Louisa Wall’s speech at Pride Parade hui ‘circus’

Labour MP Louisa Wall was recorded speaking at a recent Pride Parade hui that has further highlighted the fraught factional gender debate surrounding this year’s parade, and also on “the whole gender identity issue”.

Wall “To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us”.

Wall made some controversial comments, in particular:

“So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade”. But Wall also provides context around the current debate. The whole context of her speech is important.

The organisation of the Pride Parade this year has highlighted growing problems in the LGBTQ+ community, with division and exclusion – the opposite of what the Pride Parade was supposed to be about – festering and sometimes blowing out into the open.

There have been claims that the organising committee has been hijacked by radical activists – and if People Against Prisons Aotearoa (they want to shut all prisons and disband the police force) have taken some degree of control then others should be concerned.

Media were excluded from the hui, but Stuff reported: Auckland Pride Parade’s hui over police uniform ban turns into ‘a circus’

A physical scuffle broke out at a meeting of the Auckland rainbow community to discuss the ban on uniformed police marching in the city’s 2019 Pride Parade.

Before the start of the meeting, Tim Foote, an independent facilitator on behalf of the Pride board, also asked media if they had taken any notes and told them to leave the meeting at Grey Lynn Community Centre on Sunday night, which was attended by about 250 people.

The meeting was described as “emotional” and “a circus” by an attendee.

A number of attendees walked out when the scuffle broke out between an older man and a founder People Against Prisons Aotearoa. Its “No Pride In Prisons” group has been advocating for police to be excluded from the parade.

Another attendee, who requested not to be named in fear of the repercussions, told Stuff the meeting was a farce from start to finish.

Tracy Phillips, co-ordinator of the New Zealand Police’s diversity liaison officer (DLO) service, responded by saying: “We’re certainly not going to force our way in, and we’ve taken that message as we are not welcome.”

In a Facebook post made while the meeting was still underway, Rainbow Tick chief executive  Michael Stevens said organisers had underestimated the number of people wanting to attend, and the meeting had been “a shambles”.

Stevens said the Pride Board had “totally underestimated the depth of division they’d created with their decision. If that’s how they’re running the Pride Parade then God help them”.

A source told Stuff it was “the ugliest meeting I have been to in a long time”.

Louisa Wall, Labour’s MP for Manurewa, said she had gone to the meeting as a member of the community, because she had “wanted to understand how we got to this place”.

A recording of Louisa Wall addressing the hui has emerged via Speak Up for Women:

Stop Hate Speech

Here’s the full recording of MP Louisa Wall’s hate speech targeting women during the Pride Hui earlier this week.

The recording was made in secret by a hui attendee who will not speak publicly for fear of the attacks and threats they have already been subjected to. We demand that our MPs promote respectful dialogue on women’s legitimate concerns with proposed changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Act.

Some of what Wall said:

I want to actually commend you on your consultation, I think it’s really important. As you began the journey you actually listened to the community.

And the other bottom line for us all, I mean the whole gender identity issue and trans exclusion is huge. Right? It’s a global issue at the moment, and I think none of us want to see the exclusion of our trans sisters.

Up until this stage the speech was interspersed with clapping.

To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us.

No clapping after this line, but some inaudible comments could be heard, after which Wall continued uninterrupted.

Part of the issue is we have had a decision made based on as Sissy has articulated, a series of consultations. but what is really difficult for the community is actually since 2013, and we need to look at the context, the police were initially asked not to march in uniform.

Ok, so in 2013, when the Pride parade started, the police participated not in uniform, but since 2014 the police have been able to participate and march in uniform.

Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with the police. Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with Corrections.

So these issues are not discrete.

But I think what’s happened is the board has made it’s decision based on listening to the community, and we are all now here together because the decision they made was actually to listen to our community. So we have to thank them, which is why i have started by thanking Sissy and her team for what they have undertaken. Now…

Clapping and ‘hear hear’.

And as we move forward, and herein lies a bit of a, it’s an ironic, h, part of the police’s history, ’cause I do want to acknowledge you Tracy, and I also want to acknowledge our brothers and sisters, LGBCQ, whanau and the police.

I’m actually here representing my friend Whiti Timutimu, who is the Maori Responsiveness Adviser for the New Zealand Police…she’s the first Maori woman serving in the Police having a moku. She couldn’t be here, she’s based in Gisborne.

But the Police are doing an amazing job at diversifying…The Police are exemplifying at the moment diversity and inclusion, and that’s the irony of this decision…

And having a meeting, and possibly rolling the Board, we all need to just take a big deep breath, and actually focus on what Pride is all about.

Everybody who’s here has been motivated to get here tonight because we are proud to be members of the LGBT community…all of us want the same thing,

But, what we also have acknowledge is for our trans community, I believe they are still the most marginalised, excluded group in our LGBT community, and I stand here as takaatapui Lesbian woman, who feels fucking grateful that my identity means I get access to services that I need.

And our trans whanau do not experience life like we do. We have to fight and support their rights and their ability to speak up, and I do also want to acknowledge what you said Bobby, ’cause it’s true when we look at the Police Complaints Authority, the Human Rights Authority (I’m there tomorrow), and our trans whanau too, if you are feeling victimised and abused and not listened to, and your complaints are not getting through to institutions which again highlight the fact that if there are some discrimination and issues in our community, then we’ve got a problem.

But the people we need to be working with are those diversity liaison officers, and ourselves with our community. We’ve got the capacity, we’re bloody strong, and when we speak in a unified voice, we can get change.

So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade.

Much cheering and clapping.

Speak up for Women define terf: The word ‘terf’ is hate speech used to belittle and threaten anyone who rejects the premises or conclusions of transgender ideology.  It is used to dehumanise and incite violence.

Sorry about swearing everybody

So that’s why I’m sorry I took a bit more time, but can we just show some compassion, some aroha, some love, some support for one another. And that’s my korero for tonight.

So spoke a bit more after that and then closed her speech.

Small parts of that speech have led to a reaction, including frowns over a ‘secret’ recording, but I think that if small parts are going to be quoted then wider context is important.

 

O’Sullivan v Marvelly: “Media fought for the decriminalisation of homosexuality”

More to ‘Mainstream press’ warned off hijacking discussion around Pride Parade – NZ Herald journalist Fran O’Sullivan took exception to Lizzie Marvelly’s tweet, giving it a sharp response that led to some media involvement in the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

More:

@LizzieMarvelly: Excuse me? Sexual outcasting and a perverse reversal? What on Earth are you talking about?

@FranOSullivan: Go read a history book.

@LizzieMarvelly: Oh yes, that’s a great way to engage in discussion… condescension goes so far 🙄
I understand the terms, I just don’t get what you’re banging on about because you’ve phrased it poorly. But I’d humbly suggest showing people with skin in the game with a little more respect.

Ironic on several counts. A number of people (including myself) have been critical of Marvelly’s ‘poor phrasing’. And one of the main criticisms has been the lack of respect Marvelly showed ‘mainstream media’. Without it her audience would be far smaller.

@DannyNocturn65: The world you are trying to build is a horrible one – you don’t need to be the subject of a societal issue in order to comment on it. this competition where whoever can prove to be the smallest minority gets a monopoly over discussion is the death of productive conversation.

LizzieMarvelly: That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m arguing against the sensationalisation of an issue by people who are, in my opinion, ignorant of the nuances that are essential to this discussion.

That’s nothing like how she put it.  She said ” It’s NOT one to be hijacked by the mainstream press, dissected by straight, cis media personalities and turned into a circus.” She suggested that presumably most media keep out of the discussion on the Pride Parade. (Another irony is the reference to a circus – that’s something like how the extravagant displays of Pride Parades have looked to many).

@DannyNocturn65: “this discussion around the Pride Parade is one for the LGBTQ+ community to work through” your words

And for the police who have been banned, and the public who fund it, and anyone who has aan interest in the discussion in an open and free society.

Another thread in the discussion:

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: Firstly I agree with one comment. This stay in your lane crap is another american phrase usurped by someone wanting attention.

And Fran, I WAS born before law reform and the press helped and wrote articles but were not the ones marching in the streets or getting bashed and abused, there is a distinct separation on “how” the media “fought”.

There usually is, that’;s how the media operates. It gives a much wider voice to protesters that is often essential in getting momentum and in changing public opinion on issues like the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

@FranOSullivan: And that is what media do – write articles that fight for change.

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: I agree. media fights in its own way, and usually honestly and accurately but when people have bled, been admitted to hospital and arrested for a cause you should choose your words more carefully.

@FranOSullivan: Do you seriously believe the journalists who took up their cudgels on this issue did not have to overcome hostility.

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: Absolutely not. However, at that time media were seen as people reporting the news and not fighting for our cause…

@FranOSullivan: So now you think it is OKAY to define other people via an alphabet soup approach to humanity?

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: a) I don’t usually get into heady discussions on twitter. I tend to avoid them.
b) Throwing spurious comments about something that I was involved in makes my blood boil.
c) I didn’t make the world I only try to live in it.
d)NO, I don’t. You play games with my comments.

Someone throwing spurious comments about something she may have been involved as a reporter seems to have made Fran’s blood boil.

@FranOSullivan: You deny people their humanity by alphabeticising them and you deny journalism its courage.

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: No. You are putting words into my mouth. I certainly now regret commenting on something so stupidly written. Good day “madam”.

So he closed the discussion with a condescending swipe. It isn’t clear which “something so stupidly written” he is referring to, Marvelly’s original tweet or O’Sullivan’s.

Another thread:

Shane te Pou @PouTepou: If I think something is wrong I will say so I don’t have a lane… Thoughts and opinions can not be contained and nor should they.

LizzieMarvelly: Wasn’t saying you need to, I was suggesting it would be good if Hosking and Garner did, given the ignorance I believe they displayed on this issue.

If that’s what she meant she phrased poorly – in fact that is not what her first tweet conveyed. She said ” It’s NOT one to be hijacked by the mainstream press, dissected by straight, cis media personalities and turned into a circus. Hosking, Garner et al., stay in your lane.”

She referred to “the mainstream press”, to “straight, cis media personalities” and to “Hosking, Garner et al”.

Et al (an abbreviation of et alia) refers to ‘and others – Cambridge Dictionary: “It is used in formal writing to avoid a long list of names of people who have written something together”.

Another thread, replying to O’Sullivan:

@TraceyMacleod: If you were fighting for that Fran you would have seen the behaviour of many of our police. The scars run deep & it is not long ago lgbt officers were bullied out or shrunk into a closest.

George Henderson @puddleg: But not today – today they are encouraged to march in the Pride parade. Until a group of law-and-order activists manoeuvre themselves in charge, and bully out the lgbt officers for reasons that have nothing to do with their sexuality or gender, and that don’t make much sense.

@TraceyMacleod: Why dont they just wear the tshirts. Are you a lgbt person? Cos the scars of police behaviour run deep. If you think all police are okee dokee with gay colleagues and gay folk in society. I have a nice bridge you might be interested in buying.

I’m sure not all police are “okee dokee with gay colleagues and gay folk in society”, and many others in society haven’t accepted our evolution to a more tolerant, accepting and inclusive society. But should all police who want to wear their uniforms to demonstrate a significant degree of normalisation in the police force be excluded from Pride Parade, because some of their colleagues have different opinions and feelings about homosexuality?

Another thread:

@adamsmith1922: Marvelly demonstrates just how divorced from reality some of these people are. Her intolerance of others views and demonisation of other commentators shows that.

@FranOSullivan:@LizzieMarvelly is perfectly entitled to her views. But this argument those occupying her “lane/s” should be the only ones to weigh in on the decision to ban police from “proudly wearing their uniforms” as they take part in the Pride Parade is not only ridiculous but dangerous.

@adamsmith1922:To clarify, she can say what she likes. I have no problem with that. However,she has no rights to seek others from exercising their own rights in this regard. Furthermore, to demonise other commentators because they are ‘cis’ and thus by inference somehow ineligible to express an opinion renders her as prejudiced as any homophobe. We still live in a free society where differing opinions should be respected, not mocked.

Some else enters the thread, switching from a ‘cis’ diss to a ‘mansplaining’ diss.

ben parsons @peaceprone: But if you come mansplaining out of context without acknowledging the premise then you may just be in the wrong lane, shouting into the vacuum of history.

@mrsrosieb: So you’re agreeing with Lizzie’s stupid comment.

ben parsons @peaceprone: i kind of agree bc if you argue from a point of indolence, you tend to miss the point. Hosts should never assume to be experts, even if they are.

I presume that refers to Garner and Hosking as hosts. I don’t think they assume to be experts on topics they talk about. Their jobs are to raise attention and generate discussion something Marvelly et al seem to want confined to initial defined lanes.

Ireland abortion vote puts New Zealand law to shame

Ireland has just resoundingly voted to modernise their abortion law, giving women the choice the should have.

This highlights New Zealand’s shameful persistence with law that is not fit for purpose to the extent that it is virtually ignored in practice, although it forces women into a demeaning process.

We should add abortion to the referendum list for next year, along with personal use of cannabis and euthanasia.

The last Government was not interested in addressing the abortion anomaly.

Abortion was not addressed in either the Labour-NZ First or Labour-Green governing agreements.

However Jacinda Ardern campaigned against the current law – Abortion ‘shouldn’t be a crime’ (September 2017):

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says abortion should not be in the Crimes Act and she would change the law.

Access to abortion is governed by the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977.

“It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act. People need to be able to make their own decision. People need to be able to make their own decisions. I want women who want access to be able to have it as a right.”

At the same time Bill English supported the law as it is but also supported a conscience vote:

Prime Minster Bill English, a conservative Catholic, said he supported the law as it was and he would be opposed to liberalisation. He described the current set-up, where a woman has to get a certificate from two separate medical professionals saying she needed an abortion, was “broadly acceptable” and was working.

However, English said it would be a “conscience decision”, so his MP could vote freely on it.

Why not let the people vote on it?

February 2018: Labour moves to legalise abortion

Andrew Little surprised observers today when he revealed that a draft referral on reforming New Zealand’s abortion law had been circulated to New Zealand First and the Greens. Little said today that he received a letter from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the coalition was formed directing him to begin the process of reforming the law.

Once the two parties give feedback, the referral will be sent to the Law Commission to make a recommendation.

New Zealand is not just out of step with modern law, it is also out of step with modern practices.

New Zealand is an outlier among OECD countries for the time it takes to get an abortion and the way abortions are provided to patients.

In New Zealand, a patient must be referred to two specialists to sign-off on the abortion. If one refuses, the woman may need to find a third specialist. The average time from referral to procedure is 25 days.

In other countries the it can take just a week from referral to procedure. This makes it more likely for New Zealand patients to require a surgical, rather than a medical abortion, as they have passed the nine week mark.

In New Zealand, only 15 percent of abortions are medical abortions. By contrast, 62 percent of abortions in the UK are medical abortions and 45 percent of abortions performed before nine weeks (two-thirds of the total number) in the United States are medical abortions.

Terry Bellamak, President of the Abortion Law Reform Association…

…said that she would like to see abortion wiped from the Crimes Act and the restrictive grounds for abortion abolished.

Currently, abortion can be granted on the grounds that the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother; that there is a substantial risk the child will be seriously handicapped; that the pregnancy is a result of incest; or that the woman is deemed to be “severely subnormal”.

Bellamak said she would like New Zealand’s law to be reformed along the lines of Canada.

“Canada has absolutely no abortion laws and no regulations around abortion. They simply trust women,” she said.

Andrew Little refused to give much detail on what reform might look like…

…but suggested it might be broader than taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

“There are more issues than just what’s in the Crimes Act … it’s also the hurdles that have been put in the way of women who are faced with making that decision”.

The vote would be a conscience vote, meaning MPs would be given the ability to vote freely without following a party line.

Why not a people vote, in a referendum along with cannabis and euthanasia?

Ardern and Little support reform.

Greens have actively campaigned on reform: Abortion – it’s time to decriminalise

The Green Party supports the decriminalisation of abortion because we trust women to make decisions that are best for them and their whānau/family. We want to ensure equal access to all potential options are available to pregnant women.

We want to change the abortion laws because:

  • The fact that 99% of abortions are approved on ‘mental health’ grounds reveals the dishonesty of the current legal situation.
  • The time taken to see two consultants means abortions happen later in the pregnancy. This is more dangerous for the woman, and it makes it difficult to access medical abortions (those which are conducted using medicine rather than surgery), which can only be performed at under 9 weeks’ gestation.
  • Rape (sexual violation) is not grounds for abortion under NZ law.
  • To reduce the stigma and judgement that happens over the reasons a woman chooses to have an abortion (e.g. rape being seen as more justified grounds for abortion than poverty).
  • Abortion’s continuing criminal status helps reinforce geographical variations in access to abortion services.
  • The current laws are discriminatory towards people with disabilities.

We also want to change the presumption that currently exists within medical culture and wider society, encouraged by the wording in the legislation, that if there is a significant disability diagnosis then an abortion is assumed to be desirable.

While English supported an MP conscience vote on abortion Simon Bridges could be different. In February when he became National leader:

Bridges told Mediaworks abortion should be “rare, safe and legal and I think the emphasis there is on rare. I think that’s where the vast majority of New Zealanders are”.

If that’s his view I think Bridges is out of touch with new Zealand.

Vice have noted he: “Voted to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.”

In principle NZ First supports people deciding things by referendum. In March last year Tracey Martin pointed this out in Politically, Abortion change rests with NZ First so what does that look like?

What’s our view on abortion legislation?

Abortions should be safe, legal and rare.

We have a policy of citizen-initiated binding referendum, held at the same time as a general election – a policy we have had for 23 years – this is one of those issues for such a referendum. It should not be decided by temporarily empowered politicians but by the public.

We need a 12 to 18 month conversation around this issue and then let the people have their say.

Topics that we would be suggest be associated with this discussion would include: Moving the issue from the Criminal Act to the Health Act, ensuring women get the best possible advice, getting more research into “why” women find themselves needing to seek this service and how can we assist them to avoid having to seek this service.

It makes more sense to me to have a referendum a year before the election. It separates issues decided from the politics of general elections, and is a very good way of engaging the public in democracy.

 

Input wanted on Abortion Law Reform

The Law Commission has an Abortion Law Reform website and are asking for input into a review of the current laws covering abortions which are not fit for purpose and are overdue for a decent tidy up).


Law Commission – Abortion Law reform

We are advising the Government on how the law could treat abortion as a health issue

The Government is considering how best to ensure New Zealand’s abortion laws are consistent with treating abortion as a health issue.

To do that, it has asked the Law Commission for advice on what alternative approaches could be taken in the law to align with a health approach.

Specifically, the Government has asked us to review the criminal aspects of abortion law, the grounds for abortion and the process for receiving abortion services.

This website explains the current law and the process for receiving abortion services.

We want to hear your views as we develop our advice to the Government. You can provide input until 5pm on 18 May 2018.

We will provide our advice to the Government in October 2018.

Tell us your views

You can provide input until 5pm on 18 May 2018.

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.