death with dignity

Before you kill yourself, consider there is dignity in suffering

Lecretia would agree with John Roughan, who said last weekend, “there is in fact dignity in living with pain and incapacity and we should not take it away”. But she distinguished between living and dying, and she would have also said that the dignity of dying with pain and incapacity is subjective. She would never presume to question those who value redemptive suffering until death, but she, like many others, did not.

In December, Roughan accused me of being dishonest about my wife’s death because I hadn’t immediately shared the depth of her suffering in a tribute I wrote shortly after she died, ignoring the possibility that perhaps, as a grieving husband who had just lost his wife, I wasn’t willing to share those details publicly and have the media argue whether she’d suffered enough.

He also suggested that Lecretia could have been palliatively sedated, despite Lecretia being quite clear in her affidavits that that was not what she wanted. Perhaps Roughan could accept that all I want for my wife was what she wanted for herself and others: to have her autonomy respected and to not to be judged by others for it.

Both Roughan and Jansen argue against legalising assisted dying because of the risk of a “slippery slope”, claiming that if moderate legislative change is made then more extreme change will surely follow. It is demonstrably fallacious. When same sex marriage was proposed, opponents protested that it would lead to legalisation of group marriage, bestiality and worse. None of those things have eventuated.

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Some people want to die. Other people feel they have the right to stop them

There have been 22,000 submissions on a petition to legalise euthanasia in New Zealand – a debate that is on track to break Parliamentary records.

The petition, from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, was presented to Parliament a year ago.

Parliament’s health committee is considering the petition, and is working through about 22,000 submissions.

The petition’s sponsor, former Labour MP Maryan Street, said the “flood” of submissions was at a level last seen during debate on the marriage equality bill.

There were 21,500 submissions on the marriage equality legislation in 2012.

“It is an overwhelming response and demonstrates the strong public desire for MPs to tackle the subject,” said Ms Street, who will today be confirmed as the new president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society at its annual meeting in Wellington.

“The committee has undertaken to travel out of Wellington to hear submitters and that process is likely to begin in August.”

That’s over 22,000 submissions, not 22,000 signatures.? That’s 22,000 people who sat down and committed their thoughts to paper and sent it into Parliament.? Read more »

More support for Assisted Dying than a flag change

If the sustained applause assisted-dying advocate Matt Vickers received after his talk at the National Rural Health Conference in Dunedin was anything to go by, his message to health professionals hit the spot on Saturday.

Mr Vickers is the widower of Lecretia Seales, a Wellington lawyer who challenged the Crown in the High Court on her right to choose how she died.

Ms Seales was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011, and despite treatment died last year.

Earlier in the year, she put a case to the High Court to challenge New Zealand law for her right to die with the assistance of her doctor, asking for a declaration the doctor would not risk conviction.

Her call was declined.

Mr Vickers told the conference his wife spent the last days of her life seeking control over the last stage of her life.

He had been wanting to “speak to New Zealand doctors and nurses for some time”.

He believed anyone facing “intolerable suffering” should have the option of assisted dying. Read more »

Reminder: Death with Dignity/Assisted suicide – submissions end this week


A few days ago I ran an article about this. ?I asked you if you felt strongly about the issue. ? ? Read more »

Deciding when you’ll die – do you feel strongly about that?

If so, time to make a submission to parliament is running out fast.

New Zealanders have a week left to let Parliament know their views on the deeply polarising issue of voluntary euthanasia.

Lecretia Seales’ legal challenge has led to some politicians pushing for a new law to allow doctors to help end the life of certain patients, and Parliament’s health committee has launched an inquiry and called for public feedback.

Advocates such as Act Party leader David Seymour say the tide of history is on their side, likening voluntary euthanasia to past policy battles on access to contraception, no-fault divorce, and homosexual law reform.

Opponents, including an alliance of the Salvation Army and the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, are rallying to put down another effort to implement a change they see as unethical and fraught with problems including reliable consent.

It continues to be a topic where killing a suffering animal is humane and letting a human suffer to a natural end is considered the right thing to do. ? Where is the consistency? Read more »

New Zealand’s Death with Dignity debate gets nasty

Matt Vickers / via Stuff

Matt Vickers / via Stuff

You might not be on the side of the Right to Die debate, but the last person you want to attack is Lecretia Seales’ husband.

The widower of Lecretia Seales says an attack on his possible attendance at a euthanasia conference has lowered the quality of public debate.

Matt Vickers is considering whether to accept an invitation to speak at the Euthanasia 2016 conference in Amsterdam in May.

His possible attendance has been slammed by the Care Alliance, which issued a press release asking if he would now lobby for suicide pills for all over 70s.

Matthew Jansen, secretary of the group, which formed in 2012 and includes Family First NZ, Hospice New Zealand and the Salvation Army, said Mr Vickers’ attendance showed “what a slippery slope the so-called right to die really is”.

You choose your battles, don’t you? ?And slicing the throat of a grieving husband looking for meaning for his wife’s life isn’t the way to do it. ? Read more »

New Zealand is dragging the chain on euthanasia

The lack of courage of NZ politicians is showing, especially David Cunliffe who spiked Maryan Street’s bill, Maryan Street for not standing up to him and Iain Lees-Galloway and Andrew Little for not wanting to push it through.

Add to that the cowardice of John Key who would rather push to change the flag rather than something that will help many.

California has become the fifth US state to allow terminally ill patients to seek a doctor’s help to end their lives after the governor signed a controversial bill.

Governor Jerry Brown, in a statement on Monday (local time), said he consulted members of the Catholic Church, which is opposed to the measure, as well as physicians before making the decision.

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” said the 77-year-old governor, who as a young man studied to enter the priesthood.

“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” Brown said. ? Read more »

Key signals Assisted Suicide likely to end up before parliament again

Lecretia-Seales-Image-4The Prime Minister says he would probably support a euthanasia law change of the type Lecretia Seales wanted.

Ms Seales died on Friday morning, shortly after learning that a judge ruled her doctor could not help her end her life without risk of prosecution.

Her campaign and trial re-ignited calls for a national debate on the right to die for terminally-ill people.

John Key said this morning MPs would have to treat any proposed euthanasia law as “a conscience issue” but it was inevitable the topic would re-emerge in Parliament.

“I personally would probably support legislation aimed in the way Lecretia wanted it,”?…

He said everyone had a “slightly different view” on the possible wording or interpretation of euthanasia laws but he expected several MPs to propose bills and he did not believe the Government needed to put the topic on its agenda. Read more »

Justice Collins knows his role in the system

Lecretia Seales’ husband has challenged John Key and other MPs to open the debate on assisted suicide as the court rules the decision to legalise it should be left to Parliament.

A decision released by the High Court this afternoon says it is not in the court’s jurisdiction to rule on the matter.

Wellington lawyer Ms Seales, 42, fought for the right to allow her GP to help her die without fear of being prosecuted, should her inoperable brain tumour get worse.

The decision follows a New Zealand-first three-day civil hearing into the issue before Justice David Collins last week. ??…

Her husband Matt Vickers said his wife was “unconscious and unresponsive” when the judgement came through.

In it, Justice Collins says “only Parliament can change the law to reflect Ms Seales’ wishes and that the Courts cannot trespass on the role of Parliament”.

“The complex legal, philosophical, moral and clinical issues raised by Ms Seales’ proceedings can only be addressed by Parliament passing legislation to amend the effect of the Crimes Act.”

Justice Collins acknowledged Ms Seales’ passing, and passed on his condolences to her family.

I always felt this particular path was one of desperation and likely to fail. ?And they probably knew that from the outset. ? But they wanted to give it a try, and the result would probably just be a public debate, and perhaps some political pressure for the issue to be introduced to parliament. ? Read more »

Will we get Right to Die via the courts instead of parliament?


In a New Zealand first, the fight to allow a Wellington lawyer to die on her terms has taken its first step in court today.

Lucretia Seales [SIC] has terminal brain cancer and the 42-year-old wants her GP to administer a lethal dose of drugs to allow her to die if she chooses.

She’s taken her fight to the High Court, where today her lawyers fought to not allow outside organisations who have taken an interest?to?get involved in the case.

Ms Seales says she doesn’t want to die, but terminal brain cancer gives her no choice.?? Read more »