Guilty of importing drugs, not guilty of assisting suicide

In a topical trial in Wellington Susan Austen  has been found not guilty of assisting suicide, but guilty of illegally importing drugs that can be used for suicide – but can also be used for alleviating suffering.

ODT (NZH): Euthanasia campaigner acquitted of aiding suicide

Wellington woman Susan Austen has been found not guilty of assisting suicide.

A jury delivered the verdict at the High Court in Wellington on Friday afternoon where she had been standing trial over the past two weeks.

The 67-year-old has also been found not guilty on a representative charge of importing the Class C drug pentobarbitone. However, she has been found guilty on two other charges of importing the drug.

Austen, a Lower Hutt teacher, was accused of assisting Annemarie Treadwell to take her own life in 2016, along with two other counts of importing Class C controlled drug pentobarbital, on two occasions between 2012 and 2016.

Police launched an investigation into the case after Treadwell (77) was found dead in her bedroom at a retirement village in Kilbirnie in June 2016.

The euthanasia advocate died from an overdose of pentobarbitone.

Susan Austen’s lawyer Dr Donald Stevens, QC, argued during the trial that Austen did not intend that Treadwell should commit suicide, but assisted her to obtain the pentobarbital.

“She intended that Mrs Treadwell should have control over her end of life issue – having that [drug] could have had a profound palliative effect to reduce suffering.”

Clinical psychologist Professor Glynn Owens said merely possessing “end of life” drugs, such as pentobarbital, could actually ease suffering.

“Just having the drugs reduced anxiety and can focus someone on quality of life,” the court heard.

This case highlights issues around euthanasia as David Seymour’s ‘End of Life Choice Bill’ progresses through Parliament – it passed it’s First Reading on 13 December 2017 and is now at the public consultation select Committee stage.

Euthanasia – links and news

YourNZ

Euthanasia’s number 1 question – can we do better?

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

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

Personal end of life experience
It has been suggested in the recent public debate in Dunedin that all that needs to happen is for more widespread top palliative care to be available to anyone that wants it.

Euthanasia interest and support growing
It seems that the euthanasia debate (and support) is building up steam.

Choices about euthanasia
I had a close encounter with the pros and cons of euthanasia recently as I watched my mother die. She had expert care and assistance in her home and at the hospice. The hospice uses care plans that emphasise comfort for the patient within current laws.

In the news

Time to talk about dying

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

Legal euthanasia kills justice for all

John Kleinsman Stuff OPINION: As the spokesperson of a Catholic bioethics centre, there are some who discount my message because of my religious affiliation, rather than on the basis of its merits. It’s a classic case of “playing the man instead of the ball”. As two commentators noted in response to comments I recently made about the dangers of legalising euthanasia: “I am sick of the religious trying to force their narrow views on society.

While I think Christians have as much right to express their views as any other New Zealander, I am, in all honesty, not interested in imposing my religious views on anyone. Actually, with respect to euthanasia, my own personal view is irrelevant.

This is not free choice – but a lack of choice. Legalising euthanasia will end up being an illusory choice for far greater numbers of persons than the few who will ever choose to exercise a legal right to be killed.

It is the role of the law in a democratic society to ensure the interests of the majority are not prejudiced by choices granted to a few.

Man admits assisting wife in suicide

An Auckland man has admitted assisting the suicide of his wife, who suffered from multiple sclerosis.

Rosemary Mott died at her home in Paritai Dr, Orakei, on December 28 last year. Her husband was accused of aiding and abetting her suicide by allegedly helping her to research euthanasia and acquiring equipment and material for her.

Sunday Star Times: Strong public support for euthanasia
The Sunday Star-Times reader poll of more than 1000 people also found almost three-quarters of people would help a terminally-ill loved one commit suicide.

Euthanasia, assisted suicide or assisted death is being discussed a lot. Maryan Street is going to put a End of Life Choice Bill into the Members Bill ballot to try and get another vote on it. This is a collection of relevant links and information.

Discussions

Kiwiblog: The euthanasia debate

If the debate is about how do we make euthanasia safe, rather than does a person have a right to end their own life, then that is a step forward. We should firstly recognise that we already have unregulated passive euthanasia in New Zealand, where people are allowed to die, even though they could be kept alive. I think there is far greater risk in the status quo, than in legislating the circumstances under which someone’s wishes to die can be implemented with assistance.

The Standard: Euthanasia Bill
Maryan Street’s “End of Life Choice Bill” has triggered another round of debate. A recent poll shows public support for legalising voluntary euthanasia at an all time high. It’s a question of “when” not “if”.

Kiwiblog: Support for Euthanasia?
I think the current law is quite cruel when people like Sean Davison are made into criminals for doing what his mother begged him to do.”

Links