Medical Association: NZ does not need euthanasia

Voluntary euthanasia would be fraught with problems and New Zealand doesn’t need it, doctors have told a select committee.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMAA) made the comments at the second day of the Health Select Committee’s hearings.

The association said it backed patient autonomy, but sizeable complexities were involved in determining whether patients had made rational, fully informed decisions of their own free will.

Dr Stephen Child, chair of the NZMAA, told the committee the association represented 5500 medical professionals.

“Doctors do everything we possibly can for our patients … but 10 to 15 percent of diagnoses are incorrect, and three percent of diagnoses of cancer are incorrect,” he said.

“We’re not always right in diagnosis, and we’re not always right in prognosis.

“In principle and in practice, the association does not support a change in the legislation.”

A three weeks ago the Select Conmmittee heard from supporters of voluntary euthanasia, and last week it was the turn of those who oppose it.

The Care Alliance, a coalition of organisations and individuals opposed to voluntary euthanasia, said “assisted suicide” was unnecessary and dangerous.

“The right response to suffering is to continue the services for people with terminal illnesses,” said the alliance’s secretary, Matthew Jansen.

The Alliance said it would also lead young people to think suicide was an acceptable response to suffering, which was wrong.

[Last week Radio New Zealand reported a terminally ill 17-year-old had become the first minor to be helped to die in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia requests there were removed two years ago.]

The Wellington Interfaith Council said all religions opposed the ending of life.

Council chairman Khalid Sandhu, a doctor, gave several examples of how his terminally ill patients had died peacefully under palliative care.

“We are desperate to stop people committing suicide, while at the same time discussing giving people that choice,” he said.

An advocacy group, Not Dead Yet, said people with disabilities suffered from negative attitudes, and voluntary euthanasia would add to that.

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News category: New Zealand.

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