New Zealand Palliative care doctor warns of euthanasia ‘ripple effect’

Editor’s note. This story was posted just prior to the decision which rejected Ms. Seales’s request. It remains very much worth reading.

As New Zealanders await the judgement in the case of Lecretia Seales who has appealed to the New Zealand Courts to allow her doctor to assist in her suicide without legal penalty, the country’s most senior palliative care specialist issues a stern warning.

Lecretia Seales

Lecretia Seales

According to One News, the chair of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, Dr. Amanda Landers, told Seven Sharp that euthanasia presents too many grey areas.

“How can we make sure that people aren’t being coerced – the most vulnerable sector of our society?”

Dr. Landers says euthanasia is not something palliative care professionals are trained to do.

“It’s not in our medical curriculum,” she said.

“I believe it will change the patient doctor relationship forever.”

She believes palliative care is advanced.

“People worry about pain a lot at the end of life. It’s not inevitable, actually. There are many, many people with tumours that don’t actually get pain,” she says.

“People are not so afraid of the death. They are afraid of how they’re going to die – fear of what it might be like, fear of being a burden, fear of pain, fear of not being listened to.”

The news report quotes Lecretia Seales as saying that “Losing my mental faculties really scares me the most because I’ve always had a good brain.” This is entirely understandable, but a comment devoid of any reference to consequences.

While we sympathise with Lecretia Seales, the consequences of a breach in the law prohibiting assisting in suicide–even where such a judgement might appear to be restricted to the case in hand (in other words: not attempting to set legal precedent)–the effect will be to precipitate a damn burst.

In South Africa, the High Court has accepted an appeal from The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, the Minister of Health, and the National Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the Health Professionals Counsel of South Africa (HSPCA) against the judgement in Pretoria on the 4th of May that allowed for a terminally ill man to be assisted in his suicide.

Editor’s note. This appeared at noeuthanasia.org.au