On Sunday 7 November, the End of Life Choice Act, 2019 will come into force and New Zealand patients will be able to request euthanasia and assisted suicide. The lethal interventions will be generously funded by the tax payer.
In the lead-up to the implementation of this anti-life, and anti-hope Act, the Ministry of Health has been working studiously to implement all the legal requirements and set up the system in which euthanasia and assisted suicide will take place.
The Ministry has published a plethora of resources on their website, as well as e-learning modules on the platform LearnOnline.com. There are conversation guides, a handbook for health professionals, and diagrams explaining the “care pathway” that should be followed when a patient requests euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand (SCENZ) Group established
At the beginning of August, the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand (SCENZ) group was established. Eleven members have been appointed to the SCENZ group; their responsibility will be to:
- Keep a list of medical and nurse practitioners and psychiatrists willing to perform euthanasia or assist a patient in suicide;
- Provide details of willing medical and nurse practitioners as required;
- Provide support in the development of the “standards of care”;
- Oversee the “standards of care”.
Currently, the SCENZ Group is compiling a list of medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists who are willing to participate in providing euthanasia and assisted suicide.
One member of the SCENZ Group, Dr. Kynan Bazley (Nelson), has recently returned from Canada. Bazley was serving as a GP in rural Canada and held the position of physician lead in a rural region for the Canadian euthanasia programme – Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD). The Ministry of Health website clearly states that Dr. Bazley “has assessed and provided MAiD services to patients.”
The Registrar and End of Life Review Committee have yet to be appointed.
Huge cost benefits for health practitioners who participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are to be provided as part of the national health care service, and as such are funded by the Crown. A section 88 notice has been published in the New Zealand Gazette communicating the means by which medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists may be paid.
An attending medical or nurse practitioner can claim $1087.20 for killing their patient, or assisting them in their suicide.
In addition to the above fee, attending medical practitioners can claim $724.80 for responding to a patient’s request, completing the paperwork, giving the first opinion, and referring for a second opinion, or for a psychiatrist’s report. If these requirements take more than three hours, the fee can escalate to $1208.
A further $362.40 may be claimed by the attending medical practitioner when they deliver the news as to the person’s eligibility and put in place the next steps such as support services, paperwork, and if eligible, arranging the time and date of death.
The independent medical practitioner who gives a second opinion can claim $604.00.
Psychiatrists who determine the competency of the person requesting euthanasia or assisted suicide, and who advises the medical practitioners if the person is eligible may claim $1544.16.
Further, if the medical or nurse practitioner or a psychiatrist needs to travel to the patient, they may claim expenses, and charge an hourly rate for the time. The hourly rate is $120.80 for medical and nurse practitioners and $193.02 for psychiatrists.
All in all, an attending medical practitioner who is part of the process from start to finish, may claim more than $2,000.00. If the initial consultations and paperwork take longer than 3 hours to complete, this fee could escalate to more than $3,000.00.
Funding is not available to practitioners who provide services for any part of the euthanasia and assisted suicide framework as an employee of a District Health Board (DHB). In order to claim the funds, they must be working independently of the DHB in this particular area.
On their website, the Ministry of Health explains that under the Crown Funding Agreement, “public hospitals are required to be a facility of last resort for assisted dying.” Further, it is not required of the DHBs “to directly provide” euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The government, in passing the End of Life Choice Act, has paved a way for New Zealand that further threatens the dignity of human life. Taxpayers will be paying generously for health practitioners to kill their patients or assist them in suicide instead of giving them hope, and helping them to have a truly good death. The government has added a sweetener to those hungry to make more money, offering them a handsome monetary package for their time and for their willingness to participate in what is an unsavoury practice, not befitting someone who has pledged to care for their patients.
NOTE: We at Family Life International avoid the use of the term “assisted dying” as this euphemistic phrase is an attempt to hide the reality of what is taking place. New Zealand has legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide. In the first instance a medical or nurse practitioner kills their patient directly, in the second instance they provide the lethal drugs so that their patient can commit suicide. We must never sanitise reality by using words that don’t tell the whole truth.