Tagged: voluntary euthanasia

I steal your questions, part 2

A continuation of yesterday’s post, wherein I appropriate the labour of Young Labour to comment on the Old Labour leader candidates.

Would you vote for the End of Life Choice Bill? (Euthanasia)

Robertson:  Yes

Well, that clears that up.

Cunliffe:  Yes it is my intention to do so, but I want to check that sufficient protections are in place.

Basic political answer for the issue.

Jones:  Highly unlikely.

And Jones immediately shatters his straight-talking stance, inasmuch as he had one, by dodging a pretty simple yes/no question.  Of course, it all makes sense if you add “unless Sealord makes it worth my while” at the end of everything he says.

Will you commit to a universal student allowance?

 Cunliffe:  I really think we need to improve the financial support and structures for students.  I can’t make a commitment to a universal allowance until we’ve crunched the numbers – but it’s something I want to strive for.  I am committed to extending eligibility for the allowance.

Jones:  I will, subject to fiscal resource, deliver a universal student allowance system.

Robertson:  Question is not if, but when.  One of the things I am proud to have been part of was the interest free student loan system.  I have always been committed to making study more accessible.

They’re all pretty much the same – no one’s saying “yes, 100%, in the first 100 days we’ll get it sorted”.

What I will be picky about?  Is Robertson being proud about merely ameliorating the shittiness of student loans by making them interest-free.  Those who studied while interest was being applied?  Still have to pay that interest back.  And we now live in a country where there’s a new “being a grown-up” milestone:  the milestone of getting the first paycheck after you’ve paid off your loan.

If you ever pay it off, of course.  It’ll take you longer if you’re a woman.  And we know that social and educational outcomes for children are on average a lot better if their mothers have higher education.

Meanwhile people wring their hands about why younger people aren’t able to afford first homes …

2016: Clinton or Biden?

All:  Clinton

Boy, that sure tells us a lot about them.

What policies will set you aside from the Clark era?

 Cunliffe:  Helen’s great achievement was putting the brakes on the neo-liberal experiment and putting people and social justice back into politics.  The role of a government I lead would be to really move forward on making fundamental changes to our economy based on the traditional Labour Party principles of fairness and social justice.

Jones:  I will alter the tax system to reward investment and jobs in the regions.

Robertson:  I am proud of what the Clark government achieved.  But the economic framework of that time needs to change.  This means a government that is more hands on in creating jobs and policies like a capital gains tax.  The era of light handed regulation is also over if we are to have safe workplaces.

Cunliffe and Robertson both try to have it both ways, praising Clark yet criticising.  Jones … again, I just can’t tell if he’s meaning to sound as snarky as he does (just add “unlike SOME governments” at the end to see what I mean) or if he’s just not much of a thinker or if he’s just that straight up-and-down (insert porn joke here).

Palliative medicine needs better PR people. Also a soul.


Per my last post on the topic, the palliative care lobby seriously need to take care that they don’t sound like a bunch of smarmy, controlling, judgey know-it-alls who get off on being such Angels of Mercy to their tragic, faceless-yet-persevering patients.

Step one would involve not issuing media release like this one, in which the Australia and NZ Society for Palliative Medicine pat themselves on the back for ignoring patients’ wishes and deciding they can judge the value, dignity and joy of a person’s life better than that person can.

ANZSPM recommends that a request for euthanasia or assisted suicide be acknowledged with respect and be extensively explored in order to understand, appropriately address and if possible remedy the underlying difficulties that gave rise to the request. Appropriate ongoing care consistent with the goals of Palliative Medicine should continue to be offered. ANZSPM recommends that when requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide arise, particular attention be given to gaining good symptom control, utilising the skills of a multidisciplinary team.

Shorter ANZSPM:  Patients don’t know what’s best for them, we do.  Patients can’t make choices about whether their symptoms are unbearable, we can (and symptoms are never actually unbearable).  Favourite bit:  “appropriately address and if possible remedy the underlying difficulties that gave rise to the request”.

Because you know, doctors in the palliative medicine arena frequently don’t actually provide the best treatment possible upfront – they need a patient to express a clear wish to die before they’ll actually “remedy” the “underlying difficulties” of dying slowly and painfully in a state which offers no comfort or dignity.

I mean, that’s the only logical interpretation of that statement, since acknowledging that sometimes some situations are so goddamn hard that you cannot fix them would be anathema to these loving, compassionate people.

And let’s not forget the pointless circular logic of the first paragraph:

the patients we care for with multiple sclerosis do not have their lives ended prematurely and do not request this.

Yes, because when your physician is a rabid “you’ll have a poignant long-suffering death and you’ll like it, peon” zealot, I’m sure they’re the one you’d turn to for help.  When they believe that the time you choose to die is by definition “premature” you’re totally going to make your life even worse by inciting a badgering, bullying lecture about how you need to harden up (oh, sorry, an interrogation extensive exploration of why you want to die, because as your doctor they can’t be expected to have a clue how you’re doing.)

As I said previously, if palliative care is the choice you make when dealing with illness, good for you.  We should have doctors who are willing to work in what is undoubtedly a stressful and emotionally draining environment to provide the best possible care to people.

We shouldn’t have doctors who are so up themselves that they think it’s morally okay to force someone to undergo suffering against their will – all because Doctor Knows Best.


I saw a poster as I was walking the streets of Wellington this week – a quote from someone in palliative care defining euthanasia, where the words “killing a person” were bolded – the point of course being that euthanasia is KILLING, with the subtext that voluntary euthanasia supporters pretend it isn’t so.

Well, I have no problem with that basic statement:  of course voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide involves one person killing another person – or at the very least, doing what the dying person cannot physically do for themselves.

What struck me, though, is how the anti-euthanasia lobby – who always set up palliative care like it’s some blessed utopia where there is no suffering, merely a soft-focus Hallmark-card fading away into peaceful slumber eternal – just talk about KILLING KILLING KILLING as though there’s no context, no individual differences of opinion or viewpoint, no harsh medical realities in which some people can, of their own free will, weigh up continued existence vs. release from whatever is ailing them and find on either side.

What struck me is how, amidst the usual talk of “not playing God” which comes up during the euthanasia debate, the doctors who oppose it never deny having the power of life or death – obviously they have access to whatever might be needed to play God any time they feel like it.

They just want to enjoy having it and denying the use of it.

Yes, I know, I’m being harsh.  But I feel fucking harsh when a bunch of medical practitioners, people sworn to do no harm etc, want to sit back and go “fuck your pain.  Fuck your situation.  Fuck your mental anguish in the face of inevitable agonising decline.  We know better than you.  We get to decide if your life has dignity.  And we get to make that decision even for the doctors who aren’t a bunch of judgemental authoritarian wanks.”

The poster said it all:  euthanasia is about killing a person, no more, no less.  There wasn’t room to mention how many people who are so killed are in terrible unending pain and wish to end it.  There wasn’t space to fit in any explanation about how many of the people who are so killed literally cannot carry out their own wishes, nor can their loved ones give them the mercy they have clearly, definitively expressed a wish for.

Yes, there are obvious issues with implementing voluntary euthanasia, there are balances to be made between respecting people’s wishes and ensuring those wishes aren’t manipulated or coerced.  But that doesn’t change the fact that, besides killing a person, the push for voluntary euthanasia / assisted suicide comes from giving a shit about what those people want.

Blunt time again:  maybe some of the spokespeople for palliative care should be a little bit cautious.  Because with more posters like that one around, they might just start coming off like people with control issues and a Munchausen’s-by-proxy-esque fetish for glamorizing themselves through other people’s suffering.

Just saying.


Of course, there are many people who choose to go into palliative care, who decide that that is the way they want to live out their last days.  Good for them.

NZ politicians: It gets worse

Andrea Vance has an article on Stuff about the Forbidden subjects in New Zealand politics – euthanasia, gay adoption, and abortion rights.

These are three issues where I truly feel change is inevitable.  We will have voluntary euthanasia, we will allow loving, committed couples who just happen to have similar sets of junk to adopt and raise kids, and we will, as god is my witness etc, have legal, safe, accessible abortion on demand in this damn country.

And I know that one day, I’m going to have to explain to my children or grandchildren that yes, Grandma Ranty can still remember when male political leaders got to dodge debates about pregnant people’s basic rights by shrugging and saying “Oh, I haven’t given it much thought.

But right now, all I can do for those in Parliament who want to ignore these issues because Bob McCoskrie’s penis might get angry at them is remind them of this:

It gets worse.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
It Gets Worse PSA
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Death with dignity

NRT reports that “death with dignity” / assisted suicide / voluntary euthanasia is back on the cards in Parliament.


If you’ve spent five minutes on this blog you’ll probably have picked up that I am rabidly prochoice, and that my prochoiceness rests on an unshakeable belief in the right to bodily autonomy.  Unlike your standard anti-choice but pro-war/pro-death penalty US fundy (it’d be a strawman argument if I hadn’t met so many) I have some honest-to-goodness consistency in my beliefs.  And I firmly believe that people have the right to choose when they die.  The fact that we even have to argue this in the face of the usual terminal illness/degenerative disease exemplars, when people want to go out on their own terms and as themselves and not fade away unconscious or unthinking or unable to live with any kind of meaning …

Yeah, suffice it to say I’m in favour.

And so’s this man, who’s far more intelligent and eloquent than me, so if you won’t listen to me you might like to listen to him.