The euthanasia debate

Written By: - Date published: 3:15 pm, July 21st, 2010 - 20 comments
Categories: death with dignity, Social issues - Tags: ,

I dread debates on topics such as abortion and euthanasia. They tend to come down to deeply held personal beliefs that can never be changed. None the less, Doctor John Pollock has very publicly raised the topic of euthanasia, and I think that it’s an issue that we do need to move forward on as a country, so here we go. The Herald reports:

Dying GP’s plea for euthanasia

A terminally-ill Auckland doctor writes to New Zealand Doctor magazine arguing for the legalisation of euthanasia in New Zealand.

Over the years our vet has put down several of our ailing, elderly pets, the latest a week ago. A contented, serene animal, surrounded by the people who have loved it for years, passed from life to death in a peaceful, painless minute. I have metastatic melanoma – how I wish that service was available to me.

If I was a citizen of Holland or Belgium or a couple of American states it would be. In NZ a doctor who performed such a merciful service would risk prison. The law insists we must provide only ameliorative help while patients may reach the most appallingly wretched states, sometimes akin to those who died of starvation in Nazi concentration camps. Ironically if we allowed a cat or a dog or a horse to reach such a condition we would be breaking the law and risking a prison sentence. …

My cancer may kill me in a variety of ways, some very unpleasant and drawn-out. There are several scenarios which I would find intolerable and should be able to opt out of but for our old-fashioned, ill-thought-out, cruel laws which force me to suffer to the end or kill myself.

There is no doubt voluntary euthanasia will come to NZ but it needs some determined lobbying for it to be sooner rather than later. I know of no recent NZ surveys but a couple done in Britain and USA suggest about 75 per cent of the population would approve.

There are a number of prevalent arguments against it – none, in my view, reason to withhold what should, and will be, a basic human right …

If you agree I would urge you to write to your local MP and to the NZMA. Both will need a lot of pushing to act.

John Pollock MB,
ChB, MRCP[UK],
FRNZCGP

Thank you Doctor Pollock for this courageous and well considered contribution to the euthanasia debate. The full letter is long, and thoughtful, and it deals with the arguments against euthanasia – you should go read the whole thing at The Herald or at New Zealand Doctor linked above. See also the NZ Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

Like many readers here, perhaps, I have personal experiences and risk factors which shape my opinions on euthanasia, but even without those I think that the objective and rational position is clear. I think that as a country our current legal position on euthanasia is wrong. Let’s move the debate forward, and let’s give we the people back the right to make the ultimate personal decision for ourselves.

20 comments on “The euthanasia debate”

  1. wyndham 1

    The link to N. Z. Doctor produces a MALWARE warning on my P.C. Have the anti-euthanasia brigade been at work ?

    Should you pass this on ?

    • r0b 1.1

      You’d be in the best position to do that wyndham, you could send details of your anti-virus product and the exact message it produces.

      • wyndham 1.1.1

        Sorry, I’m not that well up in all this hi-tech stuff but the message I get from Avira Antivirus Personal is:

        Contains suspicious code HEUR / HTML Malware

        and, yes I’m still getting it along with the warning bells. !

        Hope this helps.

    • BLiP 1.2

      I’m running a paid-for and recently updated AVG – no alarm bells for me.

  2. kriswgtn 2

    Having watched my mom die of cancer in 2006 and suffer in her last months in a horrible way,she just wanted to go and I agree with her

    The hospice did their best re pain relief but still

    Noone should have to watch a loved one go through what my family witnessed and its time to grow up re this issue and let people have the choice.

  3. prism 3

    There are people actively thinking about their time of dying in New Zealand right now. There are groups – I think the Euthanasia Society, then is it Death with Dignity and Exit International.

    There has already been a bill before parliament but we see time and time again the weak nature of the parliamentary process when the pollies have to think and especially if it is a conscience vote. That is likely to mean that they will vote for their personal prejudices. I don’t know when they will be ready to take such adult, responsible decisions. Last time one MP made a personal plea with real personal experience prompting him, but emotion and conservatism won and he lost.

    Bumbling through is the best we can hope for. The recent post about abortion criticises the way we pass patchy legislation for important personal matters. We have to keep trying on it all and on abortion that chap Steve Chadwick is giving it a go.

    • BLiP 3.1

      that chap Steve Chadwick is giving it a go.

      Here you go , she’s only be in Parliament for more than 10 years, including time as Minister of Conservation and Minister of Womans Affairs. Still, I guess if those things don’t really matter, why learn basic facts about the person in charge.

      I do hope you weren’t trying to be funny. My sense of humour in regard to the sexuality of Labour Party members dried up thanks to the Right a few years ago.

      • prism 3.1.1

        blip – These girls that like to hide their female lights under bushels of boy’s names bring about confusion.

  4. Sylvia 4

    With all due respect to Dr Pollock, if he does not want to continue to live I would have thought he would have the ability to end his own life and not need assistance. Its not clear to me why he needs to have someone else cause or hasten his death.

    • r0b 4.1

      It’s not always possible to predict in advance when you’re going to lose that ability. Why should someone not be able to request help with ending their life?

  5. Yes – we should have the right to say that we are at the end of our tether if we are suffering an intolerable and painful end and ask for help to leave this world with what is left of my dignity.

    Yes – we should be able to do this with or without help from the medical profession.

    Yes – we should be able to do this without knowing that what we are doing is illegal and someone who is left behind could be set before the courts and convicted of murder (at worst) and manslaughter (at best).

    I would hope that our politicians can stand up and be counted on this one. It is not a difficult decision, nor is it a difficult piece of legislation to make.

    I agree that we should be free to choose when the end is to be. Our illness is terminal but we should not have to suffer any longer than needs be. Euthanasia is a beautiful way to end a good life.

  6. f_t 6

    Yes someone should be able to request help with ending their life.

    But I think that we need to tread very careful with this.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1285423/Half-Belgiums-euthanasia-nurses-admit-killing-consent.html

    • Sarge 6.1

      Good article. Espically liked this quote:

      “Last night, Dr Peter Saunders, director of the Care Not Killing campaign in Britain, said: ‘We should take a warning from this that wherever you draw the line, people will go up to it and beyond it.’
      ‘Once you have legalised voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia will inevitably follow,’ he added. ”

      There’s nothing to prevent the right to die, from becoming the obligation to die. Will denying the right to a peaceful end diminish the quality of life for some people?? Yes, yes it will. However, that’s a price to pay to prevent those marginlised in our society from being expected to die when they become “too much of a burden”.

  7. Olwyn 7

    I am going to go against the tide here. We have about 18,000 abortions a year in this country, even with the constraints we already have in place, and I am game to bet that the decision behind many of them is taken reluctantly, haunted by grief, and driven by a sense of economic necessity – have another child, lose income and lose the house, or have an abortion, keep the income and keep the house, and similar scenarios. Euthanasia is yet another example of something that could quickly end up gaining traction on the hidden grounds of economic necessity. If we actually care about anyone’s freedom to choose anything, the first base is freedom from economic necessity, because without it, so-called freedoms readily become subtly enforced oppressions.

  8. NZer 8

    I would fear voluntary euthanasia in the society we live in now. I do believe it wouldn’t be long before people were expected to end their lives once they showed signs of becoming frail and a burden. I’m sure euthanasia already takes place in the shadows – let it stay there.

    I am suspicious as to why the Herald has chosen to pick this story up. Are their corporate masters getting annoyed with the cost of healthcare to the very sick and old ? After all, if you can encourage people to kill themselves then you save the state a whole lot of trouble and expense. Fewer expenses to the state= lower taxes and more money for the greedies who rule the planet.

    And as for the doctor who wrote the article- I didn’t hear anything from him on this subject during his long career as a doctor so presumably he thought the care he provided to the dying was adequate. And anyway, he and people like him have nothing to fear from the legalisation of euthanasia. They have money and influence and will get good medical care for as long as they need/want it. It is the ordinary person who lacks any sort of power I worry about.

  9. Majestic Oil 9

    ” Warning after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had been peremptorily snuffed under the new NHS Euthenasia scheme.

    The scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was reportedly designed to snuff swathes of hospitalised under the guise of reducing patient suffering in their mortal final hours, but secret documents leaked by whistleblowers at the Depatment for Ill-Health prove the overall intention was “Snuff the oldies and save a few bob so we can cut NHS staffing and afford to invade Iran.’

    You guys just don’t know or think that even you or your loved ones could be in the position where your/their life could be taken [involuntarily] when you lie in a hospital bed.There is no reason for this policy -save to justify murder.

    • Pascal's bookie 9.1

      Looks like an impeccable source.

      From their front page :

      ORLANDO, Florida (GlossyNews) — Wearied by weeks of fighting the horrendous Gulf oil spill, the U.S. Coast Guard mobilized today to battle a large leak from a giant whale in a SeaWorld theme park. “This is massive,’ said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. “An animal this size naturally produces a very big leak.’ As of this morning …

  10. Majestic Oil 10

    This X dr emotively[while manipulating fear of pain, suffering and death] asks for something from NZ to be made available -then he acknowledges it is already available and is being done in NZ.

    Why is dignity thought of as ‘not expressing or feeling suffering/pain’ ?
    Is it some sort of stupid Kiwi -Macho -Fear of looking’ non stanch’/ frightened when dying?

  11. Pascal's wager 11

    @r0b [sic]*

    You never fail to get it wrong do you!(remember the time you expressed ETS was so more than just a polluter subsidy and that you feel Carbon trading will save the World).

    What you said had nothing to do with the issue :AKA The proposal of legalizing Euthanasia in NZ to Cut Costs.
    You do not even have an understanding of the NZ medical system.
    Moral and ethical whistleblower’s in the medical system are the tradesmen taking photos of rest home abuse( employees get punished ) and yet still you think to help this problem of terminally ill and disabled patient’s rights abuse ….legalizing euthanasia is a good idea.

    *And now I understand why Kate is a Cactus.

  12. WOOF 12

    They would do it for me, they should do it for him. 🙂

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    2 weeks ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago

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