Good palliative care could avoid need for euthanasia debate – expert

Stuff co.nz 17 February 2016
Family First Comment: “If palliative care was consistently high quality, accessible and saw more money spent on research for end of life drugs and services, New Zealand would likely not need to have the assisted suicide debate, he believed.” Exactly

If palliative care was consistently of high quality, and fully available, New Zealand would likely not need a debate on assisted suicide, an expert believes.

ACT leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill is currently before Parliament’s health select committee, following a period of submissions which closed on February 1.

Dr Michael Downing said for a small percentage of the population it was extremely important to appoint their own time of death, but he asked if that was a good reason to change the law.

“To what extent do you modify the law for a very small but important percentage?”

The Canadian-born doctor has been the palliative care medical lead for the South Canterbury District Health Board for two years.

He saw the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon in 1999, and in his homeland of Canada in February 2015. He said he was now hearing the debate in New Zealand.

A broad sector of the population supported legislation for assisted suicide here, with 71 per cent wanting a law change in a 2015 New/Reid research poll.

Based on other countries’ experience, however, only a few would follow through with it if legalised.

“It’s an interesting mismatch.”

If palliative care was consistently high quality, accessible and saw more money spent on research for end of life drugs and services, New Zealand would likely not need to have the assisted suicide debate, he believed.
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/76850162/Good-palliative-care-could-avoid-need-for-euthanasia-debate-expert

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