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Wertbag

Euthanasia close in NZ

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We seem to hit every subject of substance here, so why not discuss another huge subject in euthanasia? 

 

NZ has had two failed attempts at legalising euthanasia in the past but the new bill has passed multiple steps including a vote in Parliament which it passed 76 to 44. The bill then goes before a committee to hear submissions from the public and interest groups. 

They received over 37,000 submissions, which is one of the most heavy discussed bills in NZ history. They will announce their findings at the end of March. 

One claim I've heard was that 90% of submissions were opposed to the idea, which occurs because supporters see the bill as correct so don't see as much to comment on. 

All national polls put support for euthanasia at ~70%.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12021519

 

The bill has been written with several safe guards in place to attempt to avoid abuse of the system. Firstly you have to be at least 18, you have to be mentally capable of understanding and giving consent, you have to have two separate doctors agree and sign off, you have to have either a terminal illness or degenerative disease where the treatment options are ineffective and doctors have to volunteer to carry out the task, no one is forced to take part if they object. 

Abuse of systems overseas have happened but the bill has covered the areas where such things were done such as relatives choosing euthanasia for other family members or people with mental health issues such as depression being able to use the system. 

 

I hadn't understood the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide before, but it is simply whether the patient ends their own life (assisted suicide) or they are physically unable to so someone else does the job of ending their life (euthanasia). 

 

Arguments against the bill as it stands includes under 18 year olds who are suffering but will not have the same options, some of the wording used is subjective such as "tolerable", "advanced" and "unbearable". An incorrect diagnosis would end a non-terminal life, and there are cases where the drugs used are not effective. Of course there is also a strong religious fight against it as many believe suicide leads to hell, or that it is a slippery slope to the end of days. 

 

One study of euthanasia in Oregon found that 91% of people choosing to end their lives said the main reason was losing autonomy followed by 90% saying loss of quality of life. 

 

Where do you stand on this issue? 

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I have no problem allowing a terminally ill person, that is in constant pain, to request a medical professional to end their life and their suffering if they so choose. Putting them to sleep, with their permission, is much more humane than making them suffer needlessly.

 

The alternative is cruel and inhumane, IMO. 

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4 minutes ago, Geezer said:

I have no problem allowing a terminally ill person, that is in constant pain, to request a medical professional to end their life and their suffering if they so choose. Putting them to sleep, with their permission, is much more humane than making them suffer needlessly.

 

The alternative is cruel and inhumane, IMO. 

We do this for animals; why would we not do it for people?  

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The roadblock to this common sense issue, once again, is religion. I can hear them chanting, “ God is the only one that can end a life.” When you witness a loved one die from cancer this issue becomes very real. If that is God’s will then God is one sick puppy. No one should have to endure that kind of misery with no hope of survival. That, IMO, is the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

We do this for animals; why would we not do it for people?  

Because, the god delusion. I was once adamantly against physician assisted suicide, but that's when I was still deluded.

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On ‎2‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 11:42 PM, Wertbag said:

Where do you stand on this issue? 

 

Long over due. As long as appropriate safe guards are in place to stop the unscrupulous taking advantage, or embarking on a kind of eugenics I'm all for it. I've talked about this in the abortion thread as they are similar discussions at the opposite end of life, both dealing with ending life.

 

Agree with all the comments thus far.

 

@TheRedneckProfessor - I've often mentioned this. We would consider a human keeping a pet in long suffering until 'god takes it' to be inhumane and we have laws that will prosecute people for this. Yet when it comes to our fellow suffering humans all of a sudden we want to force them to suffer as long as possible. Go figure.

 

@Geezer Makes some good points about religion, and another objection is that it's all eugenics and will lead to people with conditions like down syndrome etc being "put down". The slippery slope fallacy I think is what we call this argument.

 

The other argument I've heard is basically a false comparison - in NZ we have high suicide rates, especially among young people. So of course we want to help these people. What people will say, particularly religious people, is that why are we trying to prevent suicide in teens, but promoting it for the old and sick. Of course this is an emotive argument that completely misses the point. A teen suicide has usually become very depressed to the point they see no point in living - this is due to a mental illness like depression. Self suicide or euthanasia is when a person is terminally ill, they are going to die, but don't wish to prolong the suffering and prefer to go with dignity at a time they choose. Much different from a teen who has lost hope. Try explaining that to some religious people though.

 

As long as it's voluntary and no undue influence on people I see no problems with it. 

 

 

@Wertbag What's your personal views?

 

 

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Although I’m generally in favor of people having this option, I do worry about it eventually becoming the norm where older people are expected to ‘do the right thing’ rather than living on as a ‘burden’ to their children.  I don’t know how to guard against this. 

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8 minutes ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

Although I’m generally in favor of people having this option, I do worry about it eventually becoming the norm where older people are expected to ‘do the right thing’ rather than living on as a ‘burden’ to their children.  I don’t know how to guard against this. 

 

This would take a major shift in the societal consciousness.. which if happened there's not much that could stop it. As it stands the current law cannot be used for this sort of thing, and in fact specifically has safeguards against it - hence all the criteria you have to 'pass' before being allowed to qualify. You can't just be some old biddy who feels the family is pressuring you to depart the scene.

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I posted this question on a Christian site and to my surprise everyone that responded supports such a law. 

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Just now, Geezer said:

I posted this question on a Christian site and to my surprise everyone that responded supports such a law. 

 

Wow - that must be one heck of a liberal Christian site! You want to read our local paper. Holy shit the conservative Christians are out in force.

 

Not a word on child abuse by clergy by the Christians though.... telling hmmm?

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6 hours ago, LogicalFallacy said:

@Wertbag What's your personal views?

I fully support it and hope NZ can pass this third attempt.  I believe it has been written to cover most of the issues such laws have had in the past (being forced on other people, being used for mental illness etc).  One terrible example was from Scandinavia (can't remember exactly which country), but the wording on their law just said "incurable illness that affects quality of life", and a teenager suffering from depression was able to argue that depression is a mental illness that is incurable, and got his right to die.  I believe the NZ bill covers that hole, but also with our system of people not suing each other over every slight, health professionals can feel confident to offer aid without worrying about litigation.

 

I would have liked to see it expanded so that younger people could make use of it too.  I understand the R18 limit, but it still feels wrong to say "this 18 year old can end his suffering, but this 17 year old, with the exact same symptoms, cannot".  If it is a terminal illness which will leave you degenerating as you die, then age shouldn't be the deciding factor.

 

I also like that the proposed law says the doctor may administer the drugs via any method (pills, injection or IV) but must stay to make sure it goes as planned, and if they change their mind the doctor is responsible for taking the drugs back.  In some countries they gave the drugs then left, leaving the wrong people to take them.

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4 hours ago, LogicalFallacy said:

 

This would take a major shift in the societal consciousness.. which if happened there's not much that could stop it. As it stands the current law cannot be used for this sort of thing, and in fact specifically has safeguards against it - hence all the criteria you have to 'pass' before being allowed to qualify.

What are the safeguards?

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35 minutes ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

What are the safeguards?

Specifically you have to be terminally ill and have two doctors confirm this. So u cannot get a family persuading an otherwise healthy old person to top themselves so they aren't a burden on the family.

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This idea always has me feeling uneasy, esp with do no good politicians, doctors and religious leaders with their poison dipped claws in everything. Ripe for abuse. 

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9 minutes ago, Aries256 said:

This idea always has me feeling uneasy, esp with do no good politicians, doctors and religious leaders with their poison dipped claws in everything. Ripe for abuse. 

Rather a sweeping generalization that, with labeling doctors, politicians and religious leaders in one fell swoop.

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On 2/4/2019 at 12:09 AM, LogicalFallacy said:

Specifically you have to be terminally ill and have two doctors confirm this. So u cannot get a family persuading an otherwise healthy old person to top themselves so they aren't a burden on the family.

 

A safeguard like that won’t stop some people from harassing their elderly relatives.  I wonder if a law would have to be passed making that kind of pressure illegal as well.  

 

For me, I think it is logical.  If someone is suffering and there is no help for it - no drugs or treatments to relieve it and no hope for a cure soon enough to save them - then they should have the right to decide how long they have to suffer.  The concern is mental illness and having suffered depression for many years (but controlled well with meds), I know there are times when the psychic pain is nearly unbearable.  It’s not a physical pain like a headache, but it is still pain.  If that pain cannot be treated by meds, then it is chronic pain like any other and needs to be treated as such.  There are mental illnesses that are so severe they are difficult to treat and the drugs used to treat them have significant side effects.  

 

So my question is, when is the mental illness a mental illness and when is it a biological illness/disease like heart disease or cancer?  After all, the brain is an organ too, and can malfunction just as any other.  You wouldn’t tell a heart patient that they just need to go to counseling to “fix” their disease.  Why do we expect people with broken brains to go to counseling to fix what is essentially a biological problem?

 

Sorry, that was longer than I intended and went off topic.  🙄

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27 minutes ago, Daffodil said:

So my question is, when is the mental illness a mental illness and when is it a biological illness/disease like heart disease or cancer?

The two things they are looking for is that the illness is terminal, in that the disease itself will result in your death and nothing can stop that. The second is degeneration, in that the illness is progressing and its growth results in your condition worsening. Mental illness doesn't tick those boxes unless it is being induced by a brain tumour. 

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11 hours ago, Daffodil said:

 

A safeguard like that won’t stop some people from harassing their elderly relatives.  I wonder if a law would have to be passed making that kind of pressure illegal as well.  

 

For me, I think it is logical.  If someone is suffering and there is no help for it - no drugs or treatments to relieve it and no hope for a cure soon enough to save them - then they should have the right to decide how long they have to suffer.  The concern is mental illness and having suffered depression for many years (but controlled well with meds), I know there are times when the psychic pain is nearly unbearable.  It’s not a physical pain like a headache, but it is still pain.  If that pain cannot be treated by meds, then it is chronic pain like any other and needs to be treated as such.  There are mental illnesses that are so severe they are difficult to treat and the drugs used to treat them have significant side effects.  

 

So my question is, when is the mental illness a mental illness and when is it a biological illness/disease like heart disease or cancer?  After all, the brain is an organ too, and can malfunction just as any other.  You wouldn’t tell a heart patient that they just need to go to counseling to “fix” their disease.  Why do we expect people with broken brains to go to counseling to fix what is essentially a biological problem?

 

Sorry, that was longer than I intended and went off topic.  🙄

The problem is that a majority of people (I think) do not understand exactly how mental illness is a biological thing (neither do all the specialists out there for that matter, I think its something we are currently learning a  lot about), and how difficult it can be to treat. A large part of it imo we can simply blame on the "you can choose to be happy" statement, which is unfounded. The other problem I think is that people tend to lump mental illness in an all or nothing box, which is simply wrong. Someone suffering from severe schizophrenia is going to be treated quite differently from someone with a mild case of depression that can be treated with meds and a combination of CBT, and the biological markers in the scenarios might be radically different.

This is interesting https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/roots

 

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11 hours ago, Daffodil said:

 

A safeguard like that won’t stop some people from harassing their elderly relatives.  I wonder if a law would have to be passed making that kind of pressure illegal as well.  

 

Sadly, the reality is that this is happening and happens everyday regardless of assisted suicide legislation. Of course the problem may indeed worsen in the case of terminally ill patients, and it isn't limited to elderly relatives - anyone with any vested interest that is a cruel enough person can harass any terminally ill person of any age. I'm not exactly sure what the safeguards are in Canada with this, but I'm wondering if there is any regulatory body to which people can address cases of abuse.

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14 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

Rather a sweeping generalization that, with labeling doctors, politicians and religious leaders in one fell swoop.

My trust in all three are near zero. 

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28 minutes ago, Aries256 said:

My trust in all three are near zero. 

I can understand the other two but doctors is a massively diverse group, made up of many dedicated, highly trained and educated people. They train for decades to help people and work ridiculous hours in harsh environments and deal with massive stress. Sure there are bad people in any group that large, but you shouldn't blame the majority for the few. 

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56 minutes ago, Wertbag said:

I can understand the other two but doctors is a massively diverse group, made up of many dedicated, highly trained and educated people. They train for decades to help people and work ridiculous hours in harsh environments and deal with massive stress. Sure there are bad people in any group that large, but you shouldn't blame the majority for the few. 

I understand his distrust of doctors a little too well. In spite of that, I don't think generalizations should be made. There are excellent doctors and shitty doctors, just as there are politicians and religious leaders who have altruistic motives and aren't out there for themselves.

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We have had assisted suicide here in Oregon, USA since 1997 (it's called the "Death with Dignity Act").  It has similar safeguards to the NZ legislation discussed in Wertbag's OP.  It's worked quite well here for 20 years.

 

The Oregon State Government prepares an annual report to the public.  Here is the 2017 report:

 

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Documents/year20.pdf

 

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7 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

The problem is that a majority of people (I think) do not understand exactly how mental illness is a biological thing (neither do all the specialists out there for that matter, I think its something we are currently learning a  lot about), and how difficult it can be to treat. A large part of it imo we can simply blame on the "you can choose to be happy" statement, which is unfounded. The other problem I think is that people tend to lump mental illness in an all or nothing box, which is simply wrong. Someone suffering from severe schizophrenia is going to be treated quite differently from someone with a mild case of depression that can be treated with meds and a combination of CBT, and the biological markers in the scenarios might be radically different.

This is interesting https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/roots

 

 

Another problem is the freedom with which people use the word depression.  "I'm so depressed" often really means boredom, loneliness, frustration, grief.  Actual clinical depression is something else all together.  

 

My point, though, to go back to the OP, is that I can totally see someone with acute, difficult to treat depression (or other types of severe mental illness) wanting to end their suffering permanently.  There have been times where I have been off meds and felt close to that.  Unless you've experienced it, it's really hard to help someone understand how that feels.  Something similar to that is a story I watched on assisted euthanasia where a man married with young children had severe migraine headaches that left him writhing in pain for days.  Doctors either could not find anything wrong with him or could not effectively treat it (can't remember which) and he was getting to the point where if nothing more could be done, he was seriously considering ending it.  As I recall, by the end of the program he was going in for another experimental exam or treatment, but was still keeping suicide as an option if this last effort did not work.  So again, what I am trying to say 🙄, is that in neither of these cases is the condition terminal but the effects of the condition are so detrimental to the sufferer's life that one has to consider how much suffering we are willing to force people to endure.  No easy answers, of course, because the cure for anything could be right around the corner, but who has the right to look a suffering person in the face and tell them they just have to endure until that "someday" comes?

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5 minutes ago, Daffodil said:

 

Another problem is the freedom with which people use the word depression.  "I'm so depressed" often really means boredom, loneliness, frustration, grief.  Actual clinical depression is something else all together.  

 

My point, though, to go back to the OP, is that I can totally see someone with acute, difficult to treat depression (or other types of severe mental illness) wanting to end their suffering permanently.  There have been times where I have been off meds and felt close to that.  Unless you've experienced it, it's really hard to help someone understand how that feels.  Something similar to that is a story I watched on assisted euthanasia where a man married with young children had severe migraine headaches that left him writhing in pain for days.  Doctors either could not find anything wrong with him or could not effectively treat it (can't remember which) and he was getting to the point where if nothing more could be done, he was seriously considering ending it.  As I recall, by the end of the program he was going in for another experimental exam or treatment, but was still keeping suicide as an option if this last effort did not work.  So again, what I am trying to say 🙄, is that in neither of these cases is the condition terminal but the effects of the condition are so detrimental to the sufferer's life that one has to consider how much suffering we are willing to force people to endure.  No easy answers, of course, because the cure for anything could be right around the corner, but who has the right to look a suffering person in the face and tell them they just have to endure until that "someday" comes?

Yep, I understand what you're saying. But I'm not sure that legislation will reach that point, where it gives chronically ill people the right to end their suffering. I would be in support of such legislation but I think it's a very tricky matter, for example where is the line drawn with suffering, or does there need to be a line, is it enough that someone is chronically ill and so far there is no cure? So far, it appears that the line is drawn with terminally ill people who will die further down the road due to their condition in any case.

I get it. I belong to the chronically ill community myself but would label my case as mild in comparison to some of the experiences I've heard about and stories I've read. I think there is a large disconnect between the chronic illness community and the medical community as it is, and that disconnect will not disappear, because the only other person who can understand what it is to suffer, is someone else who has also suffered in a similar way. As long as medical professionals and legislators are more interested in drawing a line ie "you suffer enough therefore you can die, and you don't suffer enough therefore you can't", it's all subjective and dependent on interpretation. That's why I'm just no fan of the "rate your pain on this scale today" thing in the medical professionm it makes no sense with chronically ill people, and the only scenario in which it makes sense is, has your pain decreased over time ie it can give a somewhat accurate measure of whether meds are working or not.

I also see this as an issue of rights. And I agree with you, I do not think other people have a right to tell a suffering person they have to endure. For one thing, it discredits the real experience of the sufferer, and I do see it as an imposition of someone else's moral judgement on another person's rights.

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