New Zealand doctors group wants “brakes” put on expanding euthanasia  

 By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 

On November 7 I reported that David Seymour, the leader of the ACT party and the MP who sponsored New Zealand’s euthanasia law, was calling for the law to be broadened.

On November 6, Isaac Davison reported for the New Zealand Herald  that Seymour wants the 6 month terminal illness prognosis in the law removed. Seymour indicated that he only included the terminal illness requirement in the law to gain support for euthanasia from the other political parties.

On November 28, New Zealand Royal College of GP’s medical director, Dr. Bryan Betty, called for “brakes” to be put on the expansion of euthanasia. As published by Scoop Politics.

The practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia has been happening for little over a year in New Zealand, and already some proponents are calling for changes to the criteria saying many are “missing out”. The main criteria under fire is the 6 month terminal prognosis requirement, which prevents those with only chronic conditions or disabilities from being eligible.

But Dr. Betty says broadening the eligibility criteria would not improve equitable choice to those facing end of life decisions. He is adamant that expansion of the End of Life Choice Act should not progress in light of the current palliative care climate in New Zealand, and not without careful analysis.

Dr. Betty argues that since there is no strategic plan for palliative care in New Zealand that an imbalance has developed with the legalization and promotion of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

According to Dr. Betty palliative care is not properly funded in New Zealand:

The Royal College of GPs includes more than 5,500 GPs, specialist GPs, trainee GPS, and rural hospital doctors who practise a range of different modalities from 1000 practices across the country.

Dr Betty says these doctors are often providing palliative care to their patients pro bono because there is no funding available for end of life care, and it’s a serious failing of the system.

“Palliative care is so dependent on local funding which is traditionally done by DHBs, but there’s a total lack of funding, resourcing and a national approach.”

As I previously stated, since New Zealand legalized euthanasia through a referendum and since the referendum stated that euthanasia would only be for terminally ill people with a six month prognosis, any changes to the law should require another referendum. 

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.

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