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End-of-Life Choice - VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA SOCIETY OF NEW ZEALAND INC

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  • 11 Sep 2015 5:40 PM | Philip Patston (Administrator)

    Advice for submitters – August 2015

    1.       Anybody can make a submission on our petition. It can be as short or as long as you like. You can email it to Parliament or send it by post. It is most effective when told in your own words, so this guide will not give you formulaic statements to repeat. It will however help you to say what you want to say and tell you how to submit your submission.

    2.       Remember that the words of the petition were: 
    “That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.” 
    3.       Here are the instructions from the Clerk of the Health Select Committee: 
    The petition asks for a change to existing law. Therefore the committee will undertake an investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand. In order to fully understand public attitudes the committee will consider all the various aspects of the issue, including the social, legal, medical, cultural, financial, ethical, and philosophical implications.
     
    The Committee will investigate: 1. The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life. 2. The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives. 3. The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one's life and the current legal situation. 4. International experiences.
     
    The committee will seek to hear from all interested groups and individuals.
     
    The committee requires 2 copies of each submission if made in writing. Those wishing to include any information of a private or personal nature in a submission should first discuss this with the clerk of the committee, as submissions are usually released to the public by the committee. Those wishing to appear before the committee to speak to their submissions should state this clearly and provide a daytime telephone contact number. To assist with administration please supply your postcode and an email address if you have one.
    4.       Be clear about the point you want to make. Pin your points to one or more of the terms of reference numbered 1-4, referred to in the paragraphs above. You don’t have to answer every possible question or state every possible argument. The fact that you have chosen to put in a submission is demonstration enough of your concern about this issue. Lots of other people will be doing the same and will cover the ground you choose not to address.
     
    5.       If you feel able to, tell a story. MPs may take issue with your arguments, but they cannot deny your life experience. Numbers of submissions are going to be important as well as the quality of them. You might say something like:
    “I believe people have a right to determine how and when they die under certain circumstances and with appropriate safeguards. I have come to this conviction through watching my mother die badly……..”  (or whatever your own story is).
    Or you might simply say: 
    “I wish to register my strong support for assisted dying for people who are terminally ill or whose irreversible condition makes their life unbearable.” And leave it at that. 
    6.       You do not have to appear before the select committee. MPs will receive your submission anyway. You need to say clearly in your submission that you wish to appear before the committee to speak to it, if you do. You should provide a name, daytime phone number and email address so the clerk can contact you. If you do wish to appear and speak to the committee in person, you can do so by turning up at a time arranged with the clerk of the committee, or by telephone or audio-visual link. If there are a lot of submitters who wish to present to the committee, they may select some whom they consider to be representative of the respective arguments.
     
    7.       The closing date for submissions is: MONDAY 1 FEBRUARY 2016.
     
    8.       Submissions should be made either online using the Parliamentary website (www.parliament.nz) or in writing to this address:
     
    Health Committee, Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6160.
     
    The clerk of the committee is Charlotte Yeabsley (charlotte.yeabsley@parliament.govt.nz) and she can be contacted on (04) 817 9520 or (04) 817 9541.
     
    9.       Here are some helpful Parliamentary websites to guide your submission writing:                      

    https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/

    https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/

    Good luck!

    Maryan Street

    VES Honorary member

     

    Appendix

    Below is the last page of Parliament’s booklet “Making a Submission to a Parliamentary select committee”. It provides a format to follow.

    Appendix: Suggested submission format

    Covering letter

    Date                                                                                                                                                      Page number

    Submission on the XXX Bill/Inquiry

    To the (name of Committee) Committee

    Personal details

    This submission is from (name of individual/organisation and address).

    I/we wish to appear before the committee to speak to my/our submission.

    I can be contacted at: (List your daytime contact telephone number and email address or the name, address, contact telephone number; and email address of the contact person for your organisation if different from above).

    I/we wish that the following also appear in support of my/our submission: (list names and positions in organisation). 

    Submission

    If an organisation, give brief details of your organisation’s aims, membership and structure and the people consulted in the preparation of the submission.

    I/we wish to make the following comments (general views).

    Specific comments (if submitting on an inquiry).

    I/we wish to raise the following matters under term of reference 1, term of reference 2, etc (expand on your views and give reasons).

    Recommendations 

    (List any further recommendations or conclusions you wish the committee to consider. You may wish to restate recommendations mentioned earlier.)



  • 01 Jun 2015 9:07 AM | Anonymous

    John Murray is a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, NZ former member of the National VES Committee. He sent this to the Kapiti Independent Newspaper.

    Right to die?

    What's the problem? We shall all die. But the real question is have we the right to die with dignity?

    As I sat in No1 Court this week and looked across to see the slumped body of Lecretia Seales, I knew again my answer.

    Here was the desperately ill figure of a vital, lively and intelligent woman in the grips of an aggressive brain tumour.  

    She was pleading to the Court for her GP to be allowed to ease her way into death when the time comes, without being charged with the crime of assisting suicide.

    In the great passing out parade, when our time comes, who would not ask, whatever their faith, in the words of the compassionate Saint Francis:

    "And thou most kind and gentle death
    waiting to hush our latest breath..."

    So I sat there and listened to the lawyers dividing the law with the greatest of competence and the least of human kindness.

    The Counsel for the Crown declared that the law is the law. This is a matter for Parliament not the Court. And the learned professor supporting him, quoted at length the law in the State of Montana and said "having liberty did not include the right to die"   ....... whatever that meant?

    Counsel for the Care Alliance - basically a religious group - opposed any change in the law and raised "fears" of what might happen – "all people would be at risk ... the right for euthanasia would might lead to a "slippery slope" leading to euthanasia on demand". Was there an echo here of the Nazi death camps? The Counsel never mentioned the vital word "voluntary".

    Counsel for Lecretia said, among other things, that "a total ban is asked for ... it is the individual that matters ... the only way to test the law is for GP to do it and be prosecuted."

    Counsel for the Human Rights Commission, quoting the Bill of Rights said "the Bill champions human dignity and value," and its section 6 is to be preferred over the law.

    The Judge sat quietly pondering what is the real question and what should be his judgment - which he will give as soon as possible for the sake of the plaintive.
    To me as I listened there seemed a dreadful irony in the proceedings. Here in No1 Court, a place for criminals to be tried  and punished, sat an innocent woman being tried for asking that the law be changed to respect her right to die with dignity. Is that a crime?

    Or will the Judge rule that "the Crimes Act is inconsistent with her [human] rights"?
    This would test the preference of the Bill of Rights [1990]] to set aside the law and allow Lecretia Seales the right to die - with dignity.

    Is it left to Parliament then to change the law? I believe that is so but the leaders of all Parties refuse to face the question or even set up a Select Committee to start the debate.

    There is so much involved in this issue - fear of death, fear of losing control over "morality", fear of the "slippery slope", what is human dignity, on what grounds must laws be changed.

    All this needs a deeper conversation, such as this "paper" KIN could promote, on how "to die with dignity"

    Counsel for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, aka End of Life Choice, simply said the purpose of the case was to relieve Lecretia's suffering and that of others.

  • 15 Apr 2015 10:43 AM | Anonymous

    Dr Rob Jonquière's lectures New Zealand - March/April 2015

    Here are two links to one of his presentations which we recorded.

    Dr Rob Jonquière - presentation recorded at Paraparaumu, New Zealand, 2 March 2015


    Dr Rob Jonquière Q & A Session following presentation at Paraparaumu, New Zealand, 2 March 2015

  • 07 Jan 2015 11:19 AM | Anonymous

    Debbie Purdy, the UK right-to-die campaigner who won a landmark court ruling to clarify the law on assisted suicide, has died aged 51. Here is the last article she wrote. We may not agree with or have reservation about some of her statements but they are made in the light of the law  in Britain at the time.

    Read more »

  • 17 Oct 2014 11:15 AM | Anonymous

    Doctors in Canada’s Quebec province will be able to administer a lethal drug to terminally-ill patients and others suffering “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain” by the end of next year.

    A law which significantly affirms “the right of everyone to end-of-life care that is appropriate to their needs” was passed in the provincial National Assembly by 94 votes to 22 in a free vote on June 5. Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said the law would come into force within 18 months, as soon as a commission on end-of-life-care was established.

    Quebec joins Oregon, Vermont and Washington as North American jurisdictions allowing medical aid in dying. The law, which draws heavily on Belgian and Dutch models, is designed “to ensure that end-of-life patients are provided care that is respectful of their dignity and their autonomy and to recognize the primacy of wishes expressed freely and clearly with respect to end-of-life care”.

    Basic requirements are that the patient:

    • be at least 18, capable of giving consent and possess a province health card as a resident of Quebec.
    • is suffering an incurable serious illness,
    • is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, and
    • suffers constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain which cannot be relieved in a manner the patient deems tolerable.

    The bill does not use the term euthanasia. Defining the act of hastening death as a medical service, and therefore a matter of provincial competence, the Quebec government seeks to avoid Canadian federal criminal law which defines all assistance in dying as culpable homicide.

    The Canadian House of Commons overwhelmingly rejected a bill legalizing physician-assisted dying in 2010. A private member’s bill on similar lines has since been introduced in the federal parliament, but reports indicated it is unlikely to be debated in the near future.

    The bill says institutions, palliative care hospices and private health facilities must offer end-of-life care and “ensure that it is provided to the persons requiring it in continuity and complementarity with any other care that is or has been provided to them”. Doctors and private health nurses may provide it at the patient’s home.
    Every palliative care hospice must inform persons of the end-of-life care it offers before admitting them.

    The Quebec bill says the provision of end-of-life care is to be guided by the following principles:

    • respect for end-of-life patients and recognition of their rights and freedoms must inspire every act performed in their regard,
    • end-of-life patients must be treated at all times with understanding, compassion, courtesy and fairness, and with respect for their dignity, autonomy, needs and safety, and
    • the healthcare team providing care to end-of-life patients must establish and maintain open and transparent communication with them.
    It establishes a regime for advance medical directives and specifies that they will be binding.

    Two doctors, including an independent one who is not treating the patient, must verify the request. A doctor unwilling to act must notify the responsible authority so that another physician can be called in to administer the fatal dose. (Ends)

  • 24 Sep 2014 10:09 AM | Anonymous

    Gillian Bennett, an 85-year-old New Zealand-born woman living in Canada and suffering dementia killed herself on August 18 after writing a suicide note that writer Gary Mason said in the Toronto Globe and Mail "should be read by everyone, especially those who remain uncomfortable talking about a person's right to die with dignity".

    Mason said the note showed abundant clarity of thought and total lack of self-pity. He went on:

    On Monday afternoon, Ms. Bennett dragged a mattress out to a favourite spot near her hilltop home on B.C.'s Bowen Island. She downed a lethal dose of barbiturates and chased it with a shot of whisky. Jonathan, her husband of 57 years, helped her lie down. Unhappy with the stool he was sitting on, he left briefly to find one more comfortable. He returned two minutes later to find his wife in a peaceful repose. She was gone.

    She was gone but not before leaving us a clear-minded explanation as to why she decided to take her own life. It can be read in its entirety at deadatnoon.com. Ms. Bennett's mind was being ravaged by the effects of dementia - a "stealthy, stubborn and oh-so reliable disease," she wrote in a note composed over the past couple of years.

    "Ever so gradually at first," she continued, "much faster now, I am turning into a vegetable."

    Ms. Bennett, 85, a brilliant psychotherapist, was aware that there would soon come a time when she was no longer competent to guide her own affairs and she wanted out before that day arrived. She was already forgetting the most basic of things: where she kept the coffee; where the backspace tab on her computer was; the name of the book she was reading. She did not relish the prospect of being committed to a medical institution when her husband was no longer able to care for her.

    "Understand that I am giving up nothing that I want by committing suicide," she said in her farewell note. "All I lose is an indefinite number of years of being a vegetable in a hospital setting, eating up the country's money but having not the faintest idea of who I am.

    "Each of us is born uniquely and dies uniquely. I think of dying as a final adventure with a predictably abrupt end. I know when it's time to leave and I do not find it scary."

    Ms. Bennett's note is written with the kind of clear-eyed pragmatism that can only be admired. Keeping her "mindless body" alive would cost Canadian taxpayers up to $75,000 a year, she estimated. And for what good reason? Nurses would find themselves perpetually changing her diapers and "reporting on the physical changes of an empty husk." It was ludicrous, wasteful and
    unfair, she thought.

    She also didn't want to become a burden to her husband and two adult children, who would not be able to communicate with her in any meaningful way.

    Jonathan Bennett was feeling "miserable" when I spoke to him this week. Not because of the decision his wife made - he supported it - only because he missed her. "It's been a long time since I had any practice living without Gillian."

    He said it was his wife's hope that her death would provoke more debate on a subject that urgently needs discussing. She imagined a day, he said, when everyone made out a living will that articulated how they wanted to die. And she hoped that the medical profession would eventually mandate the
    administration of a lethal dose to end the suffering of a terminally ill patient in accordance with the instructions made clear in that will.

    It is not for me to say whether Gillian Bennett did the right thing. She believed that it was ultimately her right to decide the terms under which she left this good earth and it is impossible to argue with that.

    The manifesto she left us should not be wasted. Rather, we should honour her life by using her thoughts and words to help further educate us on a critically important matter.

    "Today, now, I go cheerfully and so thankfully into that good night," Ms. Bennett said in her final words. "Jonathan, the courageous, the faithful, the true and the gentle, surrounds me with company. I need no more."

    Gillian Bennett's note can be read in full at:  www.deadatnoon.com

  • 15 Jan 2014 3:16 PM | Deleted user
    Host Chris Laidlaw originally interviewed Dr. Rodney Syme (author of A Good Death: An Argument for Voluntary Euthanasia), Carole Sweney, past president of EOLC, and an opponent of assisted dying in June 2013. You can click to hear the episode.

  • 14 Jul 2013 4:36 PM | Deleted user
    As early as this (Northern hemisphere) fall, Quebec could become the first province in Canada and one of the few jurisdictions in the world to permit terminally ill patients to end their suffering and their lives. Follow the link below to read more:

    Quebec introduces landmark legislation

    Date of publication: June 12, 2013
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