

Note: As originally enacted by the people, the leadline to section 4.01 read “Immunities.” The remainder of the leadline was added by editorial action.

127.890 s.4.02. Liabilities.

(1) A person who without authorization of the patient willfully alters or forges a request for medication or conceals or destroys a rescission of that request with the intent or effect of causing the patient’s death shall be guilty of a Class A felony.

(2) A person who coerces or exerts undue influence on a patient to request medication for the purpose of ending the patient’s life, or to destroy a rescission of such a request, shall be guilty of a Class A felony.

(3) Nothing in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 limits further liability for civil damages resulting from other negligent conduct or intentional misconduct by any person.

(4) The penalties in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 do not preclude criminal penalties applicable under other law for conduct which is inconsistent with the provisions of ORS 127.800 to 127.897. [1995 c.3 s.4.02]

127.892 Claims by governmental entity for costs incurred.

Any governmental entity that incurs costs resulting from a person terminating his or her life pursuant to the provisions of ORS 127.800 to 127.897 in a public place shall have a claim against the estate of the person to recover such costs and reasonable attorney fees related to enforcing the claim. [1999 c.423 s.5a]

(Severability)

(Section 5)

127.895 s.5.01. Severability.

Any section of ORS 127.800 to 127.897 being held invalid as to any person or circumstance shall not affect the application of any other section of ORS 127.800 to 127.897 which can be given full effect without the invalid section or application. [1995 c.3 s.5.01]

(Form of the Request)

(Section 6)

127.897 s.6.01. Form of the request.

A request for a medication as authorized by ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall be in substantially the following form:

REQUEST FOR MEDICATION

TO END MY LIFE IN A HUMANE

AND DIGNIFIED MANNER

I, ________________, am an adult of sound mind.

I am suffering from _______, which my attending physician has determined is a terminal disease and which has been medically confirmed by a consulting physician.

I have been fully informed of my diagnosis, prognosis, the nature of medication to be prescribed and potential associated risks, the expected result, and the feasible alternatives, including comfort care, hospice care and pain control.

I request that my attending physician prescribe medication that will end my life in a humane and dignified manner.

INITIAL ONE:

_____ I have informed my family of my decision and taken their opinions into consideration.

_____ I have decided not to inform my family of my decision.

_____ I have no family to inform of my decision.

I understand that I have the right to rescind this request at any time.

I understand the full import of this request and I expect to die when I take the medication to be prescribed. I further understand that although most deaths occur within three hours, my death may take longer and my physician has counseled me about this possibility.

I make this request voluntarily and without reservation, and I accept full moral responsibility for my actions.

Signed: ___________

Dated: ___________

DECLARATION OF WITNESSES

We declare that the person signing this request:

(a) Is personally known to us or has provided proof of identity;

(b) Signed this request in our presence;

(c) Appears to be of sound mind and not under duress, fraud or undue influence;

(d) Is not a patient for whom either of us is attending physician.

__________ Witness 1/Date

__________ Witness 2/Date

NOTE: One witness shall not be a relative (by blood, marriage or adoption) of the person signing this request, shall not be entitled to any portion of the person’s estate upon death and shall not own, operate or be employed at a health care facility where the person is a patient or resident. If the patient is an inpatient at a health care facility, one of the witnesses shall be an individual designated by the facility.

[1995 c.3 s.6.01; 1999 c.423 s.11]

PENALTIES

127.990

[Formerly part of 97.990; repealed by 1993 c.767 s.29]

127.995 Penalties.

(1) It shall be a Class A felony for a person without authorization of the principal to willfully alter, forge, conceal or destroy an instrument, the reinstatement or revocation of an instrument or any other evidence or document reflecting the principal’s desires and interests, with the intent and effect of causing a withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures or of artificially administered nutrition and hydration which hastens the death of the principal.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (1) of this section, it shall be a Class A misdemeanor for a person without authorization of the principal to willfully alter, forge, conceal or destroy an instrument, the reinstatement or revocation of an instrument, or any other evidence or document reflecting the principal’s desires and interests with the intent or effect of affecting a health care decision. [Formerly 127.585]

Lecretia Seales judgement to be announced on Friday

RadioLive report:

Lecretia Seales & attorney have received full judgement from Justice Collins tonight. They’ll hold press a conference tomorrow in Wellington

Tim Fookes Morning Show

UPDATE: The family of terminally ill Wellington woman Lecretia Seales say they’ve received a decision from the High Court in her right to die case.

But they say the judgement won’t be made available to the public until tomorrow afternoon.

Breaking: the Lecretia Seales judgment is in. Embargo to be lifted at 3pm tomorrow, with press conference from family to follow after.

Submissions on climate change

One way lobbyists/activists try to claim they represent public opinion is by making mass submissions on issues. It’s then common to see them claim that the number of submissions is some sort of democratic measure.A Dunedin City Councillor did this recently.

It isn’t a democratic measure of public process, it’s a use of a democratic process, consultation.

The Ministry of the Environment has been consulting on climate change. Here is an example of activists trying to load up the submission numbers with guides and templates. Oil Free Otago’s aim is obvious.

Aotearoa must make a commitment to more than a 40% reduction of emissions, the time to act is now, and the government must STOP subsidising the fossil fuel industry!

And they detail their advice and encourage submissions. Fair enough, they are free to do this in our democratic process, but I would view their claims with caution and wouldn’t accept their claims without question.

Aotearoa has the responsibility to be a world leader. Make a submission to the MFE before 3 June 2015.

WANT SUBMISSION GUIDANCE?

 If you can only say one thing, say this:

The most important thing is to protect New Zealand from dangerous temperature and sea level rises. At the very minimum, a 40% emissions reduction by 2030 is necessary to prevent serious effects to our way of life, our economy and our environment. While this target is to start in 2020, the time to act is now.

WANT OTHER IDEAS?

Make it personal:

As a parent, I’m concerned about how climate change will shape my children’s future.

I’m concerned about climate change because it affects our native wildlife. According to Forest and Bird, tuatara and albatross are already suffering the effects.

As a Christian, I believe we must stand in solidarity with the people who are on the frontlines of climate change, like our neighbours in the Pacific.

As a doctor, I’m concerned about the increasing health risks to New Zealanders.

Mention the following:

1.The Government’s consultation document treats action on climate change as a cost. Actually, it is failure to take action that will cost us. Climate change is a threat to our economy and the things it most depends on, like tourism and farming. Our agricultural nation depends on a stable climate.

2. Responding to climate change is worth our while. A cleaner greener future offers huge opportunities for our country, including better transport choices, safer streets for cycling and walking, good jobs in the rail and renewables industries and export opportunities for green technology.

3. The Government consultation materials suggest that New Zealand’s unique circumstances make reducing carbon pollution challenging. This ignores the enormous gains we can make by investing in better transport choices, including rail freight, cycling and public transport.

4. I request that you stop downplaying our responsibility for climate change saying New Zealand is too small to make a difference. It’s not in our national character to sit on the fence and watch others get the job done.

5. Some public meetings were announced with less than a week’s notice and very little publicity. I’m concerned that you’re not taking the views of New Zealanders seriously.

6. The government must cease subsidising the fossil fuel industry.

Ask a question:

-Why is the government funding, recruiting and subsidising the fossil fuel industry when we know climate change is an issue facing us now?

-Can other countries take our commitments seriously if meanwhile our government organisation, NZ Petroleum and Minerals is recruit fossil fuel companies to drill up our EEZ?

-Why has the Government provided so little notice for this consultation?

– How will submissions to the consultation be used to inform the Government’s target?

– Will the results of the consultation be made public?

– When will the Government announce the results of the consultation and New Zealand’s target?

– Has the Government done any analysis to assess the cost of not acting on climate change? Such as the impact of drought and floods on our farming sector?

– Has the Government done any analysis to assess the benefits of acting on climate change? Such as more jobs in the green tech sector or health benefits through reduced air pollution?

Helpful facts and stats:

– According to Ministry for the Environment projections, current policies are putting New Zealand on course for a 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This is happening at a time when all the technology exists for us to reduce our pollution.

– According to the New Zealand Climate Change Centre, time in drought could triple in NZ by 2040, extreme rainfall and flooding could increase by 32%.

– According to the journal, Science, one in six species is at risk of extinction due to climate change. Risks are highest in New Zealand, Australia and South America.

Aotearoa has the responsibility to be a world leader. Make a submission to the MFE before 3 June 2015.

Read the ODT article: Climate Change Target Moral Not Economic Question

Check out this blog FossilFools for student and supporter, Siana’s take on the meeting.

FossilFools blog by Siana

When a mass of very similar submissions are received most will recognise them as an organised campaign to try and boost numbers for a particular point of view.

What is ‘sanctity of life’?

John Roughan supoprts the ‘sanctity of life’ without knowing what it is. In NZ Herald:

Here’s hoping the High Court can robustly defend the sanctity of life, writes John Roughan.

I’d have been very quiet, assuming most of those around me were friends and supporters of the 42-year-old woman with an inoperable brain tumour. When her battery of lawyers argued that her wish ought to be a matter between Lecretia and her doctor and that it was nobody else’s business, I’d have been asking myself, why do I care? Why am I here?

All I know is that I do not want her to take her own life, with or without assistance, and nor does the law but I don’t know why.

Ms Seales has a general practitioner who is prepared to kill her when she asks. Mr Curran suggested it could be done by changing a saline solution to a lethal substance. I know this offends me. I just need better minds to tell me why.

So Roughan wants to make a decision on someone else’s life but doesn’t know why.

I’d have come back the next day hoping to hear the Solicitor General, Mike Heron QC, provide a profound answer.

Reports from the court quote him saying the sanctity of life was a fundamental principle of the common law. “The principle recognises that human life is a basic, intrinsic good.” The law was designed also to protect the vulnerable.

“The right not to be killed is enjoyed regardless of inability or disability.”

But the Seals case is not about a right not to be killed. It’s about a claimed right to choose a less awful, more dignified way to die.

What is ‘sanctity of life’?

A The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity David P. Gushee writes:

The “sanctity of life” is a phrase that in recent decades became commonplace in the moral and political debates concerning a wide range of bioethical issues: abortion, embryo research, cloning, genetic engineering, euthanasia, and others. Generally it is used by those of us who oppose technologies or practices that we believe violate the intrinsic value of human life. Some of us who use the term employ it more broadly to denote an ethical approach concerned not just with a handful of bioethical issues but the entire range of moral problems that human beings face, from abortion to poverty, from war to the death penalty, from child abuse to the environment.

I am concerned that for many Christians “the sanctity of life” is little more than a culture wars slogan rather than the product of serious reflection. As a slogan it then evokes equally unthinking resistance from those who react negatively to anything that reminds them of (conservative) Christianity. And despite the thousands of uses of the term “sanctity of life” that can be found in any Google search, the phrase actually seems to be fading a bit from our consciousness. It feels a bit musty, a relic of the 1980s. This is most unfortunate.

From Wikipedia:

The phrase sanctity of life refers to the idea that human life is sacred and holy, argued mainly by the pro-life side in political and moral debates over such controversial issues as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, and the “right to die” in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries. (Comparable phrases are used in other languages.) Although the phrase was used primarily in the 19th century in Protestant discourse, after World War II the phrase has been appropriated for Roman Catholic moral theology and, following Roe v. Wade,evangelical moral rhetoric.[1]

In Western thought, sanctity of life is usually applied solely to the human species (anthropocentrism, sometimes called dominionism).

This religious connection isn’t surprising considering the definition of ‘sanctity’.

the state or quality of being holy, sacred, or saintly.

1350-1400; < Latin sānctitās holiness, equivalent to sānct- (see Sanctus ) + -itās -ity; replacing Middle English sauntite < Anglo-French < Latin

So it’s based on religion and not on the ‘laws’ (realities) of nature.

Roughan wrote:

Reports from the court quote him saying the sanctity of life was a fundamental principle of the common law.

Is it? There’s been the occasional war in history that have ignored any principle of ‘sanctity of life’.

Laws in many countries allow executions. Laws in New Zealand allowed for executions until 1989, that’s only 26 years ago. So the sanctity of life was a hardly a fundamental principle of the common law. Roughan and Solicitor General, Mike Heron QC were alive in 1989.

If sanctity of life is just a religious concept then why don’t those who believe in it comply with it, and why can’t those who don’t choose when and how they die if the want to?

What’s the big deal if someone chooses to die, whether by euthanasia or by suicide?

Sure, suicide in particular can be very sad for those close to the person who has died. But so can many other ways of dying.

But ultimately the ‘right to life’ is at best only temporary for all of us. In the whole scheme of things if some people choose to end their lives a few weeks, months or even years earlier than they might otherwise survive to then so what?

Claiming there’s some inviolable ‘sanctity of life’ could be little more than sanctimonious imposition of a narrow and recent belief system.

Lecretia Seales case closes with thanks from judge

Radio NZ sums up the final day of the Lecretia Seales right-to-die case in Judge thanks woman for right-to-die case.

Lecretia Seales, 42, has terminal brain cancer and said in her statement of claim she will face a choice between taking her own life or suffering a slow and painful death, if a doctor cannot lawfully help her die.

Ms Seales wants clarification of whether the Crimes Act prevents a doctor from helping her to die without then being charged themselves.

If Justice Collins finds it does then she wants him to consider whether a ban on assisted dying under the Crimes Act is contrary to her human rights under the Bill of Rights Act.

Solicitor-General Michael Heron, QC…

…argued that New Zealand’s constitution meant such changes had to be made through Parliament rather than through a court; Parliament had considered euthanasia three times in recent years and each time rejected a law change enabling it.

Human Rights Commission lawyer Dr Matthew Palmer:

 the court had the jurisdiction to make a ruling.

Victoria Casey, a lawyer for vulnerable persons umbrella group Care Alliance, said…

…it would effectively legalise assisted dying on demand, leaving groups such as the elderly and the disabled at risk.

Euthanasia was legal in the Netherlands, where 97 people with dementia there had been euthanised in 2013, and there had been a “dramatic” increase in the euthanasia of people with long-term psychiatric illnesses, she said.

“When you combine this with New Zealand’s well-documented problems with elder abuse and the neglect and abuse of the elderly and disabled in care, the prospects are … chilling.”

Voluntary Euthanasia Society lawyer Kate Davenport, QC, said…

…what Ms Seales wanted her doctor to do by prescribing medicine to relieve an aspect of her suffering could not be classed as either homicide nor assault.

“If what Ms Seales’ general practitioner is seeking to do can properly be defined as treatment, then it doesn’t fall within the definition of the Crimes Act,” she said.

That was particularly so, given it was up to Ms Seales to decide whether or not she took the medicine prescribed.

Ms Seales’ lead lawyer Dr Andrew Butler said, in closing…

…sometimes ethics drove the law and sometimes the law drove ethics.

He said it would be wrong to leave the issue to Parliament to deal with.

“You cannot allow the Crown to come along and say ‘leave it to Parliament to have a debate about it’ when there’s no prospect of such a debate occurring and there has never even been select committee hearings on the topic,” he said.

Justice Collins closed the case by…

…thanking Ms Seales for taking the action and said he would endeavour to make a quick decision.

“It is obviously a matter of extreme importance to you but also is extremely important to the way in which medicine and law is conducted in this country,” he said.

He told the lawyers their submissions, both written and oral, had been “exceptional” and said it had been a “privilege” to listen to them.

“I only hope that my judgement will ultimately do justice to the quality of those submissions.”

Some will be happy with his judgement, some won’t.

I can’t find any indication of when the judgement is expected to be made.

Davis backs talk with sexual violence walk

Kelvin Davis promised to campaign against sexual and domestic violence when he was elected for the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. He’s putting his talk into action.

On Friday Davis and several friends will begin a Massive (Men Against Sexual Violence) 17-day hikoi to raise awareness around sexual violence, starting at the Auckland Harbour Bridge and plans to arrive in Cape Reinga on June 14.

Stuff reports Kelvin Davis walking the talk highlighting sexual and domestic violence.

Davis says it isn’t a new issue and for decades women and children have carried the secret but it was time for everyone – men in particular – to speak out.

Good on him, I agree men should be speaking out more.  And it’s not always easy as it can come up against resistance, as Davis recalls:

He was working only a six-minute drive down the road from Pamapuria School where paedophile school teacher James Parker was deputy principal. Parker was sentenced in 2013 for more than 300 offences.

Five years before Parker’s atrocities were revealed, Davis had held a meeting with a number of community leaders about the increasing amount of sexual and domestic violence in the Northland region.

In just three weeks he had heard of 13 incidents but when he expressed his outrage at the meeting it was met with deathly silence.

His pleas to do something were met with concern about whether the region could cope with “what might come out of the woodwork” if the issue was exposed.

Not wanting to expose what’s been happening ‘in the woodwork’ has protected sexual offenders for far too long.

“Five years later and the James Parker stuff happened and I kicked myself for not backing my instincts. If I’d done something more when I’d first had concerns about it then maybe we could have done something to have stopped him hurting more victims.”

So now Davis is prepared to raise the issue right through his electorate.

So many people spent their time navel gazing about the high youth suicide rate when “in most cases you can guarantee there was sexual violence or domestic violence in the background”, he claimed.

That kind of upbringing ruined a child’s potential, he said.

“Teachers are trying to teach kids when their heads are full of what happened last night when Uncle snuck in the bedroom and teachers are wondering why kids are gazing out the window and totally not interested.”

Domestic violence generally and particularly sexual violence and offending cause many problems in families and throughout society. Damage can last for a lifetime.

This is sleeves rolled up representation so top marks to Kelvin for confronting what has long been a dirty secret.

Lecretia Seales case: “LITIGATING FOR A MORE PEACEFUL DEATH”

Kathryn Tucker (Disability Rights Legal Center, Los Angeles) and Andrew Geddis (University of Otago) preview the Seales v Attorney General case.

Modern medicine can extend life to an extent that a patient dying of a terminal illness may feel trapped. Suffering can become unbearable. Some patients want to obtain medication from their doctor that they could ingest to achieve a peaceful death, an option known as aid in dying.

However, a lack of clarity in New Zealand law presents an obstacle to dying patients who wish to obtain such assistance in this country. Under the Crimes Act 1961, s 179:

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who—

(a) incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit suicide, if that person commits or attempts to commit suicide in consequence thereof; or

(b) aids or abets any person in the commission of suicide.

A doctor who respects to a competent, terminally ill patient’s right to make end of life choices and provides aid in dying thus risks prosecution and conviction if the patient’s act to achieve a peaceful death is considered “suicide” (see, e.g., R v Mott [2012] NZHC 2366; R v Davison [2011] NZHC 1677). The lack of clarity in the law creates an uncertain legal environment making it very difficult for competent, terminally ill persons to die as they prefer: peacefully, on their own terms, with help from a medical professional, avoiding the final cruel bit of suffering caused by their illness.

A significant majority of New Zealanders support empowering patients suffering from terminal illnesses or unbearable pain to have access to aid in dying, with polls ranging from 60-82% approval. Reports of such strong public support for this compassionate option have been consistent for some fifteen years.

Unfortunately, public support for providing a clear legal path for patients wishing to access aid in dying has not translated into parliamentary action.

Full article: LITIGATING FOR A MORE PEACEFUL DEATH

Their conclusion:

Who should decide? There are those who will argue, no doubt, that this is no place for the courts and that it should be left to Parliament to address matters in this arena.

Two points may be made about this claim. First of all, this is the courts’ business in that Parliament has specifically given it the task of interpreting and applying laws in ways that are consistent with the individual rights under the NZBORA. Using that interpretative power to clarify the scope of the challenged law is a perfectly respectable judicial function, authorised by Parliament; indeed it is a quintessential judicial duty and responsibility.

Second, a declaration that s 179 of the Crimes Act does not cover aid in dying does not necessarily end the matter. If Parliament really thinks that aid in dying ought be a crime, then it can respond by amending the Crimes Act to make it clear that a doctor providing aid in dying is a criminal. Of course, were it to do so, Parliament would be doing something in conflict with the views of the great majority of New Zealanders. But if it really wants to do it, it can.

Consequently, we believe that there is a very strong case for recognising that existing law does not reach the conduct of a physician providing a mentally competent terminally ill patient in New Zealand with means to achieve a peaceful death. We hope for Ms Seales’ sake, and that of others who find themselves in her position, that we are correct. Now we wait to see if Collins J agrees with us in the High Court.

The case has been running since Monday and is due to conclude tomorrow.

Why shouldn’t Lecretia Seales choose when and how she dies?

It’s quite sad to see that Lecretia Seals has to go to court during the last weeks of her life to find out whether New Zealand law would allow her doctor to assist her in choosing when and how she dies.

If the court rules against her then I think our laws need to be reconsidered.

It should be a fundamental right of anyone to choose for themselves about their own death, if they have the opportunity (many of us don’t get any choice through circumstances).

Ironically on TC right now there is an advertisement for funeral cover insurance. It’s fine to choose what happens to you after you die, but you may not be able to choose how or when you die.

Stuff reports: Lecretia Seales’ case for doctor-assisted death begins in Wellington

What terminally ill lawyer Lecretia Seales is proposing as an option to end her life does not amount to suicide, but is the opposite of it, a court has been told.

Her lawyer, Andrew Butler, said she wanted the law to be interpreted in a way that was consistent with her human rights, so it would allow a doctor to give her the means to die, or help her to die. Her doctor has agreed to help her if it is legal.

Seales says she would want that option. One of her alternatives was to take her own life while she is still physically able.

“I really want to be able to say goodbye well,” she said in written evidence to the court.

Having her doctor help her to die was not suicide, it was the opposite of it, and would allow her to live longer than if suicide was the only way to end her suffering before her pain became intolerable, Butler said.

Overseas evidence suggested terminally ill people lived longer if they knew they had the ability to get aid in dying. Some people felt relieved just having the prescription for medication that could end their lives, whether or not they ultimately chose to use it.

Her tumour had caused paralyis to the left side of Seales’ body, and she could no longer read, Butler said. The latest prediction was that she might have only weeks left, and palliative care might not be able to take away her suffering.

He quoted Professor Michael Ashby, an Australian palliative care expert, who said in written evidence that such care had its limitations and it was possible that it would be unable to help Seales.

There was a significant risk of her being bedridden and totally dependent for weeks before her death, which was likely to be hard to endure.

For someone as driven as Seales, the loss of autonomy and self-sufficiency could make the illness intolerable, Ashby said. Palliative care was likely to be of little benefit to those with psychological and emotional suffering.

Her GP, whose name is suppressed, said Seales did not have depression or a low mood, and was mentally competent to make decisions. She seemed positive, and determined to enjoy her life as long as possible.

An oncologist’s evidence was that palliative care would probably give good relief of pain, but loss of physical and mental capacity could be helped only to a minimal extent.

I’ve seen palliative care in action – the best possible palliative care within the current law (as the hospice understands it).

Yes, good pain relief was provided. When it became apparent that my mother was in pain she was given more pain relief in careful doses. She was often in pain and the nurses and doctors reacted by giving her more pain relief – after pain had obviously caused discomfort.

But there was also substantial non-pain discomfort. My mother stopped living because of spreading cancer, but also because she stopped eating and stopped drinking. The end for her took about a week. I was with her for much of that time and it was harrowing.

I had also been with her a lot for much of her illness and had discussed her options. She had wanted to avoid an uncomfortable and undignified death but ironically the best legal care available denied her that.

I really don’t know why we can’t choose for ourselves to hasten our death a bit if we get that opportunity.

In the whole scheme of things being allowed to die relatively comfortably a few days or a few weeks earlier than modern medical care enables means nothing – except to the person who is dying.

I think it should be their choice, and I can’t think why that should be legally denied them.

Why shouldn’t Lecretia Seales choose when and how she dies?