Legal orture? The moral debate over whether Euthanasia should be leagalised in New Zealand is a controversial topic which divids the nation, what side are you taking?
‘Should people be forced to stay alive or do we deserve the right to make our own choice?’
WHAT IS EUTHANASIA? EUTHANASIA DEFINITION In the strict sense Euthanasia involves actively causing death. Euthanasia is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘gentle and easy death; bringing about of this, especially in case of incurable and painful disease’ When the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary this is called involuntary euthanasia or if the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent this is non-voluntary euthanasia or in other words murder. CLASSIFICATION OF EUTHANASIA Allowing death — for example by not providing life support or vital medication — is not considered euthanasia if it is the patient’s wish. It is sometimes called passive
euthanasia in cases where the patient is unable to make decisions about treatment. Living wills and Do Not Resuscitate orders are legal instruments that make a patient’s treatment decisions known ahead of time; allowing a patient to die based on such decisions is not considered to be euthanasia. Double effect is a term used when treatment given to relieve pain or other symptoms has the secondary effect of hastening or causing death. Doctors acting with compassion may prescribe higher than required doses of morphine to relieve pain, knowing that death may be hastened. Terminal sedation is a combination of medically inducing a deep sleep and stopping other treatment, with the exception of medication for symptom control. It is considered to
be euthanasia by some, but under current law and medical practice it is considered a form of palliative care. Advocates of euthanasia generally insist that euthanasia should be voluntary, requiring informed consent, and that it should only be used in cases of terminal illness that cause unbearable suffering, or an eventual, complete loss of awareness. Its opponents challenge it on several ethical grounds, including a slippery slope argument that it is the first step towards compulsory euthanasia. FORMS OF EUTHANASIA There are many different ways of initiating euthanasia which fall into two categories, euthanasia by action or omission. Drugs, injections, carbon dioxide, helium, plastic bags or Nitschke’s Peaceful Suicide Pill are
all considered to be forms of active euthanasia. Euthanasia by omission involves intentionally causing death by not providing necessary care by withdrawn or withheld treatment, otherwise by not having the basic necessities for life; food and water. LAWS AND EUTHANASIA This is in some cases legal in the Netherlands and Belgium, but in no other countries (as of 2005). Euthanasia in a wider sense includes assisting sufferers to commit suicide, in particular physician-assisted suicide; this is legal in a small number of jurisdictions.
Argument For Euthanasia Euthanasia is necessary for the following reasons; are as follows; Its a matter of human rights, mercy, the liberation argument, conserving resources, inevitability, death is not always bad. EXCRUCIATING PAIN AND AN UNDIGNIFIED DEATH It is a national and international scandal that so many people do not get adequate pain control. Everyone - whether it be a person with a lifethreatening illness or a chronic condition - has the right to pain relief. With modern advances in pain control, no patient should ever be in excruciating pain, however this is not always the
ARGUMENT AGAINST EUTHANASIA Euthanasia is morally wrong, it devalues human life, no one has the right to play God, the ‘slippery slope’ effect which leads to involuntary euthanasia, it promotes an unethical way to cut health care cost and control the population. DEFINING TERMINALLY ILL Euthanasia would not only be for people who are ‘terminally ill.’ There are two problems here – the definition of ‘terminal’ and the changes that have already taken place to extend euthanasia to those who aren’t ‘terminally ill.’ There are many definitions for the word ‘terminal.’ For example, when he spoke to the National Press Club in 1992, Jack Kevorkian said that a terminal illness was ‘any disease that curtails life even for a day.’ The co-founder of
the Hemlock Society often refers to ‘terminal old age.’ Some laws define ‘terminal’ condition as one from which death will occur in a ‘relatively short time.’ Others state that ‘terminal’ means that death is expected within six months or less. Even where a specific life expectancy (like six months) is referred to, medical experts acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to predict the life expectancy of a particular patient. Some people diagnosed as terminally ill don’t die for years, if at all, from the diagnosed condition. Increasingly, however, euthanasia activists have dropped references to terminal illness, replacing them with such phrases as ‘hopelessly ill,’ ‘desperately ill,’ ‘incurably ill,’ ‘hopeless condition,’ and ‘meaningless life.’ An article in the journal, Suicide and
Life-Threatening Behaviour, described assisted suicide guidelines for those with a hopeless condition. ‘Hopeless condition’ was defined to include terminal illness, severe physical or psychological pain, physical or mental debilitation or deterioration, or a quality of life that is no longer acceptable to the individual. That means just about anybody who has a suicidal impulse. CUTTING COSTS Perhaps one of the most important developments in recent years is the increasing emphasis placed on health care providers to contain costs. In such a climate, euthanasia certainly could become a means of cost containment. In the United States, thousands of people have no medical insurance;
case. Most doctors have never had a course in pain management so they’re unaware of what to do. If a patient who is under a doctor’s care is in excruciating pain, there’s definitely a need to find a different doctor. In certain medical cases, like motor neurons disease there is little that doctors can do to relieve the excruciating pain of the patient. Prolonged periods of pain are not the only distress some people have to suffer: feelings of suffocation, of nausea, of misery or of being desperately ill cannot always be relieved by pain killers or sedatives. Victims of cancer often have to suffer severe and continuous distress. Pain can be reduced by the repeated use of narcotics and sedative drugs, but often at the cost of constipation, nausea, deterioration of the personality and other distressing side-effects. In addition to pain, cancer patients may have to suffer the mental misery associated with the presence of a growth, the physical obstruction of the bowels or incontinence and the utter frustration that makes each long day and night a death in life. Diseases of the nervous system often lead to crippling paralysis or inability to walk, to severe headaches, to blindness and to the misery of
studies have shown that the poor and minorities generally are not given access to available pain control, and managed-care facilities are offering physicians cash bonuses if they don’t provide care for patients. With greater and greater emphasis being placed on managed care, many doctors are at financial risk when they provide treatment for their patients. Legalized euthanasia raises the potential for a profoundly dangerous situation in which doctors could find themselves far better off financially if a seriously ill or disabled person ‘chooses’ to die rather than receive long-term care. Savings to the government may also become a consideration. This could take place if governments cut back on paying for treatment and care and replace them with the ‘treatment’ of death. For example, immediately after
‘EUTHANASIA CAN BECOME A MEANS OF HEALTH CARE COST CONTAINMENT FOR THE WRONG REASONS.’
‘Do to others as you would have them do to you. How would you want to be treated?’
bed sores. A stroke patient may be conscious but helpless and in pain. There is a strong case, based on common-sense and compassion, for granting the wish of terminal patients for a merciful release from prolonged and useless suffering. For insistence, against the patient’s wishes, that death be postponed by every means available is contrary to law and practice. It would also be cruel and inhumane. There comes a time when continued attempts to cure are not compassionate, wise, or medically sound. Having the right to die is another case of freedom of choice.
the passage of Measure 16, Oregon’s law permitting assisted suicide, Jean Thorne, the state’s Medicaid Director, announced that physician-assisted suicide would be paid for as ‘comfort care’ under the Oregon Health Plan which provides medical coverage for about 345,000 poor Oregonians. Within eighteen months of Measure 16’s passage, the State of Oregon announced plans to cut back on health care coverage for poor state residents. In Canada, hospital stays are being shortened while, at the same time, funds have not been made available for home care for the sick and elderly. Registered nurses are being replaced with less expensive practical nurses. Patients are forced to endure long waits for many types of needed surgery. INVOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA Euthanasia will only be voluntary, they say Emotional and psychological pressures could become overpowering for depressed or dependent people. If the choice of euthanasia is considered
EASING THE BURDEN AND TRAUMA Providing a quick ending to a persons prolonged suffering not only eases the pain of the patient but it also helps to alleviate the grief and suffering of the patients loved ones. Families and friends also experience great trauma during the patients period of suffering which often continues after their loved one has passed away. Frustration that they didn’t do something more to ease the suffering, along with anger at themselves and the medical staff surrounding the patient, can make it extremely painful for all involved - this is unlikely the legacy the deceased wanted to leave in their wake! Most people want others to remember them fondly, not with memories steeped in grief. Ending a persons suffering with euthanasia obviously means that medical supplies and funds will be reduced easing the financial burden on their family and also allowing the resources can be utilised by other patients.
as good as a decision to receive care, many people will feel guilty for not choosing death. Financial considerations, added to the concern about ‘being a burden,’ could serve as powerful forces that would lead a person to ‘choose’ euthanasia or assisted suicide. People for euthanasia say that voluntary euthanasia will not lead to involuntary euthanasia. They look at things as simply black and white. In real life there would be millions of situations each year where cases would not fall clearly into either category. Here are two: Example 1: an elderly person in a nursing home, who can barely understand a breakfast menu, is asked to sign a form consenting to be killed. Is this voluntary or involuntary? Will they be protected by the law? How? Right now the overall prohibition on killing stands in the way. Once one signature can sign away a person’s life, what can be as strong a protection as the current absolute prohibition on direct killing? Answer: nothing.
Example 2: a woman is suffering from depression and asks to be helped to commit suicide. One doctor sets up a practice to ‘help’ such people. She and anyone who wants to die knows he will approve any such request. He does thousands a year for $200 each. How does the law protect people from him? Does it specify that a doctor can only approve 50 requests a year? 100? 150? If you don’t think there are such doctors, just look at recent stories of doctors and nurses who are charged with murder for killing dozens or hundreds of patients. Legalized euthanasia would most likely progress to the stage where people, at a certain point, would be expected to volunteer to be killed. Think about this: What if your veterinarian said that your ill dog would be better of ‘put out of her misery’ by being ‘put to sleep’ and you refused to consent. What would the vet and his assistants think? What would your friends think? Ten years from now, if a doctor told you your mother’s ‘quality of life’ was not
‘I sincerely believe that those that come after us will wonder why on earth we kept a human being against his own will, when all the dignity, beauty and meaning of life have vanished.’
worth living for and asked you, as the closest family member, to approve a ‘quick, painless ending of her life’ and you refused how would doctors, nurses and others, conditioned to accept euthanasia as normal and right, treat you and your mother. Or, what if the approval was sought from your mother, who was depressed by her illness? Would she have the strength to refuse what everyone in the nursing home ‘expected’ from seriously ill elderly people? The movement from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia would be like the movement of abortion from ‘only for the life or health of the mother’ as was proclaimed by advocates 30 years ago to today’s ‘abortion on demand even if the baby is half born.’ Euthanasia people state that abortion is something people choose - it is not forced on them and that voluntary euthanasia will not be forced on them either. They are missing the main point - it is not an issue of force - it is an issue of the way laws against
+ COMPASSION AND MERCY Most people would have their pets put down if they were suffering, which would be regarded as an act of kindness, however there is a different standard for humans. Also in New Zealand if an animal has a low quality of life and is clearly suffering from excruciating pain the owner of the animal can be charged for their cruelty to the animal, yet again their is a double standard with the current laws towards people. Concern about the actual process of dying, not the fact of dying, worries people. It is the fear of being kept alive in a pitiful condition, which leads people to the conclusion that death would be preferable.
an action can be broadened and expanded once something is declared legal. You don’t need to be against abortion to appreciate the way the laws on abortion have changed and to see how it could well happen the same way with euthanasia/assisted suicide as soon as the door is opened to make it legal. DEVALUING HUMAN LIFE Euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life. People who support euthanasia often say that it is already considered permissible to take human life under some circumstances such as self defence – but they miss the point that when one kills for self defence they are saving innocent life - either their own or someone else’s. With euthanasia no one’s life is being saved – life is only taken. History has taught us the dangers of euthanasia and that is why there are only two countries in the world today where it is legal. That is why almost
The late Reverend Leslie Weatherhead, the prominent Methodist, profoundly stated: ‘I sincerely believe that those that come after us will wonder why on earth we kept a human being against his own will, when all the dignity, beauty and meaning of life have vanished: when any gain to anyone was clearly impossible, and when we should have been punished by the state if we had kept an animal alive in similar physical conditions.’ Some Christians support euthanasia. They might argue the points: God is love. Christianity is love and compassion. Keeping someone in pain and suffering is not loving, it is evil. Euthanasia can be the most loving action, and the best way of putting love into practice. Humans were given dominion over all living things by God (Genesis 1:28), i.e. we can choose for ourselves. Jesus came so that people could have life ‘in all its fullness’ John 10:10: this means quality of life. If someone has no quality of life, then euthanasia could be good. God gave humans free will. We should be allowed to use free will to decide when our lives end. ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ How would you want to be treated?
all societies - even non-religious ones - for thousands of years have made euthanasia a crime. It is remarkable that euthanasia advocates today think they know better than the billions of people throughout history who have outlawed euthanasia - what makes the 50 year old euthanasia supporters in 2005 so wise that they think they can discard the accumulated wisdom of almost all societies of all time and open the door to the killing of innocent people? Have things changed? If they have, they are changes that should logically reduce the call for euthanasia - pain control medicines and procedure are far better than they have ever been any time in history.
+Public Opinion A current poll on www.stuff.co.nz posed the question ‘Should euthanasia be legalised in New Zealand?’, of a total of 7568 votes the majority (eighty two percent) agreed that euthanasia should be legalised in New Zealand with only 1364 opposing votes.
YES 82%, 6204 Votes
SHOULD EUTHANASIA BE LEGALISED IN NEW ZEALAND?
NO 18%, 1364 Votes
NEW ZEALAND LAW & EUTHANASIA Euthanasia is illegal in New Zealand. The Crimes Act 1961 stipulates that 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. Every one who has charge of any other person unable, by reason of detention, age, sickness, insanity, or any other cause, to withdraw himself from such charge, and unable to provide himself with the necessaries of life, is (whether such charge is undertaken by him under any contract or is imposed upon him by law or by reason of his unlawful act or otherwise howsoever) under a legal
duty to supply that person with the necessaries of life, and is criminally responsible for omitting without lawful excuse to perform such duty if the death of that person is caused, or if his life is endangered or his health permanently injured, by such omission. Under the Bill of Rights Act 1990 ‘No one shall be deprived of life except on such grounds as are established by law and are consistent with the principles of fundamental justice.’ In June 2003 Attorney-General Margaret Wilson stated that the Death with Dignity Bill (March 2003) appeared to be ‘inconsistent with the right not to be deprived of life’ as affirmed by the Bill of Rights. Although the Death with Dignity Bill
contained comprehensive safeguards in the case of patients seeking assistance to end their lives, there was not the same degree of protection in the case of people making advance directives, and the Attorney- General said it could be argued that the right not to be deprived of life was a discretionary right. However, this was disputed by some. The Sentencing Act 2002 allows non-custodial and reduced sentences for murder, and judges may impose lesser sentences where life imprisonment would be inappropriate. The Act stipulates that in sentencing or otherwise dealing with an offender the court: Must take into account any particular circumstances of the offender that mean that a sentence or other means
of dealing with the offender that would otherwise be appropriate would, in the particular instance, be disproportionately severe. According to Waikato University lecturer Brenda Midson the Sentencing Act offers judges the discretion in murder cases which was previously limited to manslaughter cases. The President of the Criminal Bar Association, Geoff Wells, argues the Act gives judges greater sentencing flexibility – ‘The Act has now given the court power to give leniency where it is warranted. That never existed for murder before; everybody just got the same life sentence.’ For instance, on 6 March 2002 Rex Law killed his sick wife and then attempted to commit suicide. Law said he and his wife had agreed to ‘do
each other in’ if either suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. 11 In August 2002 Law was sentenced to 18 months in prison and given leave to apply for home detention. Previously, Law would have faced a minimum of 10 years in prison.
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand recently conducted a survey in November 2008 to obtain an up-to-date, independent measure of the level of support in New Zealand for the legalization of medically assisted dying. The organisation commissioned one of New Zealandâ€™s most prominent market research companies, Colmar Brunton, to conduct surveys during 2008. The results, based on the opinions of over 2,000 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over, showed that an overwhelming 71% of New Zealanders want the legal right to choose a medically assisted death if they, personally, have an illness or condition from which they have no hope of returning to an acceptable quality of life. In the measures obtained in August and September of 2008, the question asked was: â€˜In some countries, though not all, if you have an illness that results in your being unable to have an acceptable quality of life, you are legally allowed to
BELOW The small blue areas identify the countries which euthanasia is legal in while the red highlights the clear majority of the world where euthanasia is illegal.
get help from a doctor to help you to die. If you had an illness or condition which resulted in your having a quality of life that was totally unacceptable to you, would you like to have the legal right to choose a medically assisted death?â€™ Seventy-one per cent said YES. Area, age and gender were set to ensure a representative spread and data were post-weighted to reflect nationwide population statistics in terms of gender, age and household size. In our pre-election communication with all political parties we were pleased to be able to use this figure as evidence of the strong support of NZ citizens for a change in the law to enable medically assisted dying.
‘EUTHANASIA, THAT IS THE ACT OF DELIBERATELY ENDING THE LIFE OF A PATIENT, EVEN AT THE PATIENT’S REQUEST OR AT THE REQUEST OF CLOSE RELATIVES, IS UNETHICAL.’
‘It is natural to hope that when our time comes, we shall die peacefully with dignity.’
ANTI-EUTHANASIA SUPPORTERS RELIGIOUS VIEWS The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, part of the Anglican Communion and the largest church in New Zealand, believes that euthanasia has a place in society. The Roman Catholic Church in New Zealand, the second largest church in the country, oppose euthanasia and consider that only God can take a human life. The Church also say that it is up to the patient, not the doctor, to withhold any medical treatment that may prolong an individuals life. The Salvation Army opposes euthanasia. They do not see it as ‘death with dignity’ and say that individuals do not have the right to take their own life. Predominantly Roman Catholic
New Zealand anti-abortion organisations like Voice for Life and Right to Life New Zealand are also opposed to discrimination of voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide, although this has usually been subordinate to their opposition to abortion in New Zealand. NEW ZEALAND MEDICAL ASSOCIATION The NZMA is opposed to both the concept and practice of euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide. The NZMA however encourages the concept of death with dignity and comfort, and strongly supports the right of patients to decline treatment, or to request pain relief, and supports the right of access to appropriate palliative care. In supporting patients’ right to
request pain relief, the NZMA accepts that the proper provision of such relief, even when it may hasten the death of the patient, is not unethical. This NZMA position is not dependent on euthanasia and doctorassisted suicide remaining unlawful. Even if they were to become legal, or decriminalised, the NZMA would continue to regard them as unethical.
DIGNITY NEW ZEALAND TRUST Our vision is to offer the best possible environment for end-of-life care in New Zealand by promoting and, in due course, providing palliative care plus an option of legalized assisted dying. It is envisaged that this option will be offered to New Zealanders via Dignity Havens as an alternative to the palliative care only service currently offered by Hospice NZ. In this way, New Zealanders will be able to access clear and real choices in end-of-life care. Dignity HavenS will provide optimum palliative care along with a safe, supported and legal environment in which to consider and if so chosen, receive an assisted death under robust and safe-guarded legislation. Dignity Nz Trust Care will be provided by either in-haven care, in-home care or within the hospital, rest-home according to an individual’s personal circumstances and wishes. This initiative will allow people with a philosophical opposition to Voluntary Euthanasia to continue with existing end-of-life care as provided by Hospice NZ, while offering a valid alternative to those people who support Voluntary Euthanasia.
THE VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA SOCIETY OF NEW ZEALAND The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand has as its object a change to the law to allow terminally ill patients, or those whose quality of life has diminished to an unacceptable extent, the right to a peaceful death with dignity at a time of their own choosing. The Society was formed from a merger in 2004 between the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (Auckland) Inc. and the Wellington Voluntary Euthanasia Society. There are branches in Auckland and Wellington and more branches in other centres are planned. When the alternatives are death with dignity or death accompanied by prolonged pain or distress, common sense as well as compassion support the demand of the Society that the choice should be the legal right of the individual.
‘…INDIVIDUALS DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE THEIR OWN LIFE.’
Advocates of Euthanasia
EUTHANASIA IS ALREADY HAPPENING A doctor who has recently died of cancer himself was advocating for euthanasia saying that many of his colleagues already practice euthanasia and it should be legalised. Auckland GP Dr John Pollock, 61, who had metastatic melanoma, said he personally knows many doctors who have taken steps to hasten a patients death. A 2003 survey of doctors showed a third had taken measures that would lead to a quicker death.
DR JOHN POLLOCK The euthanasia debate was recently reignited in New Zealand by Dr John Pollock who personally suffering from metastatic melanoma for over thirty years. He passed away peacefully at home with his family on 19 September 2010, aged 61.
‘Thou shalt not kill’ must be our guide Garth George writes that a United Kingdom study determined it was impossible to ensure all legalised killings were voluntary. The Oxford Dictionary defines euthanasia as ‘the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma’. Euthanasia is defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary as ‘the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma’. The Oxford defines murder as ‘the unlawful premeditated killing of one person by another.’ So logic and reason dictate that, stripped of all the emotive and emotional claptrap that surrounds the word
euthanasia, it is in fact murder. The Hippocratic Oath, which bound the medical profession for nearly a millennium and a half but is generally no longer observed, states: ‘I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.’ A modern version, written by an American medical academic in 1964 and still sworn in many American medical schools today, states: ‘Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.’
Dignity New Zealand founder Lesley Martin, a former nurse who was jailed for helping her mother die, said most people in the medical industry knew of cases where things ‘quickly happened’. ‘There’s a coded language (doctors speak),’ she said. New Zealand Medical Association chairman Dr Peter Foley said any action to hasten death was unethical though pain medication that had a secondary effect of shortening life was sanctioned. Pollock said he did not want his family’s last memories of him to be of him wasting away. The current situation where palliative care was sometimes used to hasten a death meant doctors could only intervene late in the process. Pain was only one of the problems, he said. ‘From the patient’s point of view of those I’ve seen dying, it’s the nausea, it’s the feeling of helplessness as you lie there, the feeling that you know you’re going to die... often it can go on for weeks or months. There are many who would propose to go well before that.’
It strikes me, then, as sadly ironic the latest champion of legalised murder, aka euthanasia, is a medical practitioner. It’s not that I don’t have a lot of sympathy with Dr John Pollock, the North Shore GP who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and given just months to live. I can identify, too, with his wish to be able to control the end of his life. I have no fear of death; I will go, I hope willingly, when the Lord calls my name. But that is not to say that I do not have any concern about the nature of my passing. Naturally, I want it to be quick and easy, but the last thing I’m prepared to do is selfishly to permit someone to break the Sixth Commandment, ‘You shall not kill,’ and thus place themself in eternal jeopardy. I am persuaded that one of
the fundamental reasons for all the murder and violence we are confronted with almost daily is that our traditional belief in the sanctity of life has been diluted, by open-slather abortion as much as anything else, to such an extent that, even in what we fondly call civilisation, life is becoming cheap. Back in the late 1970s when abortion was ‘decriminalised’ many people predicted that abortion on demand would soon follow. But never in our wildest nightmares did we foresee that the abortion law reform would give birth to a multimillion dollar industry, putting to death 18,000-odd potential New Zealanders every year. And the same thing will happen if euthanasia is legalised. For incontrovertible evidence of that we just have to look at the Netherlands,
Garth George Advocating against euthanasia is Garth George, who is a Christian and regular columist for the New Zealand Herald newspaper.
‘It’s the feeling of helplessness as you lie there, the feeling that you know you’re going to die...’
where in 1984 the Dutch Supreme Court ruled voluntary euthanasia was acceptable, provided doctors followed strict guidelines. In 1993, the British House of Lords formed a select committee to study first-hand voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands. The committee consisted of eminent medical professionals with 80 per cent of them predisposed to the idea of assisted suicide and euthanasia. However, after visiting the Netherlands, the select committee published its findings and Lord Walton of Detchant wrote the conclusion in February of 1994. This is what he said, and it should be memorised by every MP and every member of our medical profession: ‘We concluded that it was virtually impossible to ensure that all acts of euthanasia were truly voluntary, and that any
liberalisation of the law in the UK could not be abused. ‘We were also concerned that vulnerable people - the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed - would feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to request early death.’ One of the members of the committee later revealed that its members had met a Dutch ‘euthanasia doctor’ on the last day of their visit. They asked him how he felt administering the lethal injection. He replied: ‘The night before the first time, I couldn’t sleep. The second time, it wasn’t so bad - and after the third [he grinned] it was a piece of cake.’ The select committee stood appalled with one responding with; ‘We had just witnessed the ‘slippery slope’ personified.’ Has anything changed? Just last month Britain’s Daily Mail ran a report on a Canadian study
of euthanasia in Belgium under the headline, ‘Warning to Britain as almost half of Belgium’s euthanasia nurses admit to killing without consent’. We have no control over our birthing and used to have no control over our dying. Nowadays, advances in medical science, in analgesic drugs and palliative care, have ensured that 95 per cent of people who die of terminal illnesses die as comfortably as humanely possible. We don’t need legal euthanasia. We’re sliding down enough slippery slopes as it is.
Pollock said suicide was an option for him but it was cruel that his family could not be around for his death as they would run the risk of being accused of complicity. Suicide also meant taking action when one was physically and mentally able to do so, and this was often before the person was ready, he said. Pollock said while he had melanoma, he had not had a spot on his skin and the cancer was only discovered when it was in his lungs. Doctors said he probably had a melanoma that briefly appeared on his skin, metastasised, then disappeared from the surface. His death from lung cancer would probably include ‘suffocating or drowning in my own spit’. Pollock said he dreaded being struck by something that incapacitated him and made him unable to take action or communicate his wishes. He wanted it to be legal for patients to make arrangements with doctors for the end of life. Foley said Pollock was an activist who was ‘using his death to get the issue back in the spotlight. Emotions can sometimes over-ride reasoned debate,’ he said.
‘WE DON’T NEED LEGAL EUTHANASIA. WE’RE SLIDING DOWN ENOUGH SLIPPERY SLOPES AS IT IS.’
What Can You Do?
+ Join the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, by going to www.ves.co.nz. + Join the pro Euthanasia Facebook page by heading to www.facebook.com/pages/Legalise- Euthanasia-in-New-Zealand. + Talk to others about Voluntary Euthanasia and spread the word about having choices in dying. + Discuss the topic with your doctor, health and social workers and minister. + Lobby your MP and make your views known. + Carry an appropriate ‘Advance Directive’ so your wishes are known in the event of illness or accident. Copies can be obtained by Members from our Voluntary Euthanasia Society. + Actively use the media to convey the message: Write to newspapers, phone talk back radio, post your opinion on blogs.
‘A Peaceful Death is Everybody’s Right.’
‘…STRIPPED OF ALL THE EMOTIVE AND EMOTIONAL CLAPTRAP THAT SURROUNDS THE WORD EUTHANASIA, IT IS IN FACT MURDER.’
LIFE OR DEATH