Why NZers wouldn’t support Euthanasia if they read this – why Jenny Shipley makes me never want Euthanasia

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New propaganda survey in the war to legalise euthanasia is out, supporters of euthanasia say it’s proof that NZers want to pass this legislation.

I say that those NZers would quickly change their mind if they read this.

I don’t support euthanasia in NZ.

I’ve heard the arguments, I’ve listened to the debate, and I just don’t support it.

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“If you were an animal you wouldn’t let it suffer” – Yes but we aren’t animals are we. We are self-conscious free thinking human beings.

“Letting people live in pain is wrong”. Yes it is, and we have incredible pain management these days, only very rare cases are left to writhe in agony.

“People have the right to end their life”. No they don’t. They may have the right to commit suicide if you want to go that far, but the right to ask another to end their life? That’s not been agreed to at all!  This is a decision whanau and the wider community are all party to because of it’s ramifications upon the very fabric of our society.

I have 3 main reasons I disagree with euthanasia in NZ.

The first is the type of person and the reasons they push for euthanasia. It always seems to me to be alpha type personalities. Over achievers, people of deep independence who pride themselves on that independence. People who would consider the embarrassment of being unable to control their body functions worse than death itself. Their demand for death revolves around their inability to control the process of death. That doesn’t warrant allowing another to administer a medical cocktail that ends life.

Which brings me to my second reason, the humility of death. Dying as a process isn’t supposed to be clean and efficient. It’s painful, it’s human, it requires the family and friends you’ve built in a  lifetime to nurse you through your final moments. It is a deeply emotional time, a journey where the journey is far more important than the destination. The process of letting go, of saying goodbye is a deeply personal and intimate part of the human experience. To deny that is to deny one of the most important rituals of human life.

But the biggest reason I would never want euthanasia in NZ is Jenny Shipley.

One of the most important pieces of journalism investigative reporter Selwyn Manning ever wrote was in the mid 1990’s when he single handedly managed to expose a secret program by then Minister of Health Jenny Shipley to begin a defacto state euthanasia policy…

Back in the mid 1990s Jenny Shipley (then Minister of Health in the Bolger National Government) established a governmental body called the Core Health Services Committee (CHSC) which was chaired by former broadcaster Sharon Crosbie.

The CHSC was known to exist, but no one paid much attention to it, and also getting information out of it was problematic as it would cite commercial confidentiality as a reason for withholding information. So a lot of its work went under the radar.

Back then, National had created a commercial model that replaced health boards with Regional Funding Authorities (RHAs) and hospitals became Crown Health Enterprises. It wasn’t until 2000, that the new Helen Clark-led Labour-Alliance Government disestablished the RHAs and CHEs and reestablished publicly elected health boards, and, hospitals became public hospitals once again.

But back in the early to mid-1990s the Core Health Services Committee was accountable directly to the Minister of Health, Jenny Shipley, and was tasked with creating health funding frameworks, protocols, criteria that the then RHAs would rely upon when deciding what health services the government would pay Crown Health Enterprises (CHEs) for – when providing health ‘services’ to ‘clients’ (patients).

The Core Health Services Committee was tasked to evaluate a way of reducing the cost-burden on the Government for health services and come up with a set of criteria that CHEs and doctors would have to abide by when deciding which ‘clients’ (patients) would get treatment and, importantly, who would not.

In August 1994, I became aware that the Core Health Services Committee had been evaluating the most costly procedures, including renal dialysis treatment for people with end-stage renal failure. I was told by sources that the CHSC had drafted a document that included a framework for how expensive treatments would be handled, and that the Minister of Health had approved the plan.

Generally, there are two types of criteria:

inclusion – (meaning patients that met certain criteria would be eligible for treatment)

exclusion – (meaning those that could be labeled as possessing or exhibiting specific criteria would exclude then from being offered treatment.

In August 1994, I was leaked documents that displayed how the Minister had approved the CHSC protocols that used exclusion criteria and that the protocols had been presented to doctors and the exclusion criteria enforced.

What this meant was people who presented with end stage renal failure, and who required dialysis to stay alive, would be excluded from getting this life-saving treatment if they were deemed:

* to be blind

* to have an intellectual disability

* had a history of mental illness

* exhibited or expressed anti-social behaviour

* had a history of imprisonment

* had an unrelated health condition that may cause complications

* were over the age of 65-years…

The set of exclusion criteria continued on.

Without a public debate having ensured, CHE doctors were required to administer the changes and CHEs were required to report back to the RHAs with details on how the exclusion criteria was being applied.

Up until then, doctors and clinicians had decided on whether a patient would get dialysis treatment – the assessment was based on what health benefits a patient could expect, and were not required to consider exclusion criteria that were determined by the State.

The doctors silently rebelled and, as a journalist, as I mentioned above, I was leaked the CHSC protocols and exclusion criteria documents.

…the National Party were actively and secretly looking for ways to disqualify the sick and vulnerable from state health care. If they were prepared to do it when euthanasia was illegal in the 1990s, imagine how quickly they will begin to pressure hospitals to start euthanasia as a cost cutting measure if it becomes legal?

We know how poorly Corrections look after the welfare of prisoners. We know how badly CYFs looks after children in their care. We know how damaging Housing NZ, WINZ and the Ministry of Development treat beneficiaries.

So what would stop Government agencies applying the same disregard for the poor and sick if euthanasia is passed?

The demands of those too proud to die needing others, denial of our humility in death and a hard right Government who see euthanasia as a cost cutting mechanism are not good enough reasons to legalise euthanasia.

Mountain climbing lawyers might consider ending their life on their own terms a victory, but the real losers will be the poor and voiceless in state hospitals being pushed into ending their expensive treatment of a life.

14 COMMENTS

  1. So when I challenged ACT’s Gosman and See-More what was their Superannuation solution for those living below the breadline, there was a deathly silence. Your article above Martyn, filled in the missing pieces for me, since ACT is just National, without the guile and MSM manipulation.

    “…the National Party were actively and secretly looking for ways to disqualify the sick and vulnerable from state health care. If they were prepared to do it when euthanasia was illegal in the 1990s, imagine how quickly they will begin to pressure hospitals to start euthanasia as a cost cutting measure if it becomes legal?”

    I recall, way in the past, about a Maori man in New Zealand, whose dialysis was switched off and it took him about a week to ten days to die a horrible death. I have tried to find this reference, but the address link http://www.vdig.net/hansard/archive.jsp?y=2000&m=05&d=10&o=22&p=3, has been closed off to me I remember thinking at the time, is that what is in store for the poor in New ZEaland in the Brave New Neoliberal world of ACT?

    I’d appreciate knowing if anyone else remembers the dialysis machine being switched off some 20-25 years ago?

  2. ‘Yes but we aren’t animals are we. We are self-conscious free thinking human beings.’

    This misunderstanding of the nature of Homo sapiens and the nature of the society we live in leads to many misperceptions, misinterpretations and unrealistic expectations.

    Homo sapiens ARE animals, and it was only very recently (less than 200 years ago) that a tiny group abandoned the feeding and social systems that made Homo sapiens a very successful species over a period of more than 200,000 years, and adopted the unsustainable feeding and social systems that have made Homo sapiens the very unsuccessful species we see today.

    It was less than 300 years ago that the devices which doomed Homo sapiens overrun the planet and eventually destroy itself (along with most other vertebrate life forms) were invented. Homo sapiens is doomed to destroy itself within a few decades because industrial humans refuse to abandon the unsustainable industrial systems that are in the process of wrecking the life-support systems that permitted Homo sapiens to evolve in the first place.

    Contrary to the quoted assertion, the vast majority of Homo sapiens living in industrial societies are NOT self-conscious free thinking human beings: every action and thought of the majority has been pre-programmed by the ‘education system’ that indoctrinates the young into dysfunctional thinking and keeps them locked into it for life, and dysfunctional is reinforced 24/7 by the corporate-controlled mass media and even supposedly non-commercial RNZ.

    The truth, that present living arrangements, based on the burning of finite fossil fuels, are a very short-term gross aberration in the grand scheme of things and will vanish well before mid-century is unthinkable to the vast majority of human animals living in industrial societies.

    Needless to say, when the globalized industrial food system collapses, as it inevitably will, and when the planet is somewhat more overheated, as will inevitably happen, there will be mass starvation in industrial societies

    Martyn, you have better hope that the recently-released HSBC report on the future of oil that was highlighted by Nafeez Ahmed is completely wrong.

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/brace-for-the-financial-crash-of-2018-b2f81f85686b#.b55s6gjqw

    Because if it is right: ‘Headquarted in London, UK, HSBC is the world’s sixth largest bank, holding assets of $2.67 trillion. So when they produce a research report for their clients, we should listen,’ the mayhem will commence around 2020.

    If that report is correct it gives you about another 3 years to focus on the small pictures whilst ignoring the big ones.

    • Agree again. Keep up the good work. Please do not worry about sounding like a broken record because the truth needs to be shouted over and over to get through brick walls.
      The focus has got to be — not so much on the TWIGS — but on the FOREST ! ! !

      If we only have a few years left, should not our focus and priorities be on the broader picture and healing new ways. Here is a link to some great ideas for changing our future :

      https://www.thevenusproject.com/the-venus-project/research-center/

      Why – TDB – do you not take up the challenge to cover some of the more important issues, more severe and timely ? Also why not expose the crooks behind the curtain causing so much upheaval that I have written about ? Lets broaden our horizons and take up some of – AFEWKNOWTHETRUTH’s suggestions and mine and others.

      Clearly euthanasia has been abused and the vulnerable need protection. I also want to have no person and no law to come between me and my right to decide my time to die with dignity and clear conscience.

      https://www.verywell.com/arguments-in-favor-of-death-with-dignity-2614852

  3. +100…brilliant article!

    …already public hospitals are understaffed, overworked and underpaid….so the very elderly and the very vulnerable , and marginal are being shortchanged in terms of diagnosis and treatment ( they are ‘untreatable’ …ie ‘terminal’…this is the thin end of the wedge)

    just think how much it would save a fascist government to pressure to ‘euthanaise’ these people in terms of pensions and sickness benefits

    (…already this government denies New Zealanders medicinal cannabis when it is legal in Australia , Europe, many states in USA and pressure from MPs in Britain

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/30/medicinal-cannabis-crops-now-legal-in-australia

    http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2016/07/31/medicinal-cannabis-legal-nsw/

    http://medicalmarijuana.co.uk/

    https://www.pharmout.net/industry-solutions/medicinal-cannabis/?gclid=CMus_LeSwNECFUoKKgod-YEAYA

  4. what a brilliant idea…the over 65s who own most of the old established housing stock family homes in New Zealand …could consider euthanaisia to make available more housing to relieve the housing crisis

    …and provide more stock for speculators

  5. Totally agree Martyn – I wouldn’t trust anybody to be in control of legalised euthanasia – authority of any kind cannot do anything right now, god forbid, let alone be in charge/control of living or dying. I have always thought, if one is so determined to die, suicide is always there for them. I think personally it is a hell of a cheek to expect doctors to do their job for them. Who do these people think they are. If they are forewarned as is usually the case with mortal illness, then they have plenty of time to think about how to do it and then execute the deed when the time is right. Classic case of me, me and more me and passing the abhorrent job onto somebody else to do.

    I have sat with many dying in my life, its part of living and we all had better get used to it – no easy road for any of us but it doesn’t have to be a terrible time. The one time in our adult lives we have to relinquish control of our destinies and trust others to care for us – what is so wrong with that – the pro -euthanasia enthusiasts need to get over themselves and grow up.

  6. “I say that those NZers would quickly change their mind if they read this.”

    No, my mind unchanged.

    My particular reason: if, in old age (well, older than now), I were to dement, then I’m not me any more; just an unknowing,incontinent, corporeal husk. Not an outlook I would be prepared up with which to put.

    If death beckons, let the old man’s friend in; not the tubes and needles and cardioverters of the intensive care.

    That’s me (and quite a few others). To each their own view.

    • And who decides that you are “too demented”, Tom? Who gets to decide that you have passed this magical point of no return? If you think it will be you, you are naive.

      Ultimately, those who decide that it’s time to die have options. But for those who are coerced, death is an irreversible “operation”.

  7. Make no mistake, if this goes through, people will be terminated against their will, or convinced that termination is the best option when there were pathways for recovery available. There are Doctors out there itching to “make a killing” off of this.

    “Dutch woman in her twenties, sexual abuse victim, ends life under euthanasia”:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3583783/Sex-abuse-victim-20s-allowed-choose-euthanasia-Holland-doctors-decided-post-traumatic-stress-conditions-uncurable.html

  8. Members of the mob committed to denying assistance to people needing relief from unbearable pain usually maintain there is a massive conspiracy by another mob (one to which to which I supposedly belong) to undermine the authority they and their pet doctors have obtained; they also assert that patients who moan about pain and discomfort are just cry-babies, as they can provide adequate relief to any patient willing to trust them! I’d like to see some honesty here! It is evident from their massive propaganda machine (see above) they are the conspirators – and members of the crowd attempting to make euthanasia an option obviously have trouble getting their act together! Many of us have shared the agony of friends and relatives and want to offer a humane option; certainly, we don’t believe it proper to allow any section of society (conspirators!) impose an outcome on sufferers!

    • My point is, Gordon, you cannot guarantee an absence of coercion or mis-use of this power. And if you know anything at all about medicine, it’s that ethical violations are chronic within the industry.

      The pro-euthanasia argument you’re positing is the equivalent of saying, “We want to give police officers guns. They will only use them when necessary, honest.” Well, history – and the present – shows us that that doesn’t work out so well.

    • pain relief is one thing …assisted death is another…in many cases pain relief provided by BIG PHARMA has side effects which can and will lead to death if not dementia type symptoms ( unlike medicinal cannabis)

      while people committing suicide if they are terminally ill or impaired in life quality should never be condemned…getting doctors in on the act is another thing imo

      …and I used to be a pro euthanasia but have been persuaded by Bradbury’s arguments and others

  9. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/19/if-you-were-an-elephant-

    My mum was diagnosed with ‘ terminal cancer’ and was given twelve months to live. Just enough time for me to learn that twelve months was long enough to endure to watch someone I love rot quietly away.
    When she closed in on her death time she was in terrible pain and as the rotting increased, her dignity was being compromised also.
    Then, in came the beautiful people who, in three days, sent her on her way with ever increasing over doses of morphine over a three day period.
    What you say here, these insensitive things , are wrong.
    My mum would have taken the RED pill and her year of horrible suffering would have been something we’d not have had to endure.

    Animals, that is non human types, have hearts, minds and spirits too. You’re wrong about that also. But that’s ok xx We’re only human.
    Love you man. And fuck jenny shipely.

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