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Public has new chance to debate euthanasia

Aug 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

DEBATE on voluntary euthanasia has been re-ignited after Labour MP Maryan Street submitted her End of Life Choice Bill to Parliament’s members’ ballot last month.

The issue will be debated by health, medical law and ethics experts in front of the public next week at the Paramount Cinema.

Hospice New Zealand is holding the public meeting to allow questions and discussion from all angles of the issue and to get people thinking about their views.

“It’s a matter of getting people talking about an issue that’s in the media and hearing from both sides,” says Jo Rosenbrook, Hospice NZ’s community relationship adviser.

She says the news media sometimes focuses on individual cases, and she hopes the meeting will give people a broad view of the issue and options available.

“We want people to understand what hospices do, the role they play and how they may help.”

Last Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a piece about euthanasia featuring a terminally ill woman.

Euthanasia bills have been put before Parliament previously and the last one nearly a decade ago narrowly failed to pass by two votes.

Speakers offering their medical, legal and ethical perspectives at the meeting are:

  • Ilora Finlay, Baroness of Llandaff, a doctor and professor of palliative medicine.
  • Maryan Street, Labour List MP and spokesperson for health.
  • Colin Gavaghan,  associate professor in medical law and ethics and head of the Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies.
  • Grant Gillett, professor of medical ethics at the Bioethics Centre of the Medical School.

Hospice NZ’s official statement on the issue says it does not support a change in the law to legalise assisted dying in any form and believes that improving access to hospice and palliative care services for all New Zealanders should be the Government’s first priority.

More research is needed to inform public debate and future Government policy before any law change.

It says current research shows the attitudes of doctors and other clinicians appear to be at odds with public opinion.

According to the NZ Medical Association, euthanasia can never be considered an ethical practice even if it is legalised.

The meeting will be chaired by NewstalkZB radio host Sean Plunket and there will be an opportunity for questions, comments and discussion following the speakers.

The meeting, titled “Euthanasia, an ethical and legal crossroad”, will be held at Paramount Cinema, on Thursday August 16, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.  Entry is by donation.

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