Right to die 2

Waikato Times - - Opinion -

Re the ar­ti­cle on the suf­fer­ing of Roslyn Met­calfe.

Her sis­ter Gina suf­fered ex­ten­sively and com­mit­ted sui­cide. Pro­fes­sor John Weaver in his af­fi­davit to the Lu­cre­tia Seale’s hear­ing showed that 5-8% sui­cides re­ferred to the NZ Coroners Court over 50 years up to 2000, were ‘euthana­sia sui­cides’ i.e. oc­curred in suf­fer­ing per­sons who found they had no way out – the means used were of­ten hor­rific.

Dr Gwynne-Rob­son (Hospice doc­tor) says ‘the doc­tor must first do no harm’.

I’m sure he means well, but by not pro­vid­ing as­sisted dy­ing the doc­tor may, in some cases, do a great deal of harm. For a start they may be forc­ing the per­son into risky sui­cide as hap­pened with Gina.

Sec­ondly, it is clear that pal­lia­tive and hospice care can­not solve all suf­fer­ing – so the ac­tions of a doc­tor such as Gwyn­neRob­son may sim­ply ex­tend suf­fer­ing for the pa­tient and the loved ones.

Thirdly, the doc­tor may be fre­quently ig­nor­ing the pa­tient wishes be­cause he/ she acts with a fixed at­ti­tude, of­ten based on re­li­gious be­lief. This can cause the pa­tient great un­cer­tainty and dis­tress. Some pal­lia­tive care doc­tors need to re­view their opin­ions.

Dr Jack Hav­ill, Hamilton

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