David Seymour, the sponsor of the End of Life Choice Bill has conceded to the New Zealand Parliament that mistakes will be made in prognosis:
we all know, and I'm very pleased to know, people who had terminal prognoses a decade ago who are now walking around living very full lives and are very, very happy to still be alive. It is true that if we know somebody like that, it's very likely that we think of them.
However, Seymour effectively argued that it doesn’t matter (or matter enough) that some people who could have lived for decades will die unnecessarily – it is worth it to give others:
who want to choose to go on their terms, with their timing, the choice to have it their way.
On 24 July 2019 within hours of Oregon Governor Kate Brown signing Senate Bill 579 into law - the first amendment to a law authorising assisted suicide in the USA - the pro-assisted suicide corporation Compassion & Choices openly declared its plan to start rolling back restrictions and procedural safeguards in assisted suicide laws so that more people will die by assisted suicide.
The amendment allows the previously mandatory waiting period of 15 days to be dispensed with if a single doctor, who may never have met the person before but is approached as a known provider of assisted suicide, states that the person “will, within reasonable medical judgment, die within 15 days”.
This gives no time to explore other responses to a request for assisted suicide before a person is dead by prescribed lethal poison.
Guidelines issued for assessing and executing requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide from people with mental disorders, including addictions such as alcoholism, by the Netherlands Federation of Medical Specialists and the National Council of the Order of Physicians of Belgium essentially authorise doctors to agree with a patient that abandoning all hope - as if they were at the gates of hell in Dante's Divine Comedy - is the only proper response to their mental illness or addiction.
This plaque could appropriately be put on the office door of Dutch and Belgian doctors who give effect to the guidelines.
Christophe, a father of four young children aged 4, 6, 7 and 10 years old, has begun the process of seeking euthanasia in Belgium, after the Belgian health system refused funding support for the only available treatment for the rare blood disease - paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria – which he has suffered from since he was 17 years old.
In an open letter signed by 1181 New Zealand doctors it is affirmed that "that physician assisted suicide and euthanasia are unethical, even if they were made legal".
On Wednesday 26 June 2019 the End of Life Choices Bill passed its second reading in the New Zealand Parliament by 70 votes to 50. This does not guarantee its ultimate passage into law as several of those who voted for the Bill at this stage nonetheless expressed grave reservations, especially about the dangers of coercion and elder abuse.
The key concerns with the Bill, which would permit assisted suicide and euthanasia for any New Zealander with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition”, are the risks for people with disability, elder abuse and coercion, unavoidable medical errors in prognosis, diagnosis and identifying mental illness, and undermining suicide prevention, including for young people.