Find out what the End of Life Choice Bill is about and how you can have your say.
Margreet tells how her mother was euthanised without request in the Netherlands.
Margreet’s story is featured in an upcoming film called “Fatal Flaws” produced by DunnMedia in association with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Producers are actively raising funds for the film at FatalFlawsFilm.com.
What the End of Life Choice Bill is about and how you can have your say – Renee Joubert, Euthanasia-Free NZ.
Margreet, The Netherlands:
At the moment they gave her the injection; they said they gave it so that she could go to sleep. But, in fact, they just killed my mother.
The GP said, “Well, I’m here with your mother and I ordered an ambulance, because I think she has pneumonia.”
Yeah, I drove to the place where the hospital is and I got a call, and there was a voicemail from a doctor from the ER.
He said, “You don’t have to hurry, because you will not find her alive if you come to the hospital.”
And he said, “Yeah, we had to give her an injection so she will be in a coma, but it will be a coma she will not wake up.”
My daughter was with me and well, we drove to the hospital.
So I said, “But why, why didn’t you intubate her?”
And he said, “I called the GP and the GP said she was lonely; she was depressed; she didn’t want to go out of her house; and just wanted to stay in her house – She didn’t want to go to a home. Therefore we decided that it would be better not to treat her anymore.”
They said my mother was depressed, but she was not depressed!
The doctor called me in the middle of the night and said she had passed away.
And I said, “The cause of death? What’s the cause of death?”
And she said, “Pneumonia and heart failure.”
But I thought – I was laying there – “But no, that was not. It was that lethal injection you gave her.”
Kevin Dunn: They say that self-determination is what it’s all about, but in this case, was it self-determination?
Margreet: No absolutely not. She was euthanised without consent. They decided.
Renée Joubert, Executive Officer, Euthanasia-Free NZ:
In 2015 Dutch doctors ended the lives of 431 patients without their consent. The Netherlands decriminalised euthanasia about 15 years ago and it is illegal to end someone’s life without consent. But, it still happens. Why is that?
The euthanasia law implies that it’s better to be dead than to suffer. So some doctors think a person is suffering, or think they may suffer in the future, and then end the person’s life even if the person did not request it.
What does that have to do with New Zealand?
Currently our Parliament is considering a Bill that is based on the Dutch and Belgian euthanasia laws. Parliament’s Justice Committee is asking for your view on this Bill by 6 March*. In the next few minutes I’ll tell you briefly what this bill is about and how you can have your say.
The End of Life Choice Bill is NOT about turning off life support. It’s NOT about ‘do-not-resuscitate’ requests. It’s NOT about withdrawing treatment. It’s NOT about a person receiving as much pain relief as they may need. What this Bill is about is making it legal for a doctor to intentionally in a person’s life using lethal drugs.
This Bill is not only for terminally ill people. The bill also includes people with irreversible medical conditions. That could include disabilities; mental illness; ageing-related, degenerative conditions; long-standing chronic conditions, like arthritis or diabetes.
So if this Bill becomes law, an 18-year-old could be diagnosed with such a condition, request a lethal injection that same appointment, be dead days later, without telling anyone about the diagnosis or their desire to die.
It wouldn’t matter what else is going on in the person’s life… financial worries… relationships stress… as long as the person understands that they would die they would qualify.
Regardless of the details though, a euthanasia law would be dangerous to our society. It would make death a medical treatment. It would make it legal for one person to intentionally end the life of another person or assist in their suicide. It would make staying alive to receive care just another option, instead of the normal thing to do. A person may need to justify to themselves and to others why they’re still alive if death is the cheaper option.
You may wonder, “But isn’t this law for suffering people who are on their way to a horrible, painful death?”
Actually, nowadays in New Zealand everyone can die with their symptoms managed, with pain under control. It’s a matter of access: making sure a person has the care they need when they need it. That’s where our focus needs to be.
We know from the research that when a person wants assisted suicide or euthanasia they want it [mainly] for existential and emotional reasons, not physical pain.
It’s easy to have your say on this Bill.
You can do a basic submission in as little as five minutes. Just state clearly whether you support or oppose the End of Life Choice Bill and give a reason for your view in your own words. Add a true story if you have one, and also mention your occupation if it’s relevant. If you wrote to committees or MPs before on this issue, none of that counts. You need to write to this Committee again.
So make sure you have your say by the 6th of March*. Your voice really matters!
* On 15 February the deadline was extended from 20 February to 6 March.
CBS Statline. (2017, May 24). Death by medical end-of-life decision; age, cause of death. Retrieved from https://opendata.cbs.nl/#/CBS/en/dataset/81655ENG/table?ts=1516796058522.