Dying with Dignity Lies In Love and Best Palliative Care

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MIL OSI – Source: Family First – Dying with Dignity Lies In Love and Best Palliative Care

Family First NZ says that the heartbreaking situation that Lecretia Seales faces should not be solved in the courtroom or by a change in law, but through the guarantee of the best palliative care that the country can offer her and others in a similar situation.

“Patients facing death have a fundamental human right to receive the very best palliative care, love and support that we can give to alleviate ‘intolerable suffering’ that they fear. This is real death with dignity – surrounded and supported by loved ones, rather than a right to try and preempt the ‘uncertainty’ and timing of the end. Suicide is not the answer,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“We have massive empathy for the situation she faces. But if her legal challenge was successful, it would be the thin edge of the wedge. However well-intentioned, the old adage that “Hard cases make bad law” comes into play.”

“To allow assisted suicide would place large numbers of vulnerable people at risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, sick, disabled, those experiencing chronic illness, limited access to good medical care, and those who feel themselves to be under emotional or financial pressure to request early death. Patients will come to feel euthanasia would be ‘the right thing to do’, they have ‘had a good innings’, and they do not want to be a ‘burden’,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Euthanasia will also send a dangerous message to young people about suicide and the value of life.”

“International evidence shows that deaths by assisted suicide and euthanasia have been increasing wherever the practices have been legalised, and that the door is opened to a world of abuse. There is a slippery slope, and the Belgium and Dutch experience has proven this. A recent documentary in Belgium featured a doctor killing a healthy young woman who was struggling with mental illness.”

Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, warned that “assisted suicide is not progressive, in fact, it puts many vulnerable people at risk, and we have already seen examples of that where it is legal.” Those concerned about the rights of people with disabilities are rightly worried about this.

The majority of the medical profession and national medical associations around the world have been resolutely against the introduction of voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.

Family First is calling for a palliative care regime in New Zealand that is fully funded and world class – and not a court case or legislative change to remove the protection for vulnerable people including children.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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