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23 December 2015

Seales' Husband Welcomes New Palliative Care Guidelines

Media Release
Lecretia's Choice
23 December 2015
For Immediate Release

Matt Vickers, widower of the late Lecretia Seales, has concurred with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and welcomed Te Ara Whakapiri: Principles and Guidance for the Last Days of Life, which was published by the Ministry of Health on Monday. He also expressed admiration for the government’s $76m in funding for palliative care in the 2015 budget.  But he has warned that neither of these initiatives address all end-of-life issues.

Mr Vickers said: “In Seales v Attorney General, Justice Collins ruled that palliative care can not help all dying patients. Both the plaintiff and defendant’s witnesses in the case were agreed on this, some of whom appear as authors of Te Ara Whakapiri. There are a few for whom palliative care will be of little or no benefit. Assisted dying legislation would complement palliative care, so that those that cannot be helped by it have better options than starving to death or being terminally sedated to avoid pain.”

“It’s those that palliative care can help the least that need assisted dying legislation the most.”

Mr Vickers said: “It is good that the Health Select Committee is investigating end of life issues, because Lecretia’s case raised an important question: what do we do for those patients that palliative care can’t help? What choices are they entitled to? Those questions are not answered by these guidelines. But those questions deserve answers.”

Ends

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19 December 2015

Lecretia Seales named New Zealander of the Year

From the New Zealand Herald:

"Lecretia Seales is our New Zealander of the Year because of what she did in the last act of her life. She was a private person who stepped into the limelight to ask the courts to give her the right to die. She has gone now but may have left her legacy.

"Where does her story begin? In March, dying of brain cancer, Seales asked the High Court to give her the legal right for a doctor to help end her life. She wanted the right to choose to not die a painful death. On June 5, soon after being told that her court bid was unsuccessful, Seales died of her illness. She was 42." More... (NZ Herald)

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11 December 2015

Quebec's assisted dying law comes into effect today

Patients near the end of their lives can now have access to medical aid in dying in Quebec. The Canadian province's end-of-life care bill, which was adopted in the National Assembly in June 2014, went into effect at midnight. But the issue remains contested, with a Court of Appeal ruling due next week. More... (CBC News)

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16 October 2015

NBR poll strongly favours Assisted Dying

NBR member subscribers have shown strong support for David Seymour’s assisted dying Bill.  In the NBR poll, 68% of respondents were in favour of the Bill, 18% were against, 7% were neutral and 7% were unsure about it.  These results were similar to the commissioned poll from Curia, of 2,800 people, which showed 66% in favour of assisted dying, 20% against, and 11% neutral. More... (NBR)

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15 October 2015

Key backing gives boost to euthanasia bill

A push to legalise voluntary euthanasia has been boosted by the Prime Minister's endorsement.

John Key said he would support a new member's bill lodged by Act leader David Seymour yesterday if it was drawn from the ballot. "In all probability if it's drawn I will vote for it," he said.

The Government would not pick up the bill, meaning it could be years before it comes before Parliament. But Mr Key's endorsement could play an important role in changing minds on the contentious issue. More... (The New Zealand Herald)

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14 October 2015

Lecretia's Choice team reacts to David Seymour's Bill

In a press conference earlier today a new Assisted Dying Bill was launched by ACT Party Leader David Seymour. The Bill will likely be submitted into the parliamentary ballot on Thursday. Mr Seymour announced he would be drafting a bill shortly after the judgment was released in June at the conclusion of Seales v Attorney General, where Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales went to the High Court of New Zealand in an attempt to secure a decision that would not make it a prosecutable offence for her doctor to help her to die, with her consent.

In response to the Bill, Mr Vickers, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former employer and friend of Ms Seales, and Andrew Butler of Russell McVeagh (lead counsel for Ms Seales in her High Court challenge) said: "We commend the Hon David Seymour for his efforts and the progress he has made on this important cross-party issue. Although Lecretia chose not to align herself with any one political party, she would have supported a serious effort by any parliamentary member to improve the current law. David Seymour's bill is appropriately narrow, has substantial merit and we wish it well.  We also look forward to the report of the Select Committee which is currently considering this issue, and we continue to support that process too."

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14 October 2015

Voluntary Euthanasia Society reacts to David Seymour’s Bill

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand welcomed David Seymour’s Bill as providing “some momentum towards a law change” but it does not go far enough, President Jack Havill said Wednesday.

“Allowing people with terminal illnesses and unbearable suffering to end their own lives in a manner and at a time of their choosing would be a very popular measure, judging by every available poll, and it seems to be only MPs who are holding it back,” Dr Havill said.

“So we congratulate David Seymour for being prepared to submit another bill to Parliament, even though we would have liked to see some provision for End-of-Life Directives, which could ensure people’s verified wishes for their manner of dying are observed, after they have ceased to be able to argue the point with a doctor.

"In the absence of any other bill on this matter however, we give our support to his efforts and will present a comprehensive submission on it should it be drawn from the Parliamentary ballot.”

Dr Havill said VESNZ would be happy for the Select Health Committee to consider Seymour’s bill in parallel with its current enquiry into public attitudes on the issue.

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14 October 2015

Seymour lodges assisted dying Bill

David Seymour, MP for Epsom, has lodged a Bill on assisted dying in Parliament’s Members’ ballot today.

“The End of Life Choice Bill is a response to the anguish faced by a small but significant minority of people with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill, as they anticipate the prospect of intolerable suffering and the indignity of the final few days and weeks of their lives,” said Mr Seymour.

“The motivation for this Bill is compassion. It allows people who so choose and are eligible under this Bill to end their life in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.

“The Bill carefully defines those eligible for assisted dying. It details a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure this is a free choice made without coercion, and outlines a stringent series of steps to ensure the person is mentally capable of understanding the nature and consequences of assisted dying.

“It is evident from polls that a substantial majority of the public want Parliamentarians to consider assisted dying legislation.

“In fact, an independent poll of 2,800 people which I have commissioned on this issue shows 66% of the public favour allowing assisted dying – 38% strongly in favour – and 20% oppose. Support is remarkably steady across age groups, rural and urban areas, and genders.

“This should give a clear message to Parliamentarians that the public wants this issue addressed. If this Bill is drawn, I hope MPs will support it through its First Reading, so the many complex issues can be considered through the select committee process.”

David Seymour has also launched a website which will act as an information source and campaign hub, at www.lifechoice.org.nz. The Bill can be viewed here. Polling data from Curia can be read here.

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05 October 2015

California Governor Signs Right-to-Die Legislation

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday he signed one of the most emotionally charged bills of the year. Brown, a lifelong Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, announced he signed the legislation after thoroughly considering all opinions and discussing the issue with many people, including a Catholic bishop and two of Brown's doctors. "In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death," the governor wrote in a signing statement that accompanied his signature on the legislation. "I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill.” He added he wouldn't deny that right to others More... (ABC News)

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