17 August 2013
Ms Maryan Street MP,
Dear Ms Street,
Thank you for your letter of 1 August 2013. I believe that the fundamental issue of your ‘End of Life Choice Bill’, is the role of Parliament in respect to the medical ethics of the medical profession. It is important for the practice of medicine that the profession has an accepted code of medical ethics that firstly protects the health and lives of members of the community, especially that of the elderly and disabled. Secondly medical ethics are essential for protecting the members of the profession who are dedicated to caring and not killing.
For the practice of medicine it is imperative that the ethics of the profession must have the protection of the rule of law and be free from political coercion or interference. It is a matter of great concern that your Bill challenges the most important medical ethic. This ethic is the ethic on which all the other ethics depend; the duty of a physician to protect the life of the patient.. Should your Bill be drawn from the ballot, your Bill will seek to have Parliament usurp the right of the medical profession to set and uphold its own code of medical ethics. It is contended that this will be a most retrograde step, a threat to the integrity of the medical profession and a threat to the safety of the community.
I wish to draw your attention to the following resolutions passed by the World Medical Association. On Monday 29 July, 2013 at its 194th WMA Council Session in Bali, Indonesia, the WMA, reaffirmed a number of earlier resolutions and affirmations (from 1987 onwards to 2005), resolved that:
· It reaffirms its strong belief that euthanasia is in conflict with basic ethical principles of medical practice, and
· Strongly encourages all National Medical Associations and physicians to refrain from participating in euthanasia, even if national law allows it or decriminalizes it under certain conditions.
Information on WMA
The WMA is the umbrella for over a 100 National Medical Associations, representing physicians from some 90 countries around the world. The WMA provides a forum for its member associations to communicate freely, to co-operate actively, to achieve consensus on high standards of medical ethics and professional competence and to promote the professional freedom of physicians worldwide.
Lest we forget
Our experience with the T4 Nazi Euthanasia programme which started in Germany in October 1939, commenced with the killing of disabled newborns, the mentally sick, the disabled, Jews and Gypsies and finally all non Germans. There were between 250,000 and 350,000 Germans killed in the Euthanasia programme. It all started with calls from pro euthanasia groups for mercy killing, death with dignity and the right to choose the time of one’s death.
Leo Alexander, an American psychiatrist, was a consultant to the Secretary of War and serving with the office of the Chief Counsel for War Crimes in Nuremberg during 1946 and 1947.He said;
"Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them, that they started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of physicians.
It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic to the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick.
Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially “inferior” and finally all non Germans.”
In 2012 in Holland, six euthanasia flying squads of a doctor and a nurse have begun house calls. These teams will visit people who want to end their lives but whose wishes have been thwarted by another doctor who refuses to approve their request or simply does not want to kill his patient. These squads are expected to pick up patients with dementia, Alzheimers, depression, loneliness and disability, who have been missed by hospitals. The squads are expected to’ pick up’ a further 1,000 patients, to be added to the 3,000 deaths which are officially reported each year.
A Lancet study indicated that in 2010, 23% of all euthanasia deaths were not reported. The Lancet study found that there were 3136 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010, but there were actually 3859 euthanasia deaths and 192 assisted suicide deaths that year. Since 23% of all euthanasia deaths are not reported in the Netherlands, we can estimate that in 2011, the number of actual euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands was more likely (3695 + 23% of 3695) 4544.
I accept that your bill is not set in opposition to palliative care. I also agree with your objective that no person should die in agony and that every person has a right to die with dignity. These are the objectives of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine. Increased government funding would enable Hospice New Zealand to make palliative care available to more New Zealanders. A recent Dutch government investigation of euthanasia has come up with some disturbing findings. In 1990, 1,030 Dutch patients were killed WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.
· I would be grateful if you would advise me if you support increased government funding for palliative care, to enable more New Zealanders to die with dignity.
· Do you consider that Parliament has the authority and the right to challenge and overturn the foundation ethic of the medical profession not to kill their patient or assist in their suicide?
· Can you give an assurance that if your bill was passed there would not be any patients killed by their doctor without their knowledge or consent?