NZ Herald 9 December 2015
A group opposed to euthanasia is encouraging more doctors to sign a new open letter objecting to assisted suicide.
But the MP backing a bid to legalise euthanasia says his bill is solid, and claimed the loud objections of some doctors were hypocritical and detached from public opinion.
The Care Alliance, which opposes euthanasia, said one its trustees, Dr Sinead Donelly, launched the online letter to send a message to lawmakers.
The letter claimed to have attracted the support of 40 doctors by mid-afternoon.
“We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to die would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship, which is based on trust and respect,” the letter stated.
“We are especially concerned with protecting vulnerable people who can feel they have become a burden to others, and we are committed to supporting those who find their own life situations a heavy burden.”
The letter invoked the position statements of the World Medical Association and New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA).
NZMA chairman Stephen Child said the association was not aware of the letter being published. However, the NZMA’s position statement on euthanasia was recently reviewed and was consistent with the tenor of the open letter.
In its position statement, the NZMA opposed euthanasia but supported the concept of “death with dignity and comfort”.
“Euthanasia, that is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient, even at the patient’s request or at the request of close relatives, is unethical.”
Yet the NZMA supported the right of patients to decline treatment, or request pain relief. It also supported the right of access to appropriate palliative care.
Doctors want no part in assisted suicide
We are committed to the concept of death with dignity and comfort, including the provision of effective pain relief and excellence in palliative care.
We uphold the right of patients to decline treatment, as set out in the NZ Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.
We know that the proper provision of pain relief, even if it may unintentionally hasten the death of the patient, is ethical and legal. Equally the withdrawal or withholding of futile treatment in favour of palliative care is ethical and legal.
We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to die would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship which is based on trust and respect.
We are especially concerned with protecting vulnerable people who can feel they have become a burden to others, and we are committed to supporting those who find their own life situations a heavy burden.
Doctors are not necessary in the regulation or practice of assisted suicide. They are included only to provide a cloak of medical legitimacy. Leave doctors to focus on saving lives and providing real care to the dying.
TO SIGN THIS LETTTER, GO TO http://doctorssayno.nz/