Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why This Government Urgently Needs to Pick Up Maryan Street’s Euthanasia Bill.


The answer to my question posed in the title is because self-determination of the manner and means of one's death is an individual’s basic right. But unfortunately politicians follow a dreadful pragmatism, rather than a principled view toward our freedom, so let me provide it.


The most important debate to be had over the next three years in the pursuit of individual liberty was Labour MP Maryan Street’s Dying with Dignity euthanasia bill. I am gutted that Maryan did not get back in last night as that means her bill is dead, with little likelihood the social conservatives in National will look at opening this essential debate. In a time when the Chief Coroner is trying to change the death certification process in order to catch out humane doctors over-prescribing pain medication to bring on early death in judged circumstances, this issue becomes urgent.

In this post and this post to Dr. Mark Peterson, Chair of the New Zealand Medical Association, I explained how the NZMA’s position against euthanasia is based upon a contradiction, or a conceit, rather, and as such, is an irresponsible, dangerous (for doctors and patients), ethical mess. That contradiction is NZMA opposing legal euthanasia, yet with that stance ‘justified’ by dint of the back-street provision they cite of it being ethical for doctors over-prescribing pain killers to keep pain at bay, even if to an extent that might hasten death, despite no threshold or certainty is provided as to what 'over-prescribe' or 'hasten' means. Incredibly on an official level it's the ‘we don’t need euthanasia legalised because it already unofficially occurs’ nonsense. This stance also draws the inference, repugnant to myself, that it's Dr. Peterson and his colleagues who know best and get to decide the circumstances of a death; that the decision over a dignified exit is not up to those dying.

Such a mealy mouthed wording, and professional arrogance, in a matter that concerns all of us at the most poignant part of our lives, dying, is as offensive as it is preposterous. Especially in light of the fact such over-prescription is set to be denied doctors by our Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, who wants to change the death certification process so that doctors doing precisely this are found out, presumably to face the full force of the law. This carries two cruel consequences: first, those humane mercy releases that do now occur under compassionate doctors in hospices and hospitals will stop; second, pain remediation regimes for the terminally ill will become more conservative, which only means one thing; more pain for the terminally ill.

Forget the ethical and philosophical issues here, this is intolerable and needs fixing by this government as their first item of business; and I repeat by the government, not by private members bill with that insane lottery known as the ballot, but by means of responsible government legislating an essential freedom that should by right be available to all, just as it is in many Western jurisdictions.

Dr Peterson never replied to my second email pointing out the consequences of the Chief Coroner’s current course, and I put it to him, here, that if the haughty NZMA were to poll its members, as their UK equivalent did, I’m sure they would find also their doctors would come to the same majority decision that such a basic freedom is up to we individuals of society, not the medical profession: at the very least, the NZMA should butt out. (And noting that the basic freedom of dying with dignity should never be up to a majority vote:  human rights don’t work like that, for they are inalienable.)

If I can’t convince this National government in this, then if the MPs care to take six lousy minutes of their time, perhaps 29 year old Brittany Maynard can. Brittany has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, and has moved to one of the five American states that allow assisted suicide so that she can die with dignity, in the arms of her husband and mother, on 1 November coming. There is nothing more important this government can do over the next three years, than pass legislation under which the terminally ill in New Zealand can have the same chance at dignity, and a death without suffering, moreover, death on their own terms; please, show some humanity.

"I can't tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don't have to die the way that I have been told that my brain tumour will take me on my own," Maynard said in the video.

"I will die upstairs in my bedroom that I share with my husband, with my mother and my husband by my side and pass peacefully with some music that I like in the background," she said.






Update 1:

Brittany Maynard, subject of the above Youtube clip, and who plans to take her life in three days time, has ticked the last item off her bucket list.

Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life, has checked the last item off her bucket list.

She visited the Grand Canyon last week.

"The Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful," she wrote on her website, "and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature."


Photos showed her and her husband standing on the edge of the canyon, hugging and kissing.


But her cancer reasserted itself.


"Severe headaches and neck pain are never far away, and unfortunately the next morning I had my worst seizure thus far," she wrote on her website. "My speech was paralyzed for quite a while after I regained consciousness, and the feeling of fatigue continued for the rest of the day."


Maynard, 29, had been married a year when she discovered she had an aggressive brain cancer.


Last April, doctors said she had six months to live. She considered dying in a hospice, she wrote in an op-ed piece for CNN.


"I quickly decided that death with dignity was the best option for me and my family," she wrote for CNN. "We had to uproot from California to Oregon, because Oregon is one of only five states where death with dignity is authorized."

We need civilised euthanasia law in New Zealand, and given the reasoning in my post above, such legislation is urgent. I have twice tweeted a link to this post to Justice Minister Amy Adams, with no response. Next week I will be turning this into letter format and emailing the minister: if she plans to do nothing, then she at least owes it to us to explain why.


Final Update.

Brittany took the assisted dying - it's not suicide, outside her illness she wanted to live - option over the weekend. Her obituary reads she had 'died as she intended - peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.'

Compare that to how Rosemary Mott died in New Zealand. Struggling for breath her head in a plastic bag, alone, her husband having to leave the house so he would not face criminal prosecution.

One death how it should be, peaceful, on respondents own terms, dying with her loved ones. The other barbaric in every respect of that word, given no civilised euthanasia law in New Zealand.

That comparison is the end of the argument. Why can I not get a single National MP to even acknowledge this post on the need for urgency here?


21 comments:

  1. Good post, Mark.

    There is a fundamental evil in the world and it is the belief that the worth of your life is measured by your value to others rather than to yourself. The doctor who believes only he has the right to decide whether you should live or die with a hideous disease is actually no different than the ISIS fighter who thinks it is his right to decide whether you should live or die depending on whether you adhere to his religious faith. They believe it is their judgement and values that matter, not yours. This belief is the moral abyss from which all other evil derives.

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    1. Cheers Kiwiwit, and yes, I agree.

      And then add to that the billboard Ricky Gervais tweeted last week from a Christian group saying 'suffering allowed one to share in the passion of God, and euthanasia denied that to those suffering.'

      The religious: they're batshit crazy, but still hold sway in important areas of our lives such as this. The Enlightenment seems to have completely passed them by.

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    2. Actually, better make a couple of qualifications to my comment. The three wise men at Eternal Vigilance, who are Christian, I seem to remember support euthanasia. (Mind you, that's because pot reduces the noise :) )

      And I wasn't having a dig at you Brendan, who often reads this blog.

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    3. If being religious was required to support euthanasia surely it would have been legalised in NZ by now.

      I don't know about Brendan but I don't use pot.

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    4. I was talking about the other two Eternal Vigilance bloggers.

      Re your first sentence, no, my point is religion is 'generally' a block to a civilised euthanasia legislation.

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    5. I've heard the "sanctity of life" argument used by Christians but its not scriptural or reasonable. And if "religion" was really influential in politics then abortion wouldn't be happening. I know one Christian that has aided euthanasia but I don't personally know Christians that oppose euthanasia.

      I don't think religion can be blamed for he current state of law.

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  2. Mark, don't you know that everything government touches turns to crap? Do you really want our political masters regulating our end of life choices and issuing End of Life Directives?

    I think I'd prefer to see mercy killing made a complete defence to the crime of homicide and let loving family members persuade sympathetic judges on a case by case basis that the conditions proposed in Street's draft bill had indeed been met.

    That said, I can't actually find any significant point(s) of disagreement with anything in your very well presented post. :-)

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    1. Cheers Richard.

      Your second paragraph interesting, but laden with problems if remaining family members are in disagreement. The manner/timing/circumstance of death is the sole province of the one who is dying, and the role of (small) state is to allow for such basic, individual rights, that their wishes are primary.

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    2. A dying person may be unable to indicate their desires but a caring person who kills them out of mercy should not suffer punishment.

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    3. Definitely Reed. Which is all the more why we have to have legal euthanasia given the Chief Coroner's actions (who is just taking current law logically to its cruel outcomes; it's the NZMA contradiction that is the initial problem here.)

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  3. "...it is the belief that the worth of your life is measured by your value to others rather than to yourself."

    The flip side to that is that the others may see the value that you, in your distress, has lost sight of. I'll put down a cat because its a cat but doing that to a family member is a lot more serious. I guess I'm batshit crazy.

    3:16

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    1. But you still don't get a say in another individual's wish for voluntary euthanasia: the decision is solely theirs. And one of the worse things about no legalised euthanasia concerns family and loved ones: it means they cannot be present for the death, you have to send them shopping or to stand on the sidewalk so they won't face criminal prosecution, while you kill yourself, per too many past cases in NZ - because many choose this option despite our cruel laws - with a barbaric method such as a plastic bag over your head, and completely alone.

      Euthanasia is a basic right; there's no argument against that.

      Legalised euthanasia is compassionate, lack of such laws is barbaric.

      Questions:

      Do you agree with the current mercy releases as 'probably' practised in our hospitals unofficially?

      What is your opinion of the chief Coroners actions to ensure this can't happen (and which will ensure conservative pain remediation regimes, thus more pain)?

      Finally, regarding Brittany Maynard, do you believe the state should stop her voluntary euthanasia on 1 November, against her wishes, so she is forced to suffer what for her are the intolerable affects of dying by her brain tumour?

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    2. “And I wasn't having a dig at you Brendan, who often reads this blog.”
      Chuckle * - that’s very sensitive of you Mark ☺

      Actually, I don’t mind if you have a dig at me, plenty of others enjoy the privilage from time to time, and I’m still relatively sane or completely loony (take your pick).

      I get the libertarian argument on this issue. I’m personally uncomfortable with the risk, and I see now that Belgium has extended this ‘last right’ to children. Furthermore there are five people euthenased there every day, a 27% increase on last year.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2641773/Five-people-killed-EVERY-DAY-assisted-suicide-Belgium-euthanasia-cases-soar-27-cent-year-alone.html

      I note that the former Arch Bishop of Canterbury Lord Cary whose opinion I do respect has moved to support euthanasia. I’m personally not there yet, but who knows, perhaps ones view change as you get older….

      Theologically it’s difficult to justify, and that’s where I am at present. Good to have the debate though.

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  4. Questions:

    1. Yes on the basis its a final pain killer as part of a medicinal process as opposed to a deliberate killing to get off early for golf or such like. You assume that families will always do what's best for their rich nearest and dearest but I know they don't.

    2. The coroner is a civil servant so is best ignored.

    3. If she wants to end her life let her take it - its hers to take. The state has no part in that and the "blame" is hers as opposed to someone else's. If men have nightmares over the killing of their enemies I'm not sure I can be comfortable with this being made easy.

    I can see her point but come back to the point that this should be a most reluctant and rare choice. Once legal it will, as we have seen elsewhere, become a matter of convenience. I think the life of those I love is valuable and will confess that, to my eternal shame, when my father needed me toward the end I was torn between KPI's and being with him at a crucial time. He knew he wasn't well but I didn't and I declined his suggestion I stay a few days. I can't undo that but contemplate every day what an arsehole looks like when I look in the mirror. Catching up before he died (at home) didn't undo this sense of shame.

    I'm religious but the concept of hell and all that stuff doesn't feature in my thinking on this.

    3:16

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    1. There is no evidence in all the jurisdictions euthanasia is legal (read my linked earlier posts, indeed, read the facts up full stop), that it is abused. When assisted suicide was legislated in Oregon the Hospice Society was initially against it, but after observing how it has turned out now support the law.

      Re your point (1) changes nothing: it is my choice. Where it is legal there are multitudinous safeguards to ensure your premise does not happen, including consultation with two medical professionals, etc.

      Re your point (2) the chief coroner is trying to change the death certification process (read my linked posts), in a manner that will determine if doctors are over-prescribing leading to death of the terminally ill. This is significant as it means on an official level we are moving away from the limited mercy releases that do mercifully occur, and worse, it will lead to more conservative pain remediation regimes the prospects of which are chilling.

      Re your father, I'm sorry, but it shows the problems. You're still talking about his death from his value to you, and the failings 'you' felt in not being there. Euthanasia is about your father's life, and his decisions. Do you see the difference. Your 'shame' in this instance - and don't beat yourself up over it, life is difficult - bears nothing on the issue of the choices I make about my life and death.

      Yes, you are religious. And thus would justify owning my life and death by your God, without compassion, I have to day, such is the nature of mysticism. Question back: how you keep your religion out of your thinking (on anything) when to do so is to disobey God (whom you've handed your life to)?

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    2. By the way, hope my last paragraph doesn't come off too harsh, or the one regarding your father, but re-reading the comments here, I would note Kiwiwit's at the very start:

      "There is a fundamental evil in the world and it is the belief that the worth of your life is measured by your value to others rather than to yourself."

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  5. The issue with my dad is that he wanted me to stay so it was about him, not me. I let him down.

    We will see when the right to die becomes the right to kill - it will happen eventually. Brendan's comments are a pointer to this - what was once hard because it was perceived to be a dangerous step becomes easy when its legal and commonplace.

    My religious views are not imposed on others and in that vein I think you have the right to take your own life but that's not the same as asking someone else to do so it for you. If God possibly claims to own your life you'll find out in due course - he doesn't debate that stuff with me and its no skin off my nose what you do.

    Sometimes society is a happy match of what I believe should exist and what does exist and when it doesn't match I can express a view but have no expectation I have compelling answers that require everyone to agree. I just do the best I can within what I believe is a generally sensible view. I suspect you do the same but with a twist that you would argue your view is superior to mine because you are enlightened and have no need for a religious template to build your views around.

    I think you last quote is a dangerous place to stand. Having dabbled in suicide at one time I can see my value, as perceived by others, was a factor in staying on the right side of the line.

    3:16

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    1. See, I got to your phrase '... become the right to kill', and stopped reading. That is not the case in any jurisdiction euthanasia or assisted suicide is available. There is the rule of law, killing someone is called murder, which will always be a crime.

      When you're prepared to discuss euthanasia rationally, as a rights issue, fine we'll continue, in the meantime, sorry, I can't debate with someone of your views. It's pointless.

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    2. > There is the rule of law, killing someone is called murder, which will always be a crime.

      Unless it's killing someone by over-prescribing painkillers to keep pain at bay.

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    3. Which is why the NZMA's current position is an ethical mess, which needs to be tidied up with legalised euthanasia.

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  6. That's fine, don't debate the matter. You have a passion for this matter that I don't have and maybe that's because I've never had to watch someone suffer as a disease drew slowly to a painful conclusion. Brendan Malone's little video clip sums up my views based on what I know.

    I hope you get what you want and that what you want remains what you want.

    3:16

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