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Hospice To Host Public Meeting on Euthanasia

Hospice To Host Public Meeting on Euthanasia

Media Release – August 06, 2012

Hospice New Zealand is pleased to announce a public meeting on euthanasia to be held in Wellington on Thursday, August 16, titled “Euthanasia, an ethical and legal crossroad”.

“Dying is a fact of life and should be discussed openly and often,” says Hospice New Zealand CEO, Mary Schumacher. “We have organized this public meeting to enable discussion on euthanasia outside of any individual case. It’s a subject that needs more understanding in many parts of the world and New Zealand is no different. We want to provoke discussion among New Zealanders and we hope the public meeting will generate questions that will allow people to form their own opinions.”

To help support an informed debate, Hospice New Zealand has invited the Baroness Finlay of Llandaff to New Zealand to speak at the meeting. The Baroness is a doctor, a professor of palliative medicine and an Independent Crossbench member of the House of Lords. She chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well, which is a group of MPs and Peers established to promote palliative care and oppose legalised euthanasia; and she is co-Chair, with leading Queen's Counsel Lord Carlile, of a UK-based think-tank which researches, analyses and publishes the serious evidence surrounding the controversial subject of 'assisted dying' (ie euthanasia or assisted suicide).

“I am very excited to be coming to New Zealand to participate in a healthy debate,” says the Baroness. “Though I am opposed to legalisation of euthanasia, I can understand other viewpoints and am more than happy to engage in open and constructive discussion of the subject.” The Baroness says she hopes to assist in the understanding of the implications of legalising euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in New Zealand - positive and negative.

Also speaking is Labour Health Spokesperson, Maryan Street, who has put an End-of-Life Choice Bill in the Members’ bill ballot in Parliament. “The bill would make it legal for those diagnosed as terminally ill, or with an irreversible medical condition, and fully in control of their mental faculties, to choose to die, and for assisting clinicians or family members to be protected from liability,” she explains. The bill also includes provision for End of Life Directives, so a person could make their wishes known before the advance of a terminal illness.

Mary Schumacher says the needs of people who are dying are complex. “I hope this meeting will challenge the assumption that dying from a life-limiting illness leads to a painful and undignified death. We at hospice are experts in palliative care and we know that this assumption is simply untrue and that in fact expert care can lead to more quality time at home and with your family. At the meeting the public will have the opportunity to hear a for and against perspective on euthanasia and ask plenty of questions. We want as many people as possible to attend the meeting because we feel it is such an important issue for our community, therefore the cost of entry is simply a donation to Hospice NZ.”

Also speaking at the meeting are Professor Grant Gillett and Colin Gavaghan. The event will be chaired by broadcaster Sean Plunket.

What: “Euthanasia, an ethical and legal crossroad”; A free, public meeting on euthanasia.

When: Thursday, August 16, 17:30 – 19:30

Where: Paramount Cinema, 29 Courtenay Place, Wellington

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