#DefendNZ Media Release. The grassroots movement opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill – has listed their Top 5 Reasons why MPs should vote “no” at its Second Reading. The End of Life Choice Bill, should it pass, would put vulnerable people in danger of being coerced into requesting death, and of turning to death as a release from feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, or of concern about being a burden on loved ones.
Care Alliance: The ‘Doctors Say No’ Open Letter opposing euthanasia has received its 1,000th signature. Organiser Dr Sinead Donnelly, a Wellington-based Palliative Medicine specialist, says she is humbled by the response. “We started with just a very simple one-page website and it has snowballed through word of mouth and social media.” Dr Donnelly says that David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill “only includes doctors to provide a cloak of medical legitimacy. Killing is not caring. It does not require any medical skills, it just requires the abandonment of medical ethics.”
By Alex Penk. After months of thought and argument, the justice select committee has thrown the End of Life Choice Bill back in Parliament's lap. We're in the strange situation where no-one, not even sponsor David Seymour, is supporting the Bill as it is. The select committee couldn't agree that the bill should pass and made only technical changes to it, deliberately leaving major questions hanging. Supporters are trying to invest the procedure with the illusion of certainty, but the bill is now overshadowed by ambiguity.
Morning Report: An open letter to the government calling for greater scrutiny to tidy up what they say are unacceptable loopholes in the End of Life Choice Bill has been signed by 75 lawyers and academics. One of those lawyers, Grant Illingworth QC, told Morning Report he was concerned by a loophole in the bill that could mean 16-year-olds could apply for assisted dying without their parents' knowledge.
By Emma Hatton. Dion Howard, a therapist who specialises in youth suicide is concerned not enough is known about how assisted dying may affect vulnerable youth. He said some coverage of the Bill had glorified assisted dying, "I've had instances of young people quoting Exit International methods on how to take your own life, which became a part of our risk assessments of their situations. That was concerning to me."
Simon Shepherd: With Act Party Leader David Seymour debated his controversial End of Life Choice Bill with Care Alliance Secretary Peter Thirkell on Newshub Nation. Thirkell says, “There’s a huge amount of expert evidence and evidence from the public saying please don’t do this. It puts vulnerable people at risk, it disrupts the doctor/patient relationship and requires them to participate in a system that would be unethical. The overseas experience certainly is not reassuring.”
With Marama T-Pole. This week’s talanoa (dialogue) we are joined by Dr Ate Moala. Dr Moala says, “It will be the first time in the history of Aotearoa, and of course will flow over to our South Pacific nations, for doctors to be allowed to legally kill their patients – and death then will become a medical treatment for doctors to do. And in the current constraints of the District Health Boards, New Zealand healthcare resources, a death will be cheaper.”
With Marama T-Pole. Pacific opponents of the End of Life Choice Bill stepped up efforts in the Capital this week with a rally at Parliament. Around 100 members of the Wellington Pacific community converged on the steps of Parliament to meet Pacific MPs and put forward their objections. The Bill would give terminally ill people the option of requesting help to die. Opponents say it will widen health inequality for Pacific people.
#DefendNZ Media Release. According to many, any attempt to limit access to euthanasia to those likely to die within six months would be difficult, if not impossible. This is because of the very imperfect art that is prognosis. This concern is captured perfectly in the story of Glenn Major, whose wife Heather and daughter Rachel recount his journey with terminal illness and disability, in the fifth documentary from #DefendNZ: When prognosis is wrong.
With Jack Tame. Richard McLeod from Lawyers for Vulnerable New Zealanders says the current bill is “unworkable”. As well as Māori, the LVNZ says the Bill poses a threat to other marginalised groups including the elderly, the poor and the lonely.
By Sophie Bateman & Anna Bracewell-Worrall. A group of lawyers advocating for vulnerable Kiwis says David Seymour's euthanasia bill poses a serious threat to Māori. "This Bill threatens vulnerable Māori who are old, sick or disabled and who are already being failed by our health system according to a large claim currently before the Waitangi Tribunal." Dr Huhana Hickey says.
Dr Huhuna Hickey. “We’ve just done a massive fundraising campaign for Mike King’s [Gumboot] campaign, and here we are now willing to bring in legal suicide basically? There is a danger in this legislation, and it comes with irreversible, irremediable, and terminal. I qualify under that, and I’ve still got a good lot of life left in me.”
Lately: Karyn Hay with Alex Penk. Maxim Institute CEO Alex Penk says the Justice Committee’s report leaves the Bill in a form that almost nobody supports, not even David Seymour himself. At the moment MPs are being asked to vote on a Bill that’s basically the version that nobody supports.
With Larry Williams & Sinead Donnelly. Palliative Care experts say we shouldn't allow euthanasia – using Canada as an example, with lots of unwanted outcomes. Dr Sinead Donnelly is a Palliative Care Doctor in Wellington and explains that the risks are huge to the vulnerable in New Zealand society. She cites dangerous examples of expansion in both Canada and Oregon where forms of assisted dying are legal.
Checkpoint: Lisa Owen with Dr Huhana Hickey. A group of 75 lawyers says it may have to take legal action to stop the End of Life Choice Bill, because it's loose criteria leaves vulnerable people open to coercion. Lisa Owen interviews spokesperson for Lawyers for Vulnerable New Zealanders, Dr Huhana Hickey.
#DefendNZ Media Release. In their Report, released today, the Justice Committee details hundreds of problems with the End of Life Choice Bill, but fixes none of the substantial ones. The Committee reports that they heard that the Bill’s criteria are too wide and vague, and the Bill doesn’t protect against coercion. That the Bill may undermine suicide prevention programmes, and it may breach the Treaty of Waitangi. To name a few.
About two-hundred people gathered in parliament grounds to protest against the bill. One of the speakers at the rally, Dr Luatupu Cleverley, said the legislation compounded poor health outcomes for the Pacific community. Pacific people already suffer the worst statistics in the New Zealand health system and the bill goes against their culture and traditions, Dr Cleverley said. It is traditional for Pacific families to look after their own and the government should focus on improving palliative care, she said.
Malcolm Jordan and Alex Mason. A major rally against David Seymour’s euthanasia Bill is underway in front of Parliament, with the Justice Select Committee reporting back to the house today. But a group representing Pacific Island communities is against it. The group says safeguards in the Bill will not protect the most vulnerable, particularily Pacific people who have some of the worst health statistics. They say it ignores respectful customs surrounding death and would lead to the abuse of the elderly, ill and vulnerable, and distrust of the medical profession.
By Janine Rankin. Palmerston North woman Vicki Walsh has well and truly out-lived her life insurance payout. Diagnosed with the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme nearly eight years ago, the prognosis was that she would be dead in 12 to 14 months. She nearly was. Not from the cancer, but by her own hand.
#DefendNZ Media Release. Vicki Walsh speaks out against the End of Life Choice Bill in documentary Terminal but not dead yet. In 2011 she was diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), also known as Grade 4 astrocytoma, an advanced form of the brain cancer that Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales was diagnosed with in the same year.
By Alex Penk. This week, Alex Penk found himself agreeing with David Seymour when he said that there’s been “a constant misinformation campaign” about the End of Life Choice Bill. It’s just that the chief culprit was Seymour himself, he argues.
Former Māori Party co-leader Dame Tariana Turia says End of Life Choice Bill if passed would mark a potentially dangerous cultural and social shift in Aotearoa. Dame Tariana, whose former ministerial portfolios includes associate health and disability issues, says tikanga Māori is that death and dying are matters for the family and whānau to attend to.
By Malcolm Jordan and Raylene Ramsay: Dr John Fox say, “When you think about people you really know, I think New Zealanders will change their minds, and part of the reason why I agreed to tell my story is to put a face on the people who worry about the value of their life.”
By Sinead Donnelly. As the time approaches for Parliament's Justice Committee to report back on David Seymour's euthanasia and assisted suicide bill, it is timely to carefully review the impact of legalisation in countries like Canada, often cited by Seymour as exemplary.
By Dan Satherley and Ella Prendergast. A man with cerebral palsy has shared his harrowing story as he fights back against euthanasia. Lobby group Defend New Zealand has released its third documentary in their battle against David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill. Dr John Fox, who would be eligible, fears people may feel they're a burden if they don't choose to die.
#DefendNZ Media Release. Former First Lady of New Zealand Dr Mary English speaks out against the End of Life Choice Bill in the third documentary released today by #DefendNZ – a grassroots movement opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill. A life in chronic painfeatures the story of Dr John Fox of Christchurch, who was born with spastic hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.
By Jude Barback. While last night’s Health Central ChalkTalks panel discussion on the End of Life Choice Bill raised more questions than it did answers, it is clear that this is the conversation we need to be having. Panellists included Former Prime Minister Sir Bill English, Dr Leonie Herx, Claire Freeman (who features in the #DefendNZ documentary released Wednesday 3 April), David Seymour, Kerri Nuku of NZNO, and euthanasia advocate Dr Jack Havill.
By Dr Conrad Engelbrecht: Anaesthetist and Pain Medicine Specialist. “In debate around the End of Life Choice Bill, there is a lot of talk about pain and suffering. Is it possible to stop all pain and suffering? Can pain and suffering make a life no longer valuable, and make death a better option than life? What should a doctor's role be when a patient is experiencing intense pain and suffering?”
By Dr Conrad Engelbrecht: Anaesthetist and Pain Medicine Specialist. Waikato Hospital’s Conrad Engelbrecht wants politicians talking about policies and funding that provide patients with support they need to navigate what can be a difficult path from pain to improved quality of life. “As someone who works with people in pain every day, I can’t support the End of Life Choice Bill. It takes a vulnerable population, one that experiences depression and anxiety and already worries that their lives hold no value to society, and offers them suicide as a solution to their pain and suffering.”
#DefendNZ Media Release. The movement opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill – launches its second full-length documentary today, entitled A deadly double standard which features the story of Claire Freeman from Christchurch, who has been a tetraplegic since her neck was broken in a car accident at the age of 17. A multiple suicide survivor and former euthanasia advocate, she now speaks out against the End of Life Choice Bill.