The submission was not a surprise as he had announced earlier this year, after the high profile High Court case of Lecretia Seales, that this was a project he was working on.
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.
News 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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)