John Key stands by euthanasia comments
Fri, 24 Aug 2012 7:50a.m.
By Adrien Taylor
Prime Minister John Key has sparked outrage among health care professionals with his comments that euthanasia effectively happens in New Zealand, despite being illegal.
The Society of Palliative Medicine says the claim is ‘completely false’ and fears it may make the public less trusting of hospital care.
Palliative medicine specialist Sinead Donnelly cares for 500 dying patients each year - she says her focus is helping them live the rest of their lives as well as possible, not helping them die.
“We were appalled by the statement coming from the Prime Minister of New Zealand, which is a highly respected position that people would take seriously. That's clearly not true,” says Mrs Donnelly, the chair of the Australia New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine.
Key made the claim on Newstalk ZB while discussing Labour MP Maryann Street's private members bill to legalise euthanasia, and last night, he stood by the comments.
“In a practical sense I think that already happens in New Zealand... switches get turned off from time to time don't they?” He said.
Mrs Donnelly says she's concerned the Prime Minister's remarks could lead the public to lose trust in hospital care.
But Key isn't backing down, as the heated debate continues about whether people should have the right to choose to die.
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27/08/2012 9:47:15 a.m.
Why do fools respond to anything the PM says by carrying on about 'he destryed the economy' and such like. This discussion is about euthanasia and his comments on what happens in hospitals now. Keep focused and avoid ill-infornmed rhetoric. The world is in recession in case the blinkered few can't see that.
27/08/2012 9:18:32 a.m.
Anyone medical person will tell you that there is a HUGE difference between with-holding things that could extend life, and actively ending a life. As a GP I see this difference every day. This is discussed with every person who enters a resthome, and they have the option to sign a NFR (Not for Resuscitation) order so staff know how active to be if there is an event like MI / Stroke / respiratory arrest etc. A better term for NFR is AND (Allow Natural Death). This is a far cry from actively giving something to kill someone, and is NOT 'passive euthenasia'. It is in incredibly important distinction to make, not "quibbling about terminology".
26/08/2012 8:00:24 a.m.
A family member of mine went through 3 heart attacks, 7 strokes, developed dementia and discovered he had cancer over a space of 7 years before his body had enough. He was miserable the whole time. I think euthanasia is an amazing idea when the person is in that much pain, but it would have to be monitored so it wasn't abused, like said people signing contracts and contacting family themselves so it's obvious the hospitals aren't playing God. This is the only thing I've agreed with from Key in a long time.
25/08/2012 9:35:10 p.m.
now he knows more about medicine than the doctors enough is enough why does he not stand by his economy he ruined and the unemployment rate he tripled , and the manufacturing that he has almost made extinct in this country . preferring under these free trade agreements to have stuff made in chins by kids rather than kiwis . greedy pigs .their 35 year old economic plan is crumbling from under them .after 5 years in office they are taking personal responsibility . its the government that should be on performance pay not the peasants .
25/08/2012 8:12:17 p.m.
If what Key and Kiwis are saying is true. That euthanasia happens anyway in hospitals. Correct me if I'm wrong BUT are these nurses/doctors committing murder??? because euthanasia isn't legalised in NZ yet.
24/08/2012 4:14:34 p.m.
John Key is right, along with most of the comments posted. What I am also concerned about is the fact you don't have a say when you want to go, but your spouce (children, partner etc in ascending order) gets to choose for you. The same with your will. You might not want to leave stuff to some people or want to get buried a certain way or in a certain place, yet others can step all over your plans. What I am getting at is, no one including your family or the government or legislation which is supposedly for the good of all, should tell you want is good for you or when they think you should die or not. I am grateful nursing teams actually do help in the final days for the terminally ill, for the people who do want to hold on, but can't. That British guy who stopped eating to die, how dare some "authority" said he couldn't die with dignity, there are too many control freaks out there who want us to live to their rules.
24/08/2012 3:14:11 p.m.
to say that the definition of Euthanasia is a hindrance and is irrelevant is exactly the reason why the "slippery slope" argument exists in the first place.
If someone is dying from their incurable illness, and they are receiving treatment/intervention 'A' (for example fluids, nutrition etc.) and they will die regardless of whether they receive 'A' or not, and it is then observed that administering 'A' itself causes distress and suffering, then it's not ethical to keep administering 'A'. On the other hand, if they are getting treatment 'B' and they will die whether they receive that treatment or not, but it is observed that treatment 'B' relieves some of their symptoms and makes them feel more comfortable, then treatment 'B' should be continued.
For example, if someone is dying from an incurable process and they are not hungry, would you complain if they didn't eat anything? or do you continue to force feed them even though you've tried that it seen that it causes them abdominal pain and vomiting?
Or, if someone is dying from an incurable illness and they are in pain and they are prescribed painkillers, and the painkillers ease their pain, then the pain killers should be continued until they are as comfortable as possible, and not causing any distress or suffering themselves. However, they won't die from the painkillers, they'll die because they have a fatal illness - and everyone dies eventually.
The problem exists because most 'lay persons' have a lack of perspective. They make the misguided assumption that the terminally ill, dying person has the same needs as someone who is not terminally ill. This could not be further from the truth - just ask anyone that's terminally ill, or actually read some books about the subject.
As well as that, most people form their opinions because of 1 or 2 experiences within the system - whereas it would be wiser to actually consult the people that see this day in, day out e.g. Palliative care professionals
24/08/2012 2:00:19 p.m.
Ann David wrote:
You are quite correct, Mr Key, and we all know it. What's the difference between removing someone's feeding tube and keeping them sedated until they die of something (starvation, "underlying causes", underlying causes provoked by starvation?) and giving them life ending medication? Palliative care accepts slow death by terminal sedation but not quick death by voluntary euthanasia. We can quibble about the terminology all we want, but it doesn't change the fact: euthanasia can and does happen in our hospitals and thank goodness for it!
24/08/2012 12:43:29 p.m.
Key is correct, ‘passive’ euthanasia occurs all the time in hospitals in NZ. We used to give a bolus [ large] dose of morphine or Pethidine to elderly patients who had advanced CA, riddled with pain and were going to die in a few days. The Morphine slowed down the CNS and the breathing. We gave it during the day so patients would pass away in the evening so families did not have to come in the middle of the night. It was done with dignity and care. It was not discussed much between the Drs. and nurses as it was accepted that this was the caring thing to do and it was done with dignity. Key is correct - ‘passive’ euthanasia occurs all the time – this is opposed to ‘active’ euthanasia which is illegal. Passive euthanasia could be considered illegal as such but it has never been tested in courts and it would be difficult to prove as the clients were terminally ill anyway.
24/08/2012 10:53:53 a.m.
John key is right. The medical profession gets off on a technicality by defining euthanasia narrrowly. Every time a hospital or hospice removes nutritional or therapeutic support to a patiant that's euthanasia by omission rather than comission. The medical profession needs to stop the hypocrisy around this and acknowledge that they do, from time to time, hasten a person's death. It's a conscious and deliberate act to remove life preserving treatments in the full knowledge that it will bring about a patient's death. The only thing wrong with that is it's a more protracted form of administering death than a shot of morphine into a vein.I'm no fan of John Key, but when he's right he's right. And he's right to call out the medical profession on this. My friend was in a coma for over a year, the family and doctors finally decided to withdraw nutritional support, antibiotic treatment and regular removal of fluid in the lungs. He was dead within days (probably of drowning on lung fluids). He would not have died when he did had those treatments carried on. Not euthanasia? Only if you want to play at semantics it isn't. What they did was no different in effect than giving him an overdose of morphine. I think it was right to let him die, but the morphine (or whatever) option should have been available, and used.
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