Articles & Links


End of Life Choice Bill
View or download the Bill here.

Supreme Court of Canada
View or download a summary of the judgement by the Supreme Court of Canada here, or the full and very detailed judgment here.

Lecretia Seales – A press conference statement from her husband Matt Vickers (5 June)
"The judgment has starkly highlighted that the status quo is far from ideal; that people are at risk of intolerable suffering and are at risk of ending their lives earlier than they would otherwise. Although we did not get the rulings we sought, the judgment is very clear: the law as it is, is paternalistic, overly-protective and rooted in the past. It is not the law as it ought to be." More… (Lecretia.org)

Lecretia Seales – the judgement in full
An NZ Herald account of the Lecretia Seales case, where she had sought a High Court ruling to allow her doctor to help her die without criminal prosecution. “Justice David Collins released his judgment at 3pm. It rejected Ms Seales' bid and said only Parliament could give her what she wanted. ‘The complex legal, philosophical, moral and clinical issues raised by Ms Seales' proceedings can only be addressed by Parliament passing legislation to amend the effect of the Crimes Act. Although Ms Seales has not obtained the outcomes she sought, she has selflessly provided a forum to clarify important aspects of New Zealand law.’” The report contains a link to the transcript of the judgement. More... (The New Zealand Herald) 

My Right to Die: Assisted dying, my family, and me
Kevin Drum explains the progress of legalisation efforts in the USA, including the central arguments of critics. The piece is bookended with his personal experiences surrounding end-of-life issues. Read the article here. (Mother Jones)

Lecretia Seales – a powerful legacy of evidence
A review from The Listener of the decision by Justice Collins in the High Court, on Lecretia’s application for assisted dying. This review focuses on the contest of opinion by expert witnesses concerning palliative care. “The published literature from pain and palliative care societies confirmed that severe uncontrolled pain occurs for a small number of patients, for whom it “dominates their whole existence”. An American Cancer Society paper said 90% of patients could have their pain relieved with “optimal treatment” – leaving 10% whose pain could not be controlled.” More... (The New Zealand Listener)

Dr Rodney Syme on Palliative Care issues
A sobering account of palliative care issues, palliative sedation and assisted dying, by retired Australian surgeon, Dr Rodney Syme. “Some people listening to me may think I am violently opposed to palliative care. Not so. I support the open and frank communication between dying patient and doctor, of supporting your patient to go as far with their life as possible, and encouraging the acceptance of the reality of dying, the maximal relief of pain and suffering, giving them a sense of control over the end of their lives, respect for patient autonomy and encouraging dialogue between dying patient and family with the important object of allowing them to say goodbye – all good palliative principles. But I do not accept the rigid imposition of a particular model of care, and a limited choice at the end of life which condemns some people to die in a way that is anathema to them, in order to satisfy the moral view of their doctor.” More... (Sydney Morning Herald)

UK Hospice CEO says the sector must accept assisted dying
“I am a chief executive of a hospice and I believe that those with a terminal illness should be allowed to die when, or if, they choose to. I support new legislation concerning assisted dying – not instead of good hospice and palliative care, but as well as. I don’t believe I’m alone in the hospice world in supporting a change in the law ... but you’ll struggle to find someone in my role willing to say it publicly.” More... (The Guardian)

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, changes his mind
“So what has led me to change my mind so that today I am persuaded – as a Christian – that the time has come to find a way to give terminally ill people a degree of choice over their end-of-life treatment, and request the help of physicians to allow them to die in peace and dignity? The downside of the great achievements of medical science and palliative medicine is that many also find living longer more distressing – with pain and indignity their daily companion…..In difficult ethical matters I often find myself asking: ‘What would Jesus do?’ I think I know what he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t say: ‘There, there. Pain is good for you. Take it like a man or a woman.’ No, I think he would expect us in these modern times, with all the skills that doctors have, to tend the very vulnerable at the end of life and help them cross into the place of peace that they are craving.” More... (The Daily Mail)

Canon Rosie Harper, vicar of Great Missenden and chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham
A leading woman priest in the Church of England has spoken out in favour changing the law to allow assisted dying. She described the assisted death of her uncle with Dignitas in Switzerland. "My uncle had a beautiful death, with his family around him - good music, good wine, and a pain-free end. The days that would have followed as he struggled through the end stage of a brain tumour would have been terrible. He had no choice about dying. He did have choice about the manner of his death. That's all this bill is offering." More... (Christian Today)

How Doctors Die
“It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.” More... (Saturday Evening Post)

A comprehensive survey of assisted dying issues by the Economist magazine
A comprehensive survey of assisted dying issues by The Economist magazine. “For some, the argument is moral and absolute. Deliberately ending a human life is wrong, because life is sacred and the endurance of suffering confers its own dignity. For others, the legalisation of doctor-assisted dying is the first step on a slippery slope where the vulnerable are threatened and where premature death becomes a cheap alternative to palliative care. These views are deeply held and deserve to be taken seriously. But liberty and autonomy are sources of human dignity, too. Both add to the value of a life. In a secular society, it is odd to buttress the sanctity of life in the abstract by subjecting a lot of particular lives to unbearable pain, misery and suffering. And evidence from places that have allowed assisted dying suggests that there is no slippery slope towards widespread euthanasia. In fact, the evidence leads to the conclusion that most of the schemes for assisted dying
should be bolder.” More... (The Economist)

Dr John Pollock
A terminally-ill Auckland doctor wrote to the New Zealand Doctor magazine arguing for the legalisation of euthanasia in New Zealand. More… (The New Zealand Herald)

Too hot to Handle
A comprehensive North & South article (from January 2014) on legalisation efforts in NZ and globally. And a personal story from an Auckland GP suffering at the time from terminal cancer: “There are several scenarios which I would find intolerable and should be able to opt out of but for our old-fashioned, ill-thought-out, cruel laws which force me to suffer to the end or kill myself.” More... (North & South)

Voluntary Euthanasia - Speech to Australian House of Representatives
Australian Labour MP Andrew Leigh calls for debate on voluntary euthanasia, and delves into overseas policy experience and changing attitudes. “The Dutch case is important because they consciously decided to regulate instead of turning a blind eye to doctors prescribing or discreetly providing lethal medicine to the terminally ill. Doctors in the Netherlands can opt out of this as they choose. It is the case in the Netherlands, as in Oregon, that terminally ill cancer patients make up most of those who seek out euthanasia.” More... (Andrew Leigh MP)

Choosing to die - The Netherlands' euthanasia debate
A balanced account of some international experience, in particular the concerns many of us have about the Dutch experience. It is why our End of Life Choice Bill is so careful to have tight eligibility criteria, focused on terminal illness and grievous and irremediable medical conditions, together with stringent checks and balances. The Bill includes a full review of the operation of the Act after three years, with five-year reviews thereafter. More... (Newsweek)

The Brittany Maynard effect: How she is changing the debate on assisted dying
A personal perspective on US death with dignity campaigns, with particular reference to Oregon. “This is not primarily about physicians or their self-image; it's about patients - specifically patients for whom healing is not longer possible.” More... (The Washington Post)