Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Oppose Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Because It Is Ableist

This article was published by the disability rights group - Not Dead Yet on August 15, 2017

By Carol Cleigh Sutton

The very heart of the argument for assisted suicide/euthanasia (AS/E) is that an individual may be better off dead than disabled.

The fact that this argument can be made in respectable public forums demonstrates just how ableist this society is. How deeply the severely abled fear and loathe those of us who live with disability.

Ableism, like racism and sexism, is an ugly prejudice that society holds towards its minority members.

What does ableism look like? First you exclude us from nearly all public life and especially gainful employment and instead put us ‘on the dole.’ Then, periodically, you cut those supports from under us or make us try to prove that we’re ‘worthy’ of such supports. You openly stare at us and your comments and prurient questions make public spaces hostile. If we object, you accuse us of being maladjusted or just not being able to take a joke. A disabled man in the Netherlands is constantly told that it is ‘his fault’ that he lives with a disability; after all, he could kill himself. Where AS/E has become the norm, disabled people are even more outcast.

Our lives are seen as not worth living, but these are the lives we have.

This ideology, which we call BDTD (Better Dead Than Disabled), permeates ableist society, but even more deeply infects the medical system, and the more society in general accepts it, the more we encounter it every time we have to deal with medicine. My husband, who was nearly 80 and disabled, was brought to the hospital by ambulance after a heart attack. Until I arrived and started raising the roof, they put him in a dark room in the back. He should have been connected to an EKG and given aspirin, and IV lines should have been established. But because he was disabled, he received none of this. They assumed he’d want to die. Thankfully, we had years after that, but if I’d been held up in traffic? Would their killing him have been prosecuted? Investigated?

Are you really wanting to create this ‘special class’ of people who can be killed and no one prosecuted? A class whose deaths won’t even be investigated? Is your ableism so strong that you’d change the law to allow others to kill us without consequence? That is what happens in Oregon. Thomas Middleton’s death was not prosecuted. Did he ingest the poison willingly or was his death part of the real estate fraud for which his ‘caregiver’ was prosecuted? It’s already all too easy for those who would inherit, or steal, our property to arrange our deaths. Do you really want to make it easier? In US jurisdictions, assisted suicide laws give immunity to those who kill so long as they choose their victims from among the old, ill and disabled.

Before you say that this isn’t about disability, it’s only for those who are imminently dying, let me remind you of two things: First, physicians are notoriously bad at predicting when we’ll die. Oregon state data show that people outlive their 6 month prognosis every year; one lived for 1009 days. (2016 report, page 11) I’m 10 years past my last expiration date, and more than 60 years past the first, and still going strong. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there has never been an instance where this is legalized that it hasn’t expanded far beyond those at whom it was originally aimed, sometimes with breathtaking speed. Canada is already moving to use it on people who are not imminently dying and they legalized it just a year ago and, in the Netherlands, even those who advocated for it say that it is out of control.

Because the argument is based on BDTD, all who are considered disabled are at risk.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Double euthanasia in the Netherlands

This article was published by Wesley Smith on August 14, 2017

Wesley Smith
emember when society considered it a tragedy when old people killed themselves? 

Now, apparently, it is celebrated as a splendid “death with dignity” choice. From the Telegraph story
An elderly couple died holding hands surrounded by loved ones in a rare double euthanasia. 
Nic and Trees Elderhorst, both 91, died in their hometown of Didam, in the Netherlands, after 65 years of marriage. The couple both suffered from deteriorating physical health over the past five years, with Mr Elderhorst left with reduced mobility after a stroke in 2012. 
Walking had also become increasingly difficult for his wife, who had also suffered from memory loss. 
“It soon became clear that it could not wait much longer,” the couple’s daughter told The Gelderlander [translated]. “The geriatrician determined that our mother was still mentally competent. However, if our father were to die, she could become completely disoriented, ending up in a nursing home. 
“Something which she desperately did not want. Dying together was their deepest wish.”
There you go again, Wesley “slippery sloping away!” 

No. Facts on the ground. Joint euthanasia or assisted suicides of elderly couples have also taken place in Switzerland and Belgium

This is the thing: Once a society accepts killing as an acceptable answer to current and feared future suffering, then what constitutes sufficient difficulty to qualify to be made dead becomes very elastic. 

Et voila, before you know it, the children of elderly parents attend and celebrate their joint euthanasia killings–instead of urging them to remain alive and assuring them that they will be loved and cared for, come what may. 

Euthanasia corrupts everything it touches, including the perceptions of children’s obligations to aging parents and society’s duties toward their elderly members. 

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Why was a woman with disabilities urged to accept assisted death, instead of assistance to live?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Carmela Hutchison who is the President of the DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN) Canada), an executive member of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and a mental health advocate, wonders why a woman with disabilities, such as herself, was urged to die by assisted death, rather than offered assistance to live, in her article that was published by Rabble on August 1. This is what Hutchison wrote:
People with disabilities and their caregivers are at risk for being made to say yes to medical assistance in dying when they don't want to. 
On July 24, 2017, CBC reported a story about a 25-year-old woman living in Newfoundland who has many disabilities. While she was hospitalized for illness, the doctor made a suggestion to her mother that she could consider medical assistance in dying (MAiD) as a choice for her daughter's future. Her mother was reminded that assisted suicide is now legal in Canada. 
Just over a year ago, the federal government passed a law allowing medical assistance in dying, after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on assisted suicide. 
The disability community was gravely concerned about the medical assistance in dying law. The Newfoundland case is exactly the kind of situation many of us were afraid would happen. 
One of the problems with this legislation is that it exists in a society that is deeply ableist. Abelism is the belief that a disabled person's body is worse than the able person's body. The worst of this point of view is evident when people with disabilities are told that it is better to be dead than to be disabled. 
Like the young woman in Newfoundland, I have multiple disabilities. Last year, I was put in hospital for an infection and put into a coma so my body could rest. When I first came out of the coma, after telling me I was restrained so I would not pull out the breathing tube, my nurse's first words were "I know the tube is miserable, I'd kill myself if I had to have one." She was trying to be understanding and, to be fair, many people worked really hard to save my life. But the words still hurt my feelings, because I had been very afraid to go to ICU because of MAiD. People with disabilities need to trust their doctors and nurses. We need to feel safe when we go to the hospital. 
People with disabilities often have higher rates of other illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, along with their original disabilities. This is often called complex care or multiple barriers. Yet they are often made to feel ashamed for needing more care when they have more disabilities or health conditions at the very time they need the most support. 
The Vulnerable Persons Standard (VPS) was made to help protect people like us from being forced to choose MAiD when we might not want to. The VPS was also made to try to protect people with disabilities from people who might try to abuse MAiD. 
Developed by advisers qualified in medicine, law, politics, ethics and advocacy for people with disabilities, the Standard says that: 
"Extensive research shows that a wide range of factors related to social, financial, psychological and spiritual suffering can lead patients to request Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD)…" 
It warns us about using MAiD instead of giving the right care to people with disabilities and serious illnesses. 
My experience, and that of the woman in Newfoundland, are like the experiences of many women with disabilities across Canada. Women are the majority of people with disabilities who are choosing MAiD. In the 1995 publication Don't Tell Me to Take a Hot Bath: Resource Manual For Crisis Workers by Shirley Masuda, the author correctly predicted that the "right to die" would become the "duty to die." Women with disabilities are being seen as burdens. 
But women with disabilities do not seek MAiD because they are disabled. It is because we lack access to suicide prevention services, trauma-informed treatment, addiction services, and are often trapped -- in isolation, poverty and abuse. We fall into despair because within society and sometimes within our own families we are not valued and we lack the services and supports we need to lead safe and effective lives. 
People with disabilities, especially women, need accessible medical care, home care, community-based supports, employment, and support in being active and engaged members of our communities. 
We need assistance in living.
Further information

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Vatican Says NO To Euthanasia - to Belgium Catholic Psychiatric Institutions.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last April, Belgian Catholic psychiatric hospitals that are operated by the Brothers of Charity, announced that they would allow euthanasia to be done in their institutions.

Soon after, Brother Rene Stockman, the superior general of the Brothers of Charity order, said he was devastated by the news and he asked the Vatican to intervene in this case.

According to Zenit news, the Vatican sent a letter to the Belgian Brothers of Charity condemning euthanasia and ordering them to stop euthanasia in their psychiatric institutions. Zenit news reported:
Vatican Radio reported August 11, 2017 that the Vatican Press Office confirmed that the Pope ordered the Brothers of Charity in Belgium to stop allowing euthanasia in the 15 psychiatric hospitals the group operates. The order came in a letter in early August. 
The decision to allow euthanasia at Catholic psychiatric hospitals in Belgium was condemned by the Vatican through the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and the Brothers of Charity superior general in Rome, Bro. René Stockman.
The American Psychiatric Association recently condemned euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. The APA statement says:
The American Psychiatric Association, in concert with the American Medical Association’s position on medical euthanasia, holds that a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death.

Popular articles against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

1. Margaret Dore: Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice - Feb 17, 2011.

2. Declaration of Hope – Jan 1, 2016.

3. Healthy 24 year old Belgian woman was scheduled for euthanasia - June 24, 2015.

4. Kitty Holman: 5 reasons why people devalue the elderly – May 25, 2010. 

5. Emily “Laura” the healthy 24-year-old Belgian woman who was approved for euthanasia, has chosen to live. Nov 12, 2015.  

6. Boycott Me Before You - "disability death porn" - May 26, 2016. 

7. Depressed Belgian woman dies by Euthanasia – Feb 6, 2013.

8.  Euthanasia is out-of-control in the Netherlands – Sept 25, 2012.

9. Kate Kelly: Mild stroke led to mother’s forced death by dehydration – Sept 27, 2011.

10. Belgian twins euthanized out of fear of blindness. – Jan 14, 2013.

11.  The Euthanasia Deception documentary. - Sept 30, 2016.

12. Assisted suicide law prompts insurance company to deny coverage to terminally ill woman - Oct 20, 2016. 

13. Nitschke promotes lethal veterinary drugs – June 22, 2010.

14. South Africa Supreme Court rejects euthanasia - Dec 6, 2016.

15. Woman dies by euthanasia, may only have had a bladder infection - Nov 14, 2016.

16. Opposing the Supreme Court of Canada assisted death decision - Feb 17, 2015.

17. Woman with Anorexia Nervosa dies by euthanasia in Belgium – Feb 10, 2013.

18. Belgium warns - Medical Assistance in Dying - Don't Go There - April 26, 2016.

19. Netherlands euthanasia review committee decides that a euthanasia done on a woman with dementia was done in "good faith" -  Jan 28, 2017.

20. New Jersey Senate may vote on assisted suicide - Dec 16, 2014.

21.  Trisomy 18 is not a Death Sentence. The Lilliana Dennis story – May 29, 2012.

22. Oregon 2012 assisted suicide statistics: An analysis - Jan 25, 2013.

23. Dutch ethicist changed his mind - Assisted Suicide: Don't Go There - July 16, 2014.

24. Mother upset after doctor urged her to approve assisted death for her daughter with disabilities - July 26, 2017.

25. Supreme Court of Canada euthanasia decision is irresponsible and dangerousFeb 7, 2015.

Become a member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition ($25) membership.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Is euthanasia corrupting transplant ethics?

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on August 8, 2017.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

In my very first anti-euthanasia column, published by Newsweek in 1993, I worried that once medicalized killing became accepted, it would soon be joined by “organ harvesting as a plum to society.” 

“Alarmist!” I was called. “Slippery slope arguer!” It will never happen, I was assured. 

Until it did. 

Now in both Netherlands and Belgium, mentally ill and disabled patients are voluntarily euthanized and their organs harvested after being killed. Canada is discussing joining the infamous duo. 

I have waited for the organ transplant community to rise up and reject conjoining killing and organ donation. It has been a wait mostly in vain. 

Indeed, a letter in the current Journal of the American Medical Association merely warns against haste in widely instituting such a policy due to safety concerns: 
I urge caution before this practice is widely accepted. First, only short-term functional outcomes immediately after transplantation and at 6 months are available. Second, warm ischemia, an inevitable consequence of organ donation after cardiac death, results in greater risk for transplanted organs…  
There is a need to study long-term outcomes of transplanted organs resulting from euthanasia so that truly informed consent can be obtained. 
How starkly utilitarian can you get? 

If all that matters is consent–the clear implication of this letter–why would donors have to be suffering sufficiently to qualify for euthanasia? 

Indeed, why not let healthy people who simply want to die and believe others–who want to live–have a greater claim on their livers and hearts volunteer to be killed and harvested? 

The authors of the original article make in an equally bloodless, technocratic reply: 
Euthanasia is performed according to local protocol by injection of a drug to induce coma, followed by a muscle relaxant. After circulatory arrest, a waiting time of 5 minutes is respected before the patient is transferred to the operating room for organ removal.  
Compared with other donations after cardiac death, the process of dying is short (often less than 10-15 minutes), and death is not preceded by medical deterioration in the intensive care unit.  
Euthanasia donors are, on average, younger than other cardiac death donors. Better transplant results may therefore occur in organ donation after euthanasia compared with donation after other causes of cardiac death, but additional studies are required. 
Where are we as a society that killing and harvesting are respectfully discussed in one of the world’s most respected medical journals–and no one brings up crucial issues of right and wrong? 

As just one quick example: What could be more dangerous than letting despairing people believe that their deaths could have greater value than their lives? Becoming a donor could be the final factor that induces them to opt for euthanasia or assisted suicide. 

For that matter, how dangerous would it be if society ever came to accept that the hastened deaths of the despairing could offer a “plum?” 

Euthanasia corrupts everything it touches–including, it would seem, the ethics of organ transplant medicine.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The worst doctors can become death doctors.

The article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on August 6, 2017.

Wesley Smith
y Wesley Smith

The New York Times is on an assisted suicide/euthanasia promotion juggernaut. Recently, it had a magazine-length, front page story swooning story about a euthanasia party in Canada. 

Today, a major front-page opinion section column by a doctor supporting assisted suicide–but hand-wringing about it being done carefully. First, Jessica Nutik Zitter admits she might have assisted the suicide of a patient whose motive for wanting to die now was resentment and a feeling of abandonment from his sister. From, “Should I Help My Patients Die?“: 
His despair had given way to rage. “Let’s just end this,” he said. “I’m fed up with my lousy life.” He really didn’t care, he added, that his sister opposed his decision. His request appeared to stem from a deep family wound, not his terminal illness… 
At our second meeting, with more trust established, he issued a sob, almost a keening. He felt terrified and powerless, he said. He didn’t want to live this way anymore. I understood. I could imagine my own distress in his condition — being shuttled like a bag of bones between the nursing home and the hospital. It was his legal right to request this intervention from me. But given how uncomfortable I was feeling, was it my right to say no? 
It seems to me it was her duty to say no–just as she would if the patient didn’t have a terminal illness. 

Indeed, as a palliative care doctor, she should declare her practice an assisted suicide free zone to make sure there is never any public confusion between pain and symptom control and intentionally participating in suicide. 

Also notice the man’s intent to commit suicide was not due to physical suffering caused by the disease. Indeed, actual suffering–much less suffering that can’t be alleviated–isn’t required by assisted any suicide laws either. One just needs the terminal diagnosis–sometimes mistaken–to qualify for the lethal pills. Actual suffering has nothing to do with it. 

This was Zitter’s first time being asked to assist suicide, and she was troubled. (Good for her. She should have been.) So, she made a deal with the patient to go on four weeks of anti-depressants. He later changed his mind and he died naturally three months later. 

But note: She could have lethally prescribed. Some doctors–particularly those ideologically predisposed to assisted suicide–would have. 

And the patient might not have lived long enough to change his mind. Even Zitter implies she would have-despite her knowledge of his reasons–had he made another request in four weeks after taking the anti-depressants. 

I know some readers will choose to miss the point and say this story shows the law working because the man didn’t kill himself. 

But there will be others who will kill themselves before sufficient time passes to change their minds–and we will never know who they are because they will be dead. 

Indeed, I have met several people who would have killed themselves if assisted suicide were legal but were so glad it wasn’t because they eventually changed their minds. 

But note, Zitter then points to Lonnie Shavelson as the epitome of committed death doctors that society should trust to do assisted suicide right. 

She describes Shavelson as an emergency room and primary care doctor. That overstates his credentials. For most of his medical career, Shavelson was a part time, contract ER doc. He also did some health clinic work for poor immigrants. 

But he is not a board certified specialist in providing ongoing care for cancer patients, kidney disease patients, diabetics, or indeed, other serious conditions. Indeed, until California legalized assisted suicide, he was mostly out of medicine, pursuing a career as a photo journalist and author. He certainly isn’t a specialist in caring for dying patients. He’s no hospice doc.  

When assisted suicide was legalized, he started “practicing medicine” again–as a death doctor, willing to help make people dead for $2000. Moreover, he has a deep ideological commitment to assisted suicide. How deep is it? He once watched a Hemlock Society leader murder a stroke victim who had asked to die but changed his mind. Instead, she holds a plastic bag over his head. From page 92 of Shavelson’s book: A Chosen Death: 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Netherlands: Euthanasia and assisted suicide accounted for 5% of all deaths in 2016.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) recently published the data from the five year Netherlands euthanasia study entitled: End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years.

The data from the study indicates that there were 7254 assisted deaths (6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths, 431 terminations of life without request) and 18,213 deaths whereby the medical decisions that were intended to bring about the death in the Netherlands in 2015.

According to the Netherlands 2015 euthanasia report there were 5561 reported assisted deaths in 2015 and yet the data from the study indicates that there were 7254 assisted deaths in 2015. Therefore, there were 1693 unreported assisted deaths (approximately 23%) in 2015.

Based on the data from the study, many news articles stated that 4.5% of all deaths in the Netherlands were by euthanasia. 

When analyzing the data from the study, in 2015, there were 147,134 deaths from all causes, there were 6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths and 431 terminations of life without request in the Netherlands. Based on the euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths alone there were 6822 assisted deaths representing more than 4.6% of all deaths.

Since the study analyzed 2015 data and since the number of assisted deaths increased by 10% in the Netherlands in 2016, therefore euthanasia and assisted suicide represented more than 5% of all deaths in the Netherlands in 2016.
Further to that, in January 2016, euthanasia was extended to people with severe dementia in the Netherlands.

A study published in the Journal of Psychiatry (Feb 10, 2016) 
uncovered significant concerns with euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in the Netherlands. According to researcher Scott Kim: one EAS case, a woman who died by euthanasia was in her 70s without health problems had decided, with her husband, that they would not live without each other. After her husband died, she lived a life described as a "living hell" that was "meaningless." 
A consultant reported that this woman "did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities."
At the same time, the suicide rate in the Netherlands is at an all time high.

The reality is that euthanasia is out-of-control in the Netherlands study. This information should be a wake-up call for Canada, that legalized euthanasia last year and Australia, who are currently debating the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Netherlands five year study shows significant increases in assisted deaths and continued abuse of the law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On June 30, I published the data from the Netherlands five year study concerning End-of-Life Decisions. I received the data from one of our supporters who does research related to assisted death who sent me the link before it was officially published.

Netherlands study: 431 people were killed without explicit request in 2015.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published the data today, from the five year Netherlands euthanasia study entitled: End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years.

The NEJM report compares the data from the 1990 study to the data from 2015 study. By comparing the 1990 data to the 2015 data it lessens the effect of the large number of euthanasia deaths. The growth in euthanasia doesn't appear as tragic when expressed as increases over 25 years.

The NEJM report states:
The percentage of patients in whom an end-of-life decision had preceded death increased from 39% in 1990 to 58% in 2015. In 1990, 1.7% of all deaths were the result of euthanasia; in 2015, the percentage was 4.5%. The rate of physician-assisted suicide varied between 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. In 2015, physician assistance in dying was requested by 8.3% of all deceased persons. Ending of life without an explicit patient request decreased, from 0.8% in 1990 to 0.3% in 2015. The use of morphine to alleviate symptoms while taking into account possible hastening of death as a result increased from 19% of all deaths in 1990 to 36% in 2010 and 2015. Continuous deep sedation was provided in 8.2% of all patients in 2005 and in 18.3% in 2015; this practice involved the use of benzodiazepines, often combined with an opioid, in 83% and 95% of all cases, respectively.
When publishing the 2015 Netherlands euthanasia data I stated:
The data from the 2015 study concerning ending-of-life decisions in the Netherlands was recently published. In 2015 there were 7254 assisted deaths (6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths, 431 termination of life without request) and 18,213 deaths whereby the medical decisions that were intended to bring about the death.

Clear abuse of the Netherlands euthanasia law.

According to the Netherlands 2015 official euthanasia report there were 5561 reported assisted deaths in 2015 and yet the data from the study indicates that there were 7254 assisted deaths in 2015. Therefore, there were 1693 unreported assisted deaths (approximately 23%) in 2015.
The 431 terminations of life without explicit request had increased from 310 in 2010.

Based on the five year interval reports: 
• In 2005 there were 2425 assisted deaths (20% were not reported and 550 deaths were without explicit request). 
In 2010 there were 4050 assisted deaths (23% were not reported and 310 deaths were without explicit request). 
• In 2015 there were 7254 assisted deaths (23% were not reported and 431 deaths were without explicit request).
The study was done in a similar manner as the previous studies in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010. The researchers sent out questionnaires to the attending physicians concerning deaths from August - November 2015 in the Netherlands. The researchers sent out 9351 questionnaires and 7277 (78%) questionnaires were returned.

The data from the 2015 Netherlands study should be a wake-up call for Canada, that legalized assisted death last year and Australia, who are fervently debating the legalization of assisted death.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Great News: New Zealand Health Committee report on euthanasia does not recommend legalisation.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg debating
Maryan Street in 2013
he New Zealand Health Committee report on euthanasia that 
received 22,000 submissions over a two year period, and direct input from 1000 people, including myself, did not recommend legalizing euthanasia.

The Committee was formed based on an all-party agreement in response to a petition from Maryan Street, a former Labour MP.

According to the article written by Isaac Davison that was published by the New Zealand Herald, Committee chair Simon O'Connor said that the Committee did not make any formal recommendations to the government but provided a summary of the arguments for and against assisted dying. O'Connor said:
"We've tried to distill all the arguments and our recommendation to both the Parliament and the people of New Zealand is to read this report and come to a deeper understanding of what's been asked around assisted suicide and euthanasia." 
"As I look at it myself, the arguments are quite compelling that while we understand why people ask for this, it's equally an issue for public safety and not a prudent step to make."
Simon O'Connor
O'Connor stated that in his personal view, the report did not indicate that assisted dying should be legalised. O'Connor told Davison:

"It is about actually understanding the arguments for and against and making a decision about which ones are correct."
"It is very difficult to see how there could be sufficient safeguards to actually protect vulnerable people in New Zealand. And that's been the experience overseas as well." 
"It probably comes down to the simple question of 'How many errors would Parliament would be willing to accept in this space?'" 
And while there were some doctors who supported a change, there was strong opposition from some parts of the medical profession who said it was not compatible with their work.
The Committee report concludes by stating that:
"This issue is clearly very complicated, very divisive and extremely contentious. 
"We therefore encourage everyone with an interest in the subject to read the report in full and to draw their conclusions based on the evidence we have presented."
The New Zealand Herald article concludes by stating that the bill to legalize euthanasia that has been introduced by David Seymour is unlikely to be debated before the next election.

Congratulations to the leaders of Euthanasia Free New Zealand and everyone who made a submission to the Committee.

New Zealand Report confirms majority opposition to ‘assisted dying’

Aug 2, 2017
Media release
[Link to the Media Release]

Euthanasia-Free NZ welcomes the Report of Parliament’s Health Select Committee on their extensive investigation of public attitudes to ‘assisted dying’ legislation.

The report seems to be a fairly balanced summary of what the Committee heard from submitters, stating,

“These submissions provided not only a numerical indication of submitters’ sentiments, but also allowed them to explain their position in more detail than could be provided in response to a simple question in a poll.” (p.15)
80% opposed to changing the law

The report confirms the findings of majority opposition to changing the law by the Every Life Research Unit and the Care Alliance. It states,

“Eighty percent of submitters were opposed to a change in legislation that would allow assisted dying and euthanasia. Submitters primarily argued that the public would be endangered. They cited concern for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and the disabled, those with mental illnesses, and those susceptible to coercion. Others argued that life has an innate value and that introducing assisted dying and euthanasia would explicitly undermine that idea. To do so would suggest that some lives are worth more than others. There were also concerns that, once introduced, eligibility for assisted dying would rapidly expand well beyond what was first intended.” (p.47)
Lack of services

The report suggests that there is much that the Government and society should do to address suffering, without changing the law.

The Committee encourage the Government to investigate improving access to grief counselling.

The Committee was also concerned that “there is a lack of awareness about the role of palliative care, that access to it is unequal, and that there are concerns about the sustainability of the workforce.” (p.42)

“Without everyone having access to health services when they need them, a choice to request euthanasia or assisted suicide would not actually be a free one,” responds Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.
The risk of coercion

The Report mentions that,

“Submitters were concerned that individuals could be coerced into assisted dying. Submitters also argued that people with life-limiting illnesses are vulnerable, even if they are well educated and have family support. Several submitters spoke about the fear that family members would put subtle pressure on individuals because they wanted to inherit, or to avoid spending money on care. Many submitters expressed fear that if assisted dying or euthanasia were institutionalised, the disabled, the elderly, and the ill could experience greater social prejudice. We heard various stories from overseas in which members of these groups felt societal pressure to end their life. Submitters were also concerned that the option could evolve into an expectation, and that the right to die would soon be seen as a duty to die.” (p.21)
Safeguards vs eligibility criteria

On page 37 the report states, “Opponents and supporters of a law change both identified effective safeguards as an important part of any assisted dying legislation. Many of the safeguards proposed were actually eligibility criteria.”

“David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill is an example of a bill that claims to have safeguards, but in reality consists merely of eligibility criteria and a description of a legal process, which cannot prevent, let alone reliably detect, a person being pressured or abused,” says Ms Joubert. 
“When making a formal request for euthanasia a person may claim it as their voluntary decision. However, they may have arrived at that point due to pressure or abuse that has occurred behind closed doors,” says Ms Joubert. “How is a doctor, or any third party for that matter, to prevent or reliably detect what happened over time and in secret?” 
“Assisted dying legislation is simply too risky in a society in which elder and relationship abuse are growing concerns, but remain largely unreported.”
Euthanasia-Free NZ encourages MPs and candidates to read the Committee’s report in full and reject the Seymour Bill at First Reading.