Not a member? Join now »
Welcome to our news page. Please note: you must be a member and signed in to leave comments.
by Graham Adams
Anyone keen to see assisted dying laws passed in New Zealand will be heartened by the increasing momentum of campaigns across the Tasman.
Read more »
"As a disabled person myself I want the choice, if I’m in unbearable pain or suffering in my life, to end it in a way and at the time that I choose. I think it’s really important my voice and the voice of other disabled people, who aren’t afraid of the End Of Life Choice Bill becoming legislation, are heard as much as people who are not as supportive of the Bill."
Canada’s example has lessons for other countries, says Steven Fletcher
Source: The Guardian
Aug 20th 2018
WHAT it means to be alive versus living a full life are not abstract thought exercises to me. In 1996, at the age of 23, I became a quadriplegic. As a recent engineering graduate from the University of Manitoba, driving to work at a mining job, I hit a moose with my car. In an instant I was completely paralysed from the neck down.
Continue reading »
Media release from End-of-Life Choice Society – for immediate release August 16 2018
MP accused of being rude and aggressive in select committee hearings
The End-of-Life Choice Society has lodged a formal complaint about MP Maggie Barry, accusing her of being rude and aggressive in select committee hearings on assisted dying.
The society’s president Maryan Street complained about Barry’s “trademark rudeness and discourtesy” in a letter to Justice Select Committee chairman Raymond Huo. It was tabled with the committee at Parliament today.
Street said many members of the EOLC society had registered their concern at the MP’s treatment of them when they made submissions to the committee on David Seymour’s End of Life Choice bill.
“They have found her to be discourteous, disrespectful, dismissive and aggressive during their hearings. It is one thing for an MP to hold a dissenting view from a submitter; it is quite another to be rude and belittling when members of the public are submitting a contrary opinion.
“Ms Barry’s views on the EOLC Bill are well known. That is not the matter about which I am complaining. She is as entitled to her opinion as I am to mine. It is her now trademark rudeness and discourtesy which is the subject of my complaint, on behalf of others.”
Maryan Street said that for many people it had been their first experience of making a personal submission before a select committee and the MP had turned it “into a tortuous one”.
“They have come away feeling unheard and diminished. That should not be the outcome of any submitter’s experience of presenting to a select committee.”
The committee is touring the country to hear personal submissions on the bill and with several more months of hearings ahead before the committee reports back to Parliament, Maryan Street asked the chairman to require all MPs to “conduct themselves with the courtesy and respect which they themselves would like to be accorded”.
She added: “That is not too much to expect of our Parliamentary representatives, no matter how strongly their own opinions are held.”
Contact : Maryan Street 021 977 555
Released by David Barber, EOLC media adviser 021 072 8760
Press Release: End of Life Choice Society
August 13 2018
Biased MP should resign as deputy chair of select committee, says doctor
A prominent campaigner for assisted dying said Monday MP Maggie Barry should resign as deputy chair of the parliamentary committee considering the issue because she is blatantly biased and discourteous to submitters.
“She has been bringing the process into disrepute,” Dr Jack Havill, past president of the End-of-Life Choice Society, told members of the Justice Select Committee at a hearing in Hamilton.
A retired intensive care specialist, he was making an oral submission on ACT leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill, which would allow mentally competent New Zealand adults aged 18 and over with a terminal illness likely to end their life within six months, or suffering an irremediable and grievous medical condition, to ask a doctor to help end their life.
All eight members of the original committee voted for the bill when it passed its first reading in December but the National Party replaced two of its members with Barry and Nick Smith, who both voted No.
The committee received a record 35,000 written submissions on the bill. It has split into teams of two to tour the country to hear the 3500 submitters who asked to appear before the committee in person to make their arguments.
Barry is the committee’s deputy chair and Dr Havill said he had spoken to many New Zealanders who could not understand why she “should show her bias so publicly, and indeed, spend much of her time campaigning at public meetings against medical aid in dying.
“This seems to the average member of the public as totally unfair, especially as she has also been disparaging to submitters while giving their oral submission.
“I do not maintain that she should not have opinions against the Bill, but the public expects her to act impartially in her role as Deputy Chair, and to consider evidence which supports medical aid in dying (MAID) in a reasonable manner. She has been bringing the process into disrepute.
“Our opinion is that she should resign from the position as Deputy Chair because she is heavily compromised.”
Dr Havill said later that he had also written to the Minister of Justice Andrew Little and the leader of the National Party Simon Bridges to complain about Barry’s behaviour in the committee hearings.
He quoted one submitter as saying the MP had got up during her five-minute presentation to make herself a drink and was ”quite demeaning” with her questioning.
by Graham Adams / 06 August, 2018
Simon Bridges has made himself look more dynamic than Labour on the issues of assisted dying and recreational marijuana.
During a meeting in Wellington in May as part of his whistle-stop tour of the country, Simon Bridges said he intended to “modernise” the National Party. He reassured his audience that “We’re not going to suddenly not be the National Party” but added: “We do have to have the capacity every now and again to surprise.”
And he certainly has. First, he backed an alternative medicinal cannabis bill put into the members’ ballot by Dr Shane Reti and followed that manoeuvre by announcing a National-led government under his leadership would legalise recreational marijuana and assisted dying if referendums showed that’s what the public wanted.
By Anna Kelsey-Sugg for Saturday Extra
Intensive care specialist Ken Hillman believes it's become too hard to die.
When his grandfather died in 1959, it was in his own room at home, with little medical intervention.
"Most people's grandfathers died at home in those days, because the general practitioner was the last medical representative in that line. If he said 'there's nothing more to offer', then there was nothing more to offer," Professor Hillman says.
9 May, 2018
Source: NZ Herald
Simon O'Connor is espousing the National Party's newfound concern for the elderly and sick.
By: Jay Kuten
I've not been a fan of the Act Party. As the farther right wing of National — remember the teapot alliance of John Banks and John Key, merging class bias and dog-whistle racism — they've represented throwbacks to a faux nostalgic past. That's where everyone knew their place, especially women and darker people. Oliver Twist territory.
Then along came David Seymour. The Act leader's dance steps may not be sure-footed, but his End of Life Choice bill covers most of the floor of what's necessary to give the terminally ill the autonomy and dignity they deserve at the end of a life.
There is a significant minority vigorously opposed to people having the choice to decide how their lives should end. National MP Simon O'Connor (Chronicle, May 7) is one of those voicing opposition. That is his right. What is not right is his wish to continue the present system, which permits a doctor but not a patient to make that decision. What is not right is the misrepresentation of Seymour's bill to create a fearmongering atmosphere that creates the false impression that the bill, if enacted, would result in involuntary or coerced euthanasia.
Mr O'Connor, a former priest, is aligned with a group of right-wing Catholics, including Maggie Barry and Ken Orr of Right To Life, who seek to impose their religious views on others. For clarity, let me state my support for freedom of religion and freedom of speech. That does not give anyone the right to impose their religious views on others or to use their speech to silence others or bully and frighten them into submission.
O'Connor, who accuses Seymour of hypocrisy, among other sins, needs to first take the mote out of his own eye. A major plank in the opposition platform is that the elderly are subject to "abuse, bullying and exploitation". He goes further to voice anguished concerns about rampant elder abuse, and the marginalised plight of the "seniors, sick, and disabled". These trenchant sympathies are meant to lead to the conclusion that people in these groups, elderly sick, disabled, could easily be coerced into asking for assisted suicide.
Maggie Barry, when I interviewed her, used almost the same groupings — elderly, sick and disabled — whose cause she purported to represent.
What puts the lie to these fine expressions of concern for the elderly, the sick and the disabled, is that these same National Party parliamentarians did little or nothing in their nine years of power to alleviate the burdens of the elderly, the sick, and the disabled.
When it comes to marginalised communities, especially those of the poor and of people of colour, the last National government can justifiably be called the do-nothing parliament in which essential services for the sick, the mentally unwell, the elderly were sacrificed in favour of a bottom line — Middlemore Hospital, for one example. It was a good time for the well-off. Those nine years saw 60 per cent of our national wealth go to the top 10 per cent of us. The poor, the elderly, the sick and the mentally ill, not so much.
The platform of the anti-choice, largely right-wing Catholic group, is hollow with claims of elderly coercion. Research, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the laws in Canada and Oregon, on which ours is modelled, has found such claims are overblown.
I'm going to pull rank here. The task of a forensic psychiatrist in legal forums is to determine competency. The End of Life Choice Bill specifies the terms for what is needed to establish competency. The terms are stringent. They include a determination by the doctors of such matters of social and family circumstance to ensure free, voluntary choice. The terms of competency in the bill are more particular than requirements to be able to marry. Judging from the actions and the writings of those opposed to terminally ill people having choice in their own death, it's a more stringent requirement of competency than that required to serve in Parliament.
Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.
Article by Ann David - 18 July 2018
The Justice select committee has its work cut out to sift through some 30,000 submissions on the End of Life Choice bill prior to the late September deadline. And Chair Raymond Huo will need all his leadership skills to arm wrestle the wily Hon Maggie Barry into a semblance of objectivity, since she managed to get herself appointed as his Deputy.
From an outsider’s perspective, the composition appears balanced: he voted Yes at the first reading and she voted No. But he is a rank amateur at the game of emotive vocabulary and scaremongering whereas she is a seasoned campaigner, fluent in all the coercion/abuse/slippery slope arguments, the darling of palliative care whose smiling mascot she is in Parliament.
She will make much of the fact that 80% of submissions oppose assisted dying. She should know – she would have provoked hundreds of them herself when she “consulted with” her constituents in various church porches, straight after Mass.
She will quote the palliative care submission warning that subtle coercion will lurk ever-present at the bedside, prompting marginalised patients to do the decent thing and sign up for “killing”. To her relief, the select committee will not be visiting overseas jurisdictions where assisted dying is practiced, so will not be able to personally question and scrutinise statistics for themselves that deny this. Consequently, it will remain a fear that will prey on the consciences of some MPs.
To show her sincerity and now that she is no longer a Minister, Barry will remind the committee that she has lodged her own member’s bill in the ballot: the Access to Palliative Care bill. If drawn and successful, it will require massive amounts of additional funding for palliative care, so it’s a good thing she didn’t think of it while she and National were in government.
Having her own bill in the ballot will also enable Barry to counter any submissions describing appalling deaths inside the walls of palliative care itself as simply the result of insufficient resourcing to date. All to be fixed by her bill so that it never, ever happens again.
Meantime, Act Leader David Seymour is travelling around the country holding townhall meetings to promote his End of Life Choice bill. His next stop is Whanganui where he will present in the august company of Barry herself. She will counter his presentation with her own on palliative care as the only way to go (pun intended).
Trumpeting her forthcoming Whanganui visit is MP for Tamaki, Simon O’Connor, the seminarian-turned-politician who chaired the Health select committee hearing submissions on New Zealanders’ attitudes to the need for assisted dying. Unsurprisingly, that committee’s report was just a taxpayer-bleeding summary of all the facts we already knew –arguments in favour, arguments against, no recommendations.
O’Connor popped an opinion piece into the Wanganui Chronicle demanding that “Seymour must be convinced that no one will ever be coerced into dying for the convenience or financial gain of another.”
We must hope then that O’Connor will never have to make any law that is less than 100% fool-proof. The fact that the End of Life Choice bill includes several safeguards that are over and above what is required for a patient to request terminal sedation or to have life support switched off is just not good enough, in his view. He prefers a different kind of coercion: the coercion of patients into prolonged suffering against their will by withholding the means of a peaceful death from them.
Columnist Jay Kuten hit back at O’Connor the following day with his own opinion piece: Sham concern for the elderly. Witty and provocative, the retired forensic psychologist pulled professional rank and quipped that the End of Life Choice bill defines what it takes to determine mental competency more stringently than the definition of mental competency required to serve in Parliament!
This is taking place against a backdrop of recent citizens’ initiatives to assert autonomy over their own death. West Australian Prof David Goodall ended his life peacefully at an assisted dying clinic in Switzerland aged 104. Also across the Tasman, 36-year old Scott Riddle describes his anger that the NSW Parliament failed to pass assisted dying laws by just one vote last year. He has recently been diagnosed with stage four cancer and wants the option to die on his own terms. He is educated, business-savvy, vocal and has recently begun to campaign alongside Dying with Dignity.
We can expect the arguments for and against assisted dying to scorch the pages of newspapers and fry the airwaves over the coming months, increasing in shrillness right up to the second reading. The media will be the battleground for public opinion and public opinion might just shame the politicians into the democratic choice: Yes.
If you enjoy writing, please write to your local newspaper. The pen is mightier than the sword (Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839).
Ann David is a retired human resources professional living in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast. She has been a campaigner for the right to die with dignity for the past 15 years, initially in Australia and since 2009, in New Zealand. She is a member of the End of Life Choice Society and of the NZARH.
© End-Of-Life Choice • PO Box 48 241, Silverstream, Upper Hutt 5142 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org