Lets be very clear when the next major push comes from those who wish to promote Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide in New Zealand. Lets learn from the experience of others when we hear of emotive reasons behind the "need" for the killing of those who are dying. This debate as we know is characterised by passionate debate on both sides of the fence. But as one commentator in the state of Oregon has recently commented, the implications for all of us must be studied very carefully. Looking at all the evidence and good law requires far more than emotion, passion and feeling.
Oregon’s law relating to Physician Assisted Suicide (H.168), was sold to the people of that state as a way of compassionately ending the pain of those suffering from uncontrollable degrees of it and who had less than six months to live.
The facts however are that there has not been a single documented case of PAS being used for a terminally ill patient with uncontrollable pain. Each case in which a person has been killed has been based on psychological and social concerns.
A study of 129 cases from 1998 to 2002 in Oregon, reveals the following reasons that a person chose to exercise the PAS option.
44 – burden on family, friends and caregivers;
99 – decreasing participation in activities;
73 – losing control of bodily functions;
106 – losing autonomy
28 – fear of pain.
There were no citations of experiencing uncontrollable pain.
In addition, PAS has been used in Oregon to remove those who are seen as a "burden" on their families and that state, has taken the first steps leading to euthanasia.
What can we in New Zealand learn from Oregon’s experience? If one thing is for sure it is that our legislators now have no excuse for using the pain argument when the facts so clearly speak for themselves.
(President Right to Life New Zealand Inc.)