Euthanasia – good or bad?
Legalising Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide will significantly change the social, medical and legal landscape of New Zealand. As a country is that a decision we want to make? What can overseas experience tell us?
Labour MP Maryan Street’s private members bill entitled ‘End of Life Choice Bill’ which proposed the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide has been withdrawn from the ballot due to pressure from the Labour Party. Party leaders did not want Euthanasia to be a issue in this year’s General Election. Ms Street has vowed to bring back the Bill after the Election.
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Because there is so much confusion surrounding the term, we need to make sure we understand what euthanasia is not.
- It is not euthanasia to administer medication needed to control pain—that’s called good medical care.
- It is not euthanasia to stop treatment that is gravely burdensome to a patient—that’s called letting the patient exercise the moral option to refuse extraordinary medical means.
- It is not euthanasia to stop tube-feeding a patient whose diseased or injured body can no longer assimilate food and water—that’s called simply accepting death.
Assisted suicide is when someone e.g. a doctor, friend, relative etc. counsels, encourages , or aids someone to kill themselves. Like euthanasia it is a criminal act. Is it truly compassionate to help someone kill themselves?
In June 2012, it was also reported that in the UK, every year 130,000 elderly patients that die while under the care of the National Health Service (NHS) have been effectively euthanized by being put on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), a protocol for care of the terminally ill that was described as a “death pathway.”
Dr Peter Saunders, a Kiwi living in the UK, has this to say:
“It is certainly true that 130,000 British patients per year are dying whilst on the LCP. But it does not therefore follow from this that the LCP is the cause of their deaths.
If a patient is judged to be imminently dying and is placed on the LCP and dies within hours or days one can be virtually certain that the death was caused by the underlying condition.”