THE CASE FOR ALLOWING AID IN DYING IN NEW ZEALAND

has written an article in NZ Criminal Law Review, making the case for allowing aid in dying. Some extracts:

We generally presume competent adults to be the superior judges of what is best for them in the particular situation they are confronted with and so should respect their decisions about what actions they do or do not want to take in response. Thus, it is a foundational principle of medical practice that informed consent must be obtained for any procedure on or treatment of a patient who is capable of giving such consent.

So we should allow people to make informed consent decisions about what is best for them, so long as they are of sound mind and no undue pressure.

I will argue in more detail below that the claim actually is false in respect of aid in dying, as there simply is no reason for us to assume that collectively we have a superior understanding of what are the true best interests of relevant persons. We cannot honestly say a person is “foolish” or “short-sighted” or “delusional” for wanting to end her life rather than continue a necessarily truncated existence marred by pain and suffering.

I prefer the individual racked by pained and suffering to decide for themselves, rather than have a collective impose their will.

The impact of Motor Neurone DIsease is listed:

eventually individuals will not be able to stand or walk, get in or out of bed on their own, or use their hands and arms. Difficulty swallowing and chewing impair the person’s ability to eat normally and increase the risk of choking. Maintaining weight will then become a problem. Because cognitive abilities are relatively intact, people are aware of their progressive loss of function and may become anxious and depressed. … In later stages of the disease, individuals have difficulty breathing as the muscles of the respiratory system weaken. They eventually lose the ability to breathe on their own and must depend on ventilatory support for survival.

And the choice not allowed:

But for others the promise of months of slow wasting away until finally their body ceases to function is an utterly horrifying prospect that they would rather avoid by way of a swift and painless end. Similarly, other relevant persons facing comparably bleak end of life circumstances also may wish to receive aid in dying rather than continue to suffer the inescapable effects of their particular condition.

Anyway my snippets do not do the full article justice. It is 60 pages in length and is a compelling argument for why the law should change.

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