Title: To be or not to be, continued Credit: 09FEB07 Comment Friday 9th February 2007 - 12:00pm1170975600 Article: 1581 Rights
Fortunately, it seems as if the protease inhibitor bottleneck that obstructed Kaletra's arrival here has eased somewhat, as PLWAs haven't drawn our attention to any new cases of medication stuck in Pharmac and MedSafe's regulatory pipeline. That aside, though, is the increasing pitch of controversy and debate indicative that euthanasia and assisted suicide may be about to overtake LGBT rights issues as the other major obsession of the Christian Right, next to trying to obstruct women's access to abortion (at which they've also failed miserably)? It's difficult not to have some sympathy for Lesley Martin. She strikes me as a woman who found herself in a heartbreaking and extreme situation, and she has served a prison sentence for her mother's death. That strikes me as punishment enough, and I find the Nursing Council's attempts to have her struck off in the High Court as harassment. In a democratic and pluralist society, Ms Martin has the right to voice her opinion and challenge professional consensus about the practices of palliative care, voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. As for Phillip Nitschke, this Australian firebrand doctor has a tendency toward impulsiveness, but on the other hand, he should be free to discuss the issue with interested parties in workshops, or advocate for his side of the debate without fear of censorship of his political opinion on this issue. I imagine he's driven by a sense of urgency, and one is curious about whether any PLWAs have attended his New Zealand workshops. I draw the line at Nembutal smuggling, but I can see why he feels such passion. Whether or not it assists others due to backlash against his provocative stance is a moot point. To be honest, I don't think there'll be much significant progress on the issue unless the organised medical profession liberalises its stance over the associated issues. The New Zealand Medical Association and its counterparts are powerful professional lobby groups, and I would welcome an elaboration of reasons why they oppose decriminalisation of voluntary euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide. However, I have to say that I find the shrill cant of the Christian Right anti-euthanasia lobby hypocritical and self-righteous. With the exception of those anti-euthanasia activists who do work within the hospice movement, they seem to primarily be engaged in dogmatic assertion and advocating censorship of others opinions. If the Christian Right really does want to do something to offset the demand for voluntary euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide, it should provide examples of cases where palliative care has been denied to those it might have helped to survive, but they don't seem to feel any compulsion to do so. They were silent when Kaletra was difficult to access for PLWAs. They have been silent over the availability of Herceptin for breast cancer survivors, whether they agree with its advocates or opponents within the womens health movement and breast cancer survivor networks. They have remained silent when the Access to Medicines Coalition has spoken out. Why? Moreover, I am opposed to any attempt at sectarian censorship of the opinions of others, as has occurred in Australia with its draconian Suicide Related Materials Act. Whatever ones opinion about voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is, it won't go away. Should people be able to take a pre-arranged fatal dosage of medication when they're terminally ill an they feel that their personal quality of life has been too compromised? On the other hand, shouldn't palliative care medication be available if it works for particular groups of the severely or terminally ill? Recommended: Phillip Nitschke: The Peaceful Pill Handbook: Darwin: Exit International: 2007 Phillip Nitschke: Killing Me Softly: Voluntary Euthanasia and the Road to the Peaceful Pill: Camberwell: Penguin: 2005 Mark Blocher: A Right to Die? Caring Alternatives to Euthanasia: Chicago: Moody Press: 1999. [Although evangelical Christian, it does provide some concrete cases of improved palliative care situations, and is the best of the anti-euthanasia stable] 09FEB07 - 9th February 2007    
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