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Physicians are hastening deaths.

Problems are not limited to countries where euthanasia is legal. In New Zealand, a hotly debated bill to allow assisted suicide was defeated in Parliament in 2003. Yet a recent report has revealed that many doctors are hastening the deaths of terminally ill patients. A study in the New Zealand Medical Journal showed that 693 general practitioners who had responded anonymously to a national survey had participated in a physician-assisted death over a 12-month period (Otago Daily Times, June 21). Of these doctors, 39 had performed "some kind of action which would conform to everyday concepts of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia."

A high court jury in the town of Nelson, New Zealand took only forty minutes to find a father innocent in the killing of his brain-damaged baby girl. Pro-euthanasia groups immediately hailed the acquittal as a victory for their cause, in spite of the fact the father had not intended to kill her, but had "snapped" under the pressure of caring for her with almost no support. He has since expressed remorse for what happened.

The study added that most of the hastened deaths occurred even though palliative care was available. As well, in 15 of the cases it was nurses who had given the patients life-ending drugs. Moreover, in 380 cases, the doctors' decision to put an end to patients' lives was taken without discussion with the patient. The main reason cited by the doctors for not consulting was that the patient was too ill. Still, in 88 cases the doctors did not consult even those patients they judged to be competent. "Legal or not, physician-assisted death is an international reality and New Zealand is no exception with such actions occurring in an apparently palliative-rich environment," noted the study.
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Title Annotation:WORLD REPORT
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:291
Previous Article:Other countries.
Next Article:Reluctance to punish.
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