Monday, 19 February 2018

Supporting voluntary euthanasia


Have you written your submission yet supporting David Seymour's bill, which supports your right to voluntary euthanasia -- his End of Life Choice Bill?

Submissions close on March 6, so get going. (No excuses! It's not hard to write one.)

Here, as today's guest post, is Mark Hubbard's:

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Submission: End of Life Choice Bill.

Submitter: Mark Hubbard.                

This submission asks for the End of Life Choice Bill to be passed into legislation, despite being unable to figure out why I have to ask – or plead a case - for such a basic right over my own body. The ability to die with dignity is a choice I want. As importantly, it is a choice that is my right, and should not be up to a conscience vote of 144 members of parliament who are as far from the concerns of my life, or representing them, as could be.

I would have written a long submission listing cases of those I know who have died in situations they did not want, some of them dreadful, for whom palliative care, and opiate painkillers (i.e,, morphine; used in the absence of legal medical cannabis) simply were not an adequate solution, and never would have been: the last such case being a man who died of throat cancer over six years and who, finally, in desperation, starved himself to death. But I’m keeping this submission short for two reasons:

1.     I have run out of time with work commitments through to the end of March.

2.     I have little faith, anymore, in Parliamentary process or governance to implement or uphold  rights-based law, given the way seminary-trained MP Simon O’Connor previously, and so cynically, sabotaged his own select committee on the petition in support of Maryan Street’s excellent euthanasia bill by exhorting in Catholic publications for parishioners to submit against, hence all the one-sentence submissions from the churches that distorted the for and against percentages to that committee away from the 70% to 80% of Kiwis who want this option (according to scientific polling over a long period of time). I wasted a week of my Christmas holiday making a submission to that previous select committee which was a sham, its only purpose to ensure the debate never made it into Parliament. (O’Connor is not fit to be serving in Parliament in any capacity in my opinion.) But, anyway, here we go again, with Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill not allowed to be debated to even first reading, and we plebs not given the opportunity of submission on that, and now forlornly trying to get David Seymour’s dying with dignity bill into law. I suspect this submission is similarly as pointless as to O’Connor’s farce, because we don’t have representation where it matters in New Zealand, but I will ensure there are two ticks in favour of this bill, regardless.

I only need say the following:

Please include this submission as a request for this Bill to be made law so we, my wife and I, have the choice to die with dignity. Note that myself, or my wife, having this choice in no way affects the choices of anyone else, whether with religious belief or not, to make their own choice in the matter. As my choice does not affect the choices of those who are against voluntary euthanasia, I do not understand why the Bill's opponents get to effectively bully my choices via the State : the State’s role, surely, is to protect the rights and choices we all have and make.

I write this submission as very well read on this topic, noting how well euthanasia works in those jurisdictions in which it is legal, with safeguards working to such a comprehensive extent that there is no court case on abuse of euthanasia in any of those jurisdictions. I am disheartened however to constantly see in our local debate that the against-camp here states that legalising voluntary euthanasia will lead to some sort of genocide of the elderly and disabled: it has not anywhere else, it will not here, especially in the limited circumstances provided for in this bill: this tactic is scare-mongering and, frankly, is as infantile as it is despicable.
 
Note I refer to this as voluntary euthanasia not assisted suicide. This latter term is used by the against-camp in their emotive – not reasoned – campaign against individuals having choice. To want to die when in pain or indignity – however an individual measures that for themselves - within the last twelve months of a terminal illness is not suicide as we understand that term: it is the choice to die with dignity. Indeed, those who foolishly conflate this issue with suicide serve only to cheapen the very important debate on suicide.
The two are not the same. 
Finally, I know (and you can read for yourself the blog of Matt Vickers's, the partner of Lecretia Seales) that there are many doctors and workers – largely silenced – who work in palliative care in New Zealand who would voluntarily offer this service. In fact we all know that there has always been a merciful but unofficial euthanasia practiced in New Zealand. Indeed, another reason for this law is to protect doctors in cases such as this (allowing open discussion with the dying, not furtive back-room conversations with family).
Unlike its overseas counterparts, the New Zealand Medical Association refuses to poll its own membership on this issue and so, despite make sweeping pronouncements against euthanasia in the media (and no doubt to this committee), does not speak for all doctors and medical staff. I have been in correspondence with two former chairs of the NZMA, both Christians, who were against euthanasia on religious grounds. That is not good enough. On this issue at least, they do not speak for their members.

And that is enough. Give me the choice, please. Because, in fact, none of you have the right to deny me this choice, or to deny the majority of Kiwis you are supposed to represent.

Thank you. 
Mark Hubbard.
Made a submission supporting the bill? Send it to me (at peter dot organon at gmail.com) and we will post it here at NOT PC.
And don't forget to submit -- only 15 days to go!
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5 comments:

  1. While not my style (too emotive although I'm not as emotionally engaged in this issue as he is) I respect the passion so well done. I hope Mark gets what he wishes for. I think I'd have started at Mark's point 2 and stopped at "law" in line two but that's just me despairing at the political process generally.

    3:16

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  2. > Note I refer to this as voluntary euthanasia not assisted suicide. This latter term is used by the against-camp in their emotive – not reasoned – campaign against individuals having choice.

    Characterising the other side as emotive and unreasonable is a silly debating tactic. They are not some homogeneous group. They are individuals each with their own take on the world and their individual opinions on issues. If you value the truth you need to know the best of their arguments and you also need to try to improve any weaknesses you see in their arguments. If you do not care to do this or do not want to find out, then it is you who are unreasonable. And you will not find truth.

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    1. I've been arguing this topic for years. That view re the emotive use of suicide has to be countered because you bet they will use it in submissions.

      Guarantee you're against euthanasia? Yes?

      Delete
  3. Thanks Peter and Mark. Just completed my (partially plagiarised) submission:

    I support the end of life choices bill. The key word in this bill is choice. The current law where people are denied the right to end a painful and terminal illness is an appalling state of affairs and this bill does much to rectify it while taking steps to ensure that it is actually the patient's unpressured choice. In response to some of the objections to this bill, I submit the following:


    1. The current law has the unintended consequence where terminal patients end their lives earlier than they would like because they have to be physically able to do it themselves. This bill allows those patients to extend their lives beyond that point whilst still giving them the opportunity to avoid a painful death.

    2. There are many doctors and workers – largely silenced – who work in palliative care in New Zealand who would voluntarily offer this service. In fact we all know that there has always been a merciful but unofficial euthanasia practiced in New Zealand. Indeed, another reason for this law is to protect doctors in cases such as this and allow open conversations between the palliative care practitioners and the patient - rather than clandestine back room deals with family members.

    3. Some of the Members of Parliament who spoke against the first reading of this bill objected on cultural/religious grounds saying that the act of dying made the surviving family stronger - essentially saying that suffering is a virtue. I vehemently disagree. To argue that someone should suffer horrendous pain just so a whanau can go through a bonding experience shows complete moral corruption. Those Members (and this includes the immediate past Prime Minister) whose religious or cultural beliefs have blinded them so much that they would make such an argument should abstain from voting on this bill.

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    Replies
    1. Brilliant. Thanks Craig. Your last paragraph is a blinder.

      Delete

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