NZ Herald 28 June 2012
Permitting mercy-killing of people with terminal illnesses would inevitably lead to the killing of newborns with disabilities and the elderly, an anti-euthanasia campaigner says. The head of the Canada-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg, will speak in Auckland on Saturday at a conference organised by the Euthanasia Debate group. He arrives as Labour MP Maryan Street prepares to put her assisted-suicide bill in the ballot for private members’ bills. “It allows people who have a terminal illness or who are suffering from an irrecoverable condition to determine how and when they wish to die,” she said. “It’s not just for terminal illness. It is also for those who have a condition where their quality of life is so diminished they don’t want to live any longer.” In the Netherlands, doctors are permitted, under strict conditions and at a patient’s request, to end the person’s life or assist their suicide.
….The Netherlands physicians federation says non-medical factors such as “loss of function, loneliness and loss of autonomy” can be part of the evaluation of suffering, and that the law can apply to patients with psychiatric conditions or dementia. Dutch paediatricians writing in a leading US medical journal in 2005 described the legal protocol under which euthanasia of newborns, typically those with severe forms of spina bifida, can be permitted. “When both the parents and the physicians are convinced that there is an extremely poor prognosis, they may concur that death would be more humane than continued life.”