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The value of accepting suffering

Alison Davis and Colin Harte
Alison Davis and Colin Harte

 

One of the most inspirational people I have ever met came in the form of a very fragile woman, Alison Davis.

What a grace and wonderful moment to meet her and her devoted caregiver of more than twenty years, Colin Harte.   Motivational speakers and leaders of all manner and kind can speak eloquent words and bring societal change about through their social and verbal skills.  They can take thousands and even millions of people on a journey in their life that brings a perceived hope and bring change to the world in which they live.  BUT this lady, reached to the very soul of my being.   The only other person in my life having this profound effect was Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

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Euthanasia not on the horizon… for now

Say no to euthanasiaNews that Labour MP, Iain Lees-Galloway will not resubmit the End of Life Choice Bill is warmly welcomed.

The bill had been inherited by Lees-Galloway, as its earlier sponsor, Maryan Street, failed to be re-elected into Parliament in the recent general election.  But any attempt to resubmit the bill by Lees-Galloway has been squashed by new Labour leader, Andrew Little.

Although Little is not opposed to euthanasia he believes there are more important issues to deal with as the party attempts to rebuild.  In a Herald article he is quoted as saying:

It’s not about avoiding controversy but it’s about choosing the controversies that are best for us at this point in time. That stuff on euthanasia, it isn’t the time for us to be talking about that.

So for the time being, it looks like euthanasia will not be on the political horizon.

However, this does not mean that we should rest.  There is much work to be done.  The pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby are working very hard to change the general public’s view of end of life issues.

It should also be noted that another MP, either from Labour or another political party, could also take the opportunity to submit the End of Life Choice bill – or a similar one.

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Euthanasia Free NZ released an excellent press release on the issue, which I publish here in full:

Labour congratulated on withdrawing bill

Euthanasia Free NZ – Press Release

Euthanasia-Free NZ congratulates Labour leader Andrew Little and MP Iain Lees-Galloway for resisting sponsorship of the ex-Maryan Street voluntary euthanasia bill.

The End-of-Life Choice Bill proposes legal assisted suicide and euthanasia for anyone over 18 who has either a terminal condition which could end their life in 12 months, or an irreversible physical or mental medical condition that the person feels makes their life unbearable. It would effectively legalise euthanasia for anyone with a chronic physical or mental illness, disability, ageing-related condition or any condition for which a person refuses further treatment.Euthanasia-Free NZ congratulates Labour leader Andrew Little and MP Iain Lees-Galloway for resisting sponsorship of the ex-Maryan Street voluntary euthanasia bill.

“Public support for voluntary euthanasia is overestimated and based on unscientific online polls that ask an uninformed public to respond to leading questions couched in euphemisms”, says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

“Hence, many people confuse “assisted dying” (a euphemism) with switching off life support, withdrawing or refusing treatment and ‘do-not-resuscitate’ orders. However, euthanasia actually involves a doctor administering lethal drugs by injection in a way similar to overseas executions. Assisted suicide involves a person swallowing lethal drugs prescribed by their doctor.”

Many are ignorant of studies showing that up to 35% of doctor-assisted deaths involve complications such as uncontrolled vomiting, epileptic fits and delayed death. It is hardly ‘death with dignity”. Many don’t know that witnessing the assisted death of a loved one carries the same risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as Iraqi war veterans have.”

A common misconception is that euthanasia and assisted suicide are purely private matters. That is not so. Both require the involvement of another party to execute, hence are public matters. Legalising euthanasia means making it legal for one person to be involved in deliberately ending the life of another person. Calling it “mercy killing” can hide a multitude of motives, including elder abuse.

Many are unaware that uncontrolled pain is not the reason why people request euthanasia or assisted suicide. The actual reasons are existential, such as being less able to engage in enjoyable activities and fear of being a burden. A high proportion of requests are from depressed people. A UK study of the terminally ill showed that 98% of those wanting to die changed their minds after being treated for depression.

The unintended consequences of euthanasia legislation are unknown to many. Several depressed, but otherwise healthy, Belgians have been euthanised. Many naively believe that legal euthanasia can be regulated and that safeguards can prevent coercion and subtle pressure on vulnerable people to request death. It is not so.

Two 2010 studies on assisted deaths in Flanders, Belgium, show that only 53% of cases were reported and of these, less than three-quarters followed legal requirements. 32% of euthanasia deaths were without the patient’s request. In half of these, death was the wish of family. In 20% of cases improvement in the person’s medical condition was still possible. 92% of victims killed without consent were 65 years or older.

Dr Theo Boer, who initially supported euthanasia and reviewed about 4000 cases as a member of a Dutch Regional Euthanasia Commission, is now warning other countries not to make the mistake The Netherlands did in legalising euthanasia. Our parliamentarians would do well to heed his advice.

ENDS

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Potential Labour leaders show where they stand on euthanasia

Euthanasia: Killing or Caring?Andrew Little, who is vying for the Labour leadership, has made it clear that he does not think the End of Life Choice Bill should be returned to the ballot.

The controversial End of Life Choice Bill which was once championed by Maryan Street, is now in the hands of Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway (Labour).

Street failed to garner enough electorate votes in the September general election and the Labour party’s poor take of the Party vote meant that she also didn’t get into parliament on the list ticket.

Little, who only scraped into parliament himself, is not opposed to euthanasia, however, he believes that the Labour party needs to focus on more important issues rather than those that had the potential to cause controversy.

According to the NZ Herald, Little noted that

The challenge for the next three years is for us to emphasise issues of priority to a broad cross-section of New Zealanders and I’m not sure [euthanasia] is one of them.

There are mixed feelings from other contenders for the Labour Party leadership.

Grant Robertson advised Lees-Galloway to take the issue forward by creating a cross-party group.

Nanaia Mahuta fully supported the reintroduction of the End of Life Choice Bill to the ballot.

David Parker did not want to comment on the issue.

But Lees-Galloway believes that the euthanasia debate was not a party issue and would not detract from the bigger issues that the Party faces.

He was going to gauge the support the Bill would have in parliament before entering it back into the ballot.

Maryan Street withdrew the End of Life Choice Bill from the ballot last year under pressure from the Labour party which did not want to have to discuss the issue during an election year.

The new leader of the Labour party will be announced on November 18th.

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Maryan Street fails to make it back into Parliament

Maryan StreetLabour candidate, Maryan Street, who is a staunch euthanasia and assisted suicide advocate, has failed to make it back into Parliament after the general election on Saturday.

Street, who has been an MP since 2005, had placed the End of Life Choice Bill into the Member’s Ballot in July 2012.

Late last year, Street came under pressure from her party to remove the Bill as it was deemed too controversial a subject to be debating in an election year.

Street withdrew the Bill from the Ballot, vowing to reintroduce it after the election.  However, once again she failed to win the electorate seat of Nelson.  Her position on Labour’s List should have seen her re-enter Parliament for another term, but their support has deteriorated to its lowest since 1922 and they did not gain enough seats for Street to be selected.

Considered by many to be filled with loopholes, the End of Life Choice Bill, if passed, would have legalised physician assisted suicide for those who were suffering from an “irreversible physical or mental medical condition” who were experiencing “unbearable” pain.

Doctors who object to euthanasia and assisted suicide would have been obliged to refer patients to other practitioners who could carry out their wishes.

Most concerning to those against the Bill was the clause granting immunity from civil and criminal liability for any person acting in good faith who failed through act or omission to follow the law.

There are still 300,000 special votes to be counted which could potentially change the situation. However, it is unlikely that Labour will gain another seat, bringing Street back into Parliament.

The possibility that another MP will take up the cause cannot be ruled out.

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The Edges of Life

Grandpa and baby

The edges of life are controversial. On one side there are the debates about contraception, abortion and in vitro fertilisation. At the end of life the debates are about euthanasia, organ transplantation, and its cousin, brain death.

Trauma surgeon Peter Rhee is rewriting the rules on brain death. Normally when we see this, it’s someone wanting to declare people dead sooner so their organs can be harvested for transplantation into other sick patients. Peter Rhee is taking the definition in the other direction.

While Dr Rhee’s name might not be that well known, some of his patients are. He was one of congresswoman Gabby Giffords doctors. Dr Rhee knows about death. He’s a trauma surgeon who has seen mass shooting patients in the United States. He’s also been to Iraq and Afghanistan to save the lives of soldiers, even going behind enemy lines to treat the injured. He’s even been selected as a personal surgeon to the president of the US on an overseas trip.

But it’s patients in the US that might be rewriting the rules on when death occurs. He’s part of a team that’s been experimenting on ‘suspended animation’, to save trauma patients. The team has permission to start human trials on trauma patients who have gone into heart failure and can’t be resuscitated by current techniques. The team will rapidly cool the patient’s body to 10°C (50°F), where metabolic activity slows almost to a stop. In this state, the heart is stopped, there is no breathing, and no detectable brain activity. This would be normally be considered clinical death. But the surgeons have 2 hours to repair their patient’s injuries before slowly warming them up and reviving them. If their prior work holds up in human trials, up to 90% of patients could survive the cooling and rewarming procedure itself.

And that 2 hours is time the surgeons wouldn’t normally have for life saving surgery. This technique will only work if they are able to apply it to the patient in the minutes after heart failure before brain damage starts to take place. Previous work has so far shown no brain damage or impaired function from the cooling and rewarming procedure. The team will be following their patients closely to see if this is also the case in the human trials.

Some of Rhee’s comments on the research and his clinical work are telling, “Every day at work I declare people dead. They have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity. I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they are not actually dead. I could, right then and there, suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag. It’s frustrating to know there’s a solution”.

Dr Rhee is saying that the current definition of death is inadequate and often premature. We often see that definitions of life and death are based on what is convenient. Some organs can only be ‘harvested’ from a ‘dead’ person where there is a heartbeat. Some of these ‘dead’ people have woken on the operating table, moments before their organs were going to be harvested.

Definitions also chip away at the other end of life too. Many medical and legal organisations now define ‘established pregnancy’ as starting at implantation, not conception (fertilisation). Once pregnancy is defined at implantation, and abortion is defined as ending a pregnancy, then emergency ‘contraception’ doesn’t cause ‘abortions’. And if you jump through the same linguistic hoops, hormonal contraceptives don’t cause abortions either. Despite the words and definitions, human embryos are still being destroyed by so called ‘contraceptives’.

The extreme view of this is held by Australian ethicist Peter Singer, and Nobel prize winning molecular biologist James Watson, who have stated that new-born infants shouldn’t be declared alive straight after birth. These frightening ideas were put forward to allow new-borns to be left to die, or even directly killed. Pro-abortion organisations have even opposed regulations that protect the life of a child born alive after abortion.

Given these developments, we should applaud the efforts of scientist and doctors where they are true to their profession and work to save lives, especially when they are able to save the life that couldn’t previously be saved.

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A Pro-life view of ‘Tolerance’

“Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.” G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Something about ‘tolerance’ has always made me uncomfortable. I’ve long been aware that the loudest preachers of tolerance are the ones who are the most intolerant of my own beliefs. I’m well aware of that, and the contradiction of it, but somehow it never really was the reason.

And those who preach tolerance are full of conviction. It’s their followers who they expect to abandon their convictions, or conform to what is politically correct. We all know plenty of them. I’ve also been aware of this for a long time, but it was never the whole source of what was bothering me about ‘tolerance’.

There was always something else that I could never put my finger on.

Then I was blessed enough to hear Fr Jim Brand from Vatican radio talking about ‘tolerance’, and my eyes were opened. “What might we tolerate?” he asked, “A fly buzzing around…”

Essentially he was reminding us all that when we only ‘tolerate’ something bad or irritating. When we declare our tolerance of a person, it’s actually a put down. And that’s a problem for a Christian. The worth of each and every person comes from them being made in the image and likeness of God. Whether it’s a ‘reproductive rights’ protestor, an expectant mum at a pregnancy centre, or her preborn child. Another human being is never a ‘thing’ to be ‘tolerated’, but a chance for us to practice our Christian vocation of love.

So tolerance is far below the standard required of a Christian. If an expectant Mum came into our centre, and I merely tolerated her because of her beliefs about abortion, then I have failed her, myself and our Lord.

Her, because she will pick up the difference between a ‘tolerant’ attitude and a true Christian attitude of unconditional love. It’s the reason that faith based crisis pregnancy centres have been so effective. I’ve failed myself because I’ve failed to live up to my Christian vocation, and it doing so, I’ve failed our Lord too.

But there is the call to be intolerant. Yes, Christians are called to be intolerant. Our Lord himself showed a great deal of intolerance towards the practice of ‘money changing’ in the temple.

While we are not to be intolerant of people, there is plenty we are called to be intolerant too: Abortion, contraception, poverty, human trafficking, violence and anything that robs people of their God given dignity.

It’s our mission and vocation to bring the Gospel of Life, a world where everyone experiences God given grace and dignity, from conception to natural death. And it’s our job to be intolerant to a culture of death that robs people of their God given dignity, and then so often, their lives too.

And in this, may we never be that man without a conviction!

“All men are equal as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the King.” G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

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Euthanasia campaigner calls for New Zealand to follow Belgium’s lead on child euthanasia

by Michelle Kaufman
Reposted from LifeSiteNews.com

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, February 17, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com)  – A pro-euthanasia campaigner has called for New Zealand to follow Belgium’s lead by legalizing euthanasia for children.

Lesley Martin, who was convicted for attempting to murder her mother, believes the practice is already happening in New Zealand, although “covertly” and “without official sanction.”

“It’s because doctors are compassionate people and they can see a terminally ill child suffering and still administer excessive doses of medication in the same way that they do with adults,” Martin claimed in an interview with 3News.

However this assertion has been contested by Dr. David Richmond, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine and spokesperson for Euthanasia-Free NZ.  He believes that the Australia and New Zealand Society for Palliative Care “would strenuously deny that terminally ill children are deliberately overdosed with medication so as to bring about their early death.”

Martin’s allegation, he says, is a deliberate attempt at “trying to convince the New Zealand public that there is already widespread use of euthanasia in New Zealand,” in order “to soften them up for the re-introduction of the End of Life Choice Bill or its successor.”

The End of Life Choice Bill, was introduced into the private member’s ballot by Labour MP Maryan Street in 2012.  It was withdrawn in September 2013 amidst pressure from her party, which did not want such an emotive topic debated in 2014, an election year.

Had the bill passed into law, adults would have been able to request euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide for an “irreversible physical or mental medical condition that, in the person’s view, renders his or her life unbearable.”

Euthanasia for children is a possibility that Street has not ruled out.  At a 2013 public meeting in New Plymouth, she commented on the issue saying that it “was a bridge too far in my view at this time,” but “that might be something that may happen in the future.”

Dr Richmond believes that this indicates “she and other proponents of legalising euthanasia” are “planning behind the scenes to extend the indications as soon as they think the public will stomach them.”

Concerned about children’s vulnerability, Richmond contests that they will “have no power to counter the opinion of adults, especially doctors” who believe “that their best option is death.”

He warns that Belgium’s move to legalize child euthanasia “is showing us that once legalised, euthanasia spreads like an epidemic to include everyone from the youngest to the oldest in its fearsome grip.”

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Speaking out against euthanasia

Euthanasia: Killing or Caring?Maryan Street’s End of Life Choice Bill may have been withdrawn from the ballot, however, efforts to garner more support from the general public for legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand have not disappeared.

Without the direct possibility of the draft bill being drawn from the ballot and being debated and voted on in the house, pro-euthanasia advocates are utilising every possible opportunity to promote their agenda.  That way, when the time comes, and the Bill is replaced into the ballot and drawn, public opinion will, they hope, have been swayed enough to make this attempt an easy win.

The news site Stuff is currently running stories written by the public about euthanasia.  So far, the majority are pro-euthanasia, although the odd pro-life article has managed to get through.

Stuff are asking you to contribute with these questions in mind?

Should the government look in to a law change around terminally ill people choosing to end their own lives? How did you or do think you would feel if a close relative battling illness asked you to assist them in ending their own life?

Do you think the government should step in and make changes, or is this not an issue that should be up for debate?

In these busy days leading up to the joyous celebration of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, it is difficult to find time for anything outside of our commitments.  This assignment though, is an important one.  One that is worth the time and effort.  Your opinion matters.  Your voice needs to be heard.  Please join me (and the few others that have already done so) in speaking up for life and for Truth.

You might find the following helpful:

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide by Fr Clovis

Euthanasia: What it is and what it is not

Top reasons why euthanasia hurts individuals and society

Declaration on Euthanasia Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) John Paul II

Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering) John Paul II

Kill the pain not the patient:  A 17-year-old speaks out on euthanasia by Lia Mills

Recent news stories from around the world on euthanasia can be found here.

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New Zealand coroner urges politicians to address euthanasia

by Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
Reposted from LifeSiteNews.com

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, October 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a newly released report, a coroner in Wellington, New Zealand has urged politicians to address the issue of euthanasia.

The call by coroner Ian Smith comes after he investigated the death of Edna Gluyas, 85, who was found dead on her bed by her daughter on August 3, 2011. Gluyas’ death was brought about by the use of a home-made contraption which suffocated her.

It was initially thought Gluyas was aided in her death, as she suffered from arthritis and the contraption seemed awkward for her to use without help. However the inquiry found that she acted alone.

Smith noted that the “death could be described as a suicide or euthanasia,” although he preferred the term euthanasia as it was “the more appropriate description in this circumstance.”

He said her death “raises the vexed issue of euthanasia.“ “This process simply will not go away, and it will be necessary for Parliament to address this matter yet again,” he added.

Labour MP Maryan Street recently withdrew her End of Life Choice Bill from the ballot as it was feared that discussion of such an emotional topic during an election year would be a negative distraction.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday commented that although he supports voluntary euthanasia “under certain circumstances.” and would consider it if he were terminally ill, he thought it “hard to believe the Government would put it on the agenda any time soon.”

It is possible for another Member of Parliament to submit a private member’s bill on the issue.

Despite seemingly high approval of legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand, opposition does still exist.

Voice for Life’s national president, Bernard Moran, stated that Smith was “acting irresponsibly in failing to recognise the real dangers of lethal elder abuse.” Moran also noted that family lawyers have made it “clear that if assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia were ever legalised… elder abuse of the frail and vulnerable would soon become lethal.”

The national director of Family Life International NZ, Dame Colleen Bayer, explained that her organisation would “continue to educate society on the value and dignity of the human person, especially in moments of great suffering.” However, she also noted that education was not enough. “We must be there, offering a hand of friendship to those who are most vulnerable to euthanasia practices – the elderly, the sick and the disabled,” she said.