Thursday, 14 September 2017
At other times and in other places bills have been called, ‘dying with dignity’, ‘dignity with dying’, ‘rights of the terminally ill’, ‘end of life options’ etc., but they all really amount to much the same thing.
Why is it that we cannot simply call the ‘Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill’ the ‘Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Bill’?
It wasn’t that long ago in Australia that we did just that. Why the change? Why the euphemism?
Words do matter and the use of proper terms matters – especially when we are talking ‘life or death’ situations and such a fundamental shift in public policy.
The Draft ‘Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017’ is largely based on the Oregon USA Dignity with Dying legislation which created an assisted suicide regime.
Up until the last few years, most bills presented in Australia’s Parliaments on this issue have focussed on euthanasia and not so much on assisted suicide.
Yet with the data and anecdotes from both Holland and Belgium increasingly showing significant problems in recent years and with the more recent Canadian experiment also developing problems, it is perhaps understandable that supporters of some form of legalised early death would turn to Oregon as a model.
But is Oregon a model worth following?
Oregon’s website describes the data collection protocol for its annual reports, as follows:
“The identity of participating physicians is coded, but the identity of individual patients is not recorded in any manner. Approximately one year from the publication of the Annual Report, all source documentation is destroyed.”
Alicia Parkman, Mortality Research Analyst for the Oregon Health Authority, makes a similar representation as follows:
To ensure confidentiality, our office does not maintain source information on participants.
(See appendix at A4 in this deposition.)
The significance is that Oregon’s annual reports cannot be verified to source documentation.
Even so, research and the annual reports from Oregon do show some alarming concerns. Issues with administration, short or no pre-existing doctor/patient relationships, deaths that were far from ‘peaceful’, wrong prognoses, mental health concerns, etc. paint a very different picture.
Many of these risks cannot be adequately dealt with.
Please, don’t put the people of New South Wales at risk!
Thursday, 7 September 2017
Doctors who know what they're talking about say it's hard enough to give a prognosis of six months to live. For 12 months, it's almost impossible!
What does '12 months or less to live' really mean? How accurate is a prognosis that far out?
The draft NSW so-called 'Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017' talks about the fact that the 'patient must… be suffering from a terminal illness which, in reasonable medical judgement, is likely to result in the death of the patient within 12 months...'
If a week is a long time in politics, then can we expect prognostication as far out as 12 months to be accurate?
The answer from the research and from common sense really is, no. Not only is a prediction so far out really 'guess work,' but the diagnosis may be wrong and treatments may be successful.
The story of Jeanette Hall is cautionary — her remission has given her 17 more years of life and more to come!
And Jeanette is not the only person to have outlived her '6 months or less to live' prognosis in either Oregon or Washington state.
The further out from the expected death, the less accurate the prognosis becomes. Six months is not safe; 12 months is certainly even more unsafe!
You can learn more about the problems with prognosis by downloading our new FACT SHEET: Assisted suicide: “death expected in not longer than 12 months.”
Tuesday, 5 September 2017
As the debate in the New South Wales Parliament approaches, it is important to note how euthanasia and assisted suicide are affecting other states.
Before serious debate takes place, we have to look at all the facts available to us. Currently, the state of Victoria is providing us with real results of approaching assisted suicide and euthanasia legislation.
Polls recently released in Victorian newspapers suggest that between 66 and 86 per cent of Victorians support assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Are these polls an accurate reflection of Victorian sentiment on the issue?
Are these polls based upon people having a solid understanding of the subject?
70% becomes 51%
The Sexton Marketing Group poll from July this year in selected Victorian electorates returned a similar headline number; 70% support to be precise.
But the addition of one simple further question saw support drop to 51%. Providing information improves literacy on the subject and has been shown repeatedly to collapse support.
More information, precise language rather than euphemisms, and the explanation of alternatives to assisted suicide and/or euthanasia all change the polling outcomes.
You can’t ignore polling, but it is legitimate to question precisely what the poll really tells us.
Given the low level of public literacy on this subject across Australia, the only solid conclusion we can arrive at is to note that a significant proportion of the population is deeply concerned that people should not suffer at the end of their lives.
As we approach the introduction of a euthanasia bill in NSW, it is important to take insights from Victoria. As their polls show, euthanasia and assisted suicide are tough issues, and are on their way to becoming major voting points.
Thursday, 31 August 2017
Australia’s population is aging at a growing rate. At the same time, economic pressures and rising house prices are making it increasingly difficult for younger Australians and Australian families to get established in property.
Into that mix we find the trend of Elder Abuse; often called ‘inheritance impatience’.
Apart from the abuse itself, it is largely characterised as a hidden epidemic: hard to detect and under reported.
Whether the sense of ‘being a burden’ is internal or external to the person – or both – it remains a significant public policy challenge to eradicate elder abuse and is a very real concern in regards to consent for assisted suicide and euthanasia. There will be circumstances where subtle coercion and abuse may go undetected.
As Dutch academic, Henk Reitsema points out:
“Before it becomes a legal option, caring for someone who needs care is just the human thing that you do. But once they have the option to 'choose' to let their lives be ended, their not doing so is to choose to burden their next of kin - and that's unfair!”
Our elders deserve better!
Tuesday, 29 August 2017
HOPE wants all Members of the NSW State parliament to have the facts on assisted suicide and the impact it has on your electorates.
Meet Jeanette Hall. Jeanette has survived her cancer prognosis by 17 years and still loves life!
But if she had been referred to a different Oncologist in Oregon in 2000, it might have been different.
The Victorian Ministerial Advisory Panel’s final report cited the Hall case as proof that the law in Oregon works. Jeanette’s Oncologist, Dr Stevens responded:
Their conclusion [the MAP] is not the conclusion that Jeanette Hall or I would use. Jeanette was saved because she saw a doctor (myself) who did not believe in assisted suicide. She strongly believes that if she had been under the care of a doctor who believed in assisted suicide that she would now be dead. Instead she is alive 17 wonderful years later.
Please reach out to me with any questions about the consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide.