Media Release

Euthanasia-Free NZ welcomes the decision of the New South Wales (NSW) Upper House to reject ‘assisted dying’ legislation and urges the New Zealand Parliament to follow suit.

The New South Wales Bill proposed legal assisted suicide and euthanasia for terminally ill NSW residents of 25 years and older.

Former Deputy PM of NSW, John Anderson, wrote in response to this Bill,

“Of course we sympathise as none of us want to see people suffering or in pain.

“But however well intentioned, compassionate actions should first have us addressing the causes of that suffering, and legalising government-sponsored suicide will not do this.”

“Assisted dying legislation is an inappropriate response to the grief process experienced by terminally ill people”, says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

“The desire to die is not dependent on particular physical diagnoses or symptoms. People who desire assisted dying do so mainly for emotional, social and existential reasons on top of their physical condition.”

The New Zealand Herald recently published palliative care specialist Gary Rodin as saying that the news that one is dying “inevitably provokes an ‘existential crisis’ for the person in which they feel depression, despair or anger, or all three. This stage doesn’t tend to last and most patients tend to go back and forth between crisis and acceptance. According to Virginia Lee, a nurse who works with cancer patients, if people can come to a state of acceptance, they are usually more compassionate and appreciative of what life they have left.”

Australian doctor and author Dr Karen Hitchcock wrote,

“Over the 12 years that I have worked as a doctor in large public hospitals, I have cared for hundreds of dying patients. No one has ever died screaming or begging for me to kill them. Patients have told me they want to die. My response to this is “Tell me why.” It is rarely because of pain, but it is often because of despair, loneliness, grief, the feeling of worthlessness, meaninglessness or being a burden. I have never seen a dying patient whose physical suffering was untreatable.”

“State-facilitated death is an inappropriate response to feelings such as despair, loneliness, worthlessness and meaninglessness – feelings that are also frequently associated with a desire to die by suicide,” says Ms Joubert.

“Instead of making death more accessible, let’s address the underlying drivers of the desire for suicide or assisted dying, such as issues related to the grief process, resilience and mental health.

“The government’s plans to hold a mental health inquiry and increase funding for mental health services are steps in the right direction. However, there is still much to be done, by government-funded agencies and communities, to meet the emotional needs of people with terminal or irremediable conditions.”

ENDS

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