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Topical Issues and News

Latest topical issues and news from the NZ Health Professionals Alliance.


Euthanasia: What happens if the drugs don’t work?

Originally published in RNZ, March 2021.

By Guyon Espiner.

Click here to read the article.

What happens if a patient doesn ‘t die during a euthanasia attempt? That’ s one of a number of ethical and legal questions being asked by palliative care experts who say we are woefully unprepared to introduce assisted dying.

Senior nursing leaders are also concerned New

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Whanganui doctor: The medical profession needs a No vote in End of Life Choice referendum

Click here to read the article. 
“The End of Life Choice Referendum requires us to vote for or against the 2019 Act coming into force…Many statements, comments and perspectives have been presented and it can be confusing for us to weigh them and come to a yes/no conclusion. ”

The main benefit of assisted dying has been described as “complement[ing] the limitations of palliative care when suffering can no longer be relieved.” But assisted dying is not an option that complements palliative care.

“The complementary actions in palliative care include organising services, providing physical care, ensuring whānau and family members are supported and many other options besides. It is these actions as much as the medications essential for symptom control that ease suffering. Complementary actions may also include not providing inappropriate interventions but allowing a natural course to death.”

“Assisted dying is not any of this. Assisted dying asks the doctor to give up the responsibility to provide care and be involved in an action that is contrary to all the other health care we provide.”
Article Source:  The NZ Herald 18 Aug

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STUFF: Euthanasia referendum: ‘The proposed law isn’t watertight’

Opinion Piece by Grant Illingworth QC

The New Zealand public will shortly be asked to decide whether to give health workers the authority to assist terminally ill people to die. Many people, including now Sir Michael Cullen, think it’s a good idea to give people who are terminally ill a choice about how to

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Euthanasia – What happens when prognosis for a terminal illness is wrong?

“Glenn’s doctors gave him a prognosis of six months to live three times over a period of nearly nine years. Prognosis cannot only be a little off, it can be flat out wrong. Would euthanasia have been legal, Glenn could have ended his life with years still left ahead of him. He would have missed out on so much, as would his wife and young daughter.”  

When prognosis is wrong – Glenn's story #DefendNZ Documentary

#WATCH : Glenn’s doctors gave him a prognosis of six months to live three times over a period of nearly nine years. Prognosis cannot only be a little off, it can be flat out wrong. Would euthanasia have been legal, Glenn could have ended his life with years still left ahead of him. He would have missed out on so much, as would his wife and young daughter.

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎DefendNZ‎‏ في الاثنين، ١٧ أغسطس ٢٠٢٠

Authorised by Catherine Hallagan, 42 Campbell St, Karori, Wellington, 6012

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How would you feel if your 18 year old brother was diagnosed with cancer and he chose euthanasia?

Watch this video BEFORE you decide how you’re going to vote in the referendum on The End of Life Choice Act 2019 on September 19th.

Please share this video with those who may not realise how the End of Life Choice Act coming into force could drastically change NZ.

Authorised by Catherine Hallagan, 42

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Doctors being bullied to participate in euthanasia & assisted suicide in Canada

“We are being bullied to participate in medical assistance dying”
Alert from a growing number of Canadian physicians
News Release
Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia
Montréal, March 9, 2020 – The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia has received reports that unwilling physicians are being pressured and bullied to participate in Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD): euphemism

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ASA throw out attempt to shut down criticism of NZ Govt’s plan to introduce abortion up to birth for Down’s syndrome

November 13, 2019

“The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has thrown out a complaint against Right To Life UK.”

“The complaint appears to have been made by Young Labour’s Senior Executive Secretary and Labour Party youth camp organiser Tess Macintyre.”

“In September 2019, Right To Life UK ran a news article on its website covering opposition from parents of children with Down’s syndrome to proposed changes to New Zealand abortion legislation that also outlined how the proposed law change would introduce abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome. This article was also posted on the organisation’s Facebook page.”

“The complainant, T Macintyre, claimed that the Facebook post presented  “a false claim that the Prime Minister of New Zealand is attempting to legalise abortion up to birth for foetuses with Down syndrome.”  ”

“The Advertising Standards Authority has now thrown out the complaint.”

“Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said: “The NZ Labour Party needs to stand up and justify why they want to legalise abortion for babies with disabilities including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome right through to birth. They need to stop trying to shut down debate on this important issue.”

Read the full article

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Powerful Video – Kiwi Doctor Against Abortion


Watch this powerful video! A Kiwi doctor explains why he stopped doing abortions and why he thinks the New Zealand Government ‘s Abortion Legislation Bill 2019 is dangerous for unborn children.

Hear the truth about the reality of abortion including late term abortions, the risks and harms of abortion to the mother, the importance of the heartbeat, foetal pain, the age of viability, and NZ’ s close connection to operative procedures performed on the unborn child during pregnancy.

“With the proposed new law, it would seem that the mother has all the rights & no recognition of the existence of the baby, the life of the baby, or the value of the baby is considered. It’s shocking beyond belief.” – Dr Norman MacLean

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Disappointment at Proposed NZ Abortion Legislation

The Proposed Abortion Legislation
Dr Catherine Hallagan, spokesperson for the New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance is
hugely disappointed at the proposed Abortion Legislation Bill released by Cabinet today.

Dr Hallagan says that Abortion must remain in the Crimes Act because, at some point, killing a
child is a crime. It should remain a crime

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Why I will be a conscientious objector to Victoria’s assisted dying law

Originally published in MercartorNet, August 2018

by Adrian Dabscheck

During a recent period of enforced rest, I had time to reflect on my attitude to the recently enacted voluntary assisted dying legislation in Victoria and consider my response.1 I will detail my reaction to the Act and why I have chosen to become a

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Pulling the plug on conscience rights

Originally published in First Things, December 2009

by Wesley J. Smith


Over the past fifty years, the purposes and practices of medicine have changed radically. Where medical ethics was once life-affirming, today’s treatments and medical procedures increasingly involve the legal taking of human life. The litany is familiar: More than one million pregnancies

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Doctor who objects to physician-assisted suicide says role is in ‘service of the sanctity of life’

Originally published in CBC News, April 2017

by Andrea Janus

A Scarborough palliative care physician says she would like Ontario to adopt a direct-access model for physician-assisted suicide, making it widely available to patients while bypassing doctors who object to the procedure.

Dr. Natalia Novosedlik is one of a group of doctors seeking what ‘s called “conscience protection” in the province’

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Euthanasia and the common good

Originally published in Corpus, July 2018
by Charlotte Paul

When I started thinking hard about euthanasia, I visited my friend who has a progressive illness affecting his body and mind, and who is in hospital-level care. His partner has moved into the same residence to help look after him. She responds to his suffering with love,

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When doctors say No

Originally published in MercatorNet, May 2017

by Michael Quinlan

As abortion, euthanasia and other controversial procedures become more widespread, conscientious objection for healthcare workers is becoming a flashpoint for controversy throughout the Western world. Some doctors and ethicists have argued that conscientious objection itself is unethical because doctors are required to fulfil any legal

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Protecting the Careers of Medical Professionals Who Believe in the Hippocratic Oath

Originally published in The Center for Bioethics and Culture, May 2009

by Wesley J. Smith

We live in a culturally diverse society in which people vary greatly in their moral beliefs about the importance of human life. These profound differences are most bitterly expressed in the medical context, particularly with regard to issues such

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Politicians wrestle with doctors’ consciences in Victoria

Originally published in MercatorNet, April 2017

by Paul Russell

As the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Panel on “assisted dying” makes ready to release its interim report sometime in April, The Age newspaper turned its attention to the matter of conscience whether a doctor may refuse to take part in any action that would bring about the

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Growing Intolerance Threatens Rights of Conscience of Health Care Workers

Originally published in CNS News, March 2016

by Lynn Wardle

Around the world, policies and actions of many governments and governmental agencies are threatening rights of conscience of health care providers and employees.  These challenges and dangers seem to be increasing.

Recent times have seen numerous high-profile incidents in which nurses, doctors, hospital staff,

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Understanding freedom of conscience

Originally published in Policy Options, May 2018

by Brian Bird

The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary since Confederation and the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. By virtue of a court case in Ontario that might go all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, 2017 may

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Why the right to conscientious objection must be restored

Originally published in Conscience Laws, June 2014

Presentation to the Life Dinner Melbourne, Australia

by David van Gend

I feel a little out of place coming from Queensland to speak about the wretched situation in Victoria: coming from a State where it is always sunny, where the people are always nice, and where we don ‘t have oppressive laws that try to compel the conscience of free citizens.

But we are all in this together: an assault on fundamental freedoms in one State will become a precedent for similar abuses in other States.

Uncivil society

It was a Melbourne man, Julian Savulescu, now an ethics professor at Oxford, who declared that doctors who will not provide abortion should be “punished through removal of license to practice”. He wrote in the British Medical Journal in 2006:
A doctors’

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In reply to supporters of the End of Life Choice Bill

Originally published in New Zealand Doctor, February 2018

by Rosalie Evans


I agree that all doctors should read the End of Life Choice Bill. However, unlike Dr Havill et al, I do not believe it is inevitable that this bill will become law, writes GP Rosalie Evans.
Dr Havill et al “cherry-picked” a few submissions to the health select committee which promoted a change in

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Doctors, Revolt!

Originally published in The New York Times, February 2018

by Rich Joseph

Boston — The 96-year-old patient with pneumonia in Bed 11 was angry. “Do you really need to check my vital signs every four hours?” he asked.
Checking things like temperature, blood pressure and respiratory rate every four hours on hospitalized patients has

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Dr. Arnold Gold, 92, Dies; Made Compassionate Care a Cause

Originally published in The New York Times, February 2018
by Richard Sandomir

Dr. Arnold Gold, a pediatric neurologist whose belief in the importance of an empathetic bedside manner led him and his wife to create a foundation to inspire young doctors to practice compassionate patient care, died on Jan. 23 in Manhattan. He was

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Nurses’ unique perspectives on end-of-life choices must be heard

Originally published in Nursing Review, February 2018

by Taumihau Teremoana

The outcome of last year’s government inquiry into assisted dying left me both hopeful and disappointed that as a society we have not addressed alleviating suffering effectively.

The inquiry’s decision not to recommend law changes allowing legalised assisted dying was welcomed by Palliative Care Nurses New

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Ron Jones: Leave doctors out of ‘assisted dying’ discussion

Originally published by New Zealand Herald, March 2017

by Dr Ron Jones
Most individuals have strongly held views either for or against the proposed euthanasia legislation. My own views are those of a retired, perhaps somewhat cynical, doctor who has spent most of his professional life caring for women with gynaecological cancer.
During this time

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Physician-assisted suicide won’t atone for medicine’s ‘original sin’

Originally published in StatNews, January 2018

by Dr Ira Byock

Centuries from now, one of the things our era will be known for is the plague of dying badly. A growing number of physicians believe that one solution is helping their dying patients choose to end their lives. I disagree.
I’m proud of being

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Doctor support for assisted suicide drops radically after legalization

Originally published in HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

A survey of Canadian doctors reveals that the support of medical professionals for assisted suicide drops significantly once the process becomes legal, with most physicians now refusing to participate in the administration of lethal drugs to their patients.

According to the December 2017 edition of

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The Alarming Trend Of Bullying Hospitals And Hospices Into Assisted Suicide

Originally published by Huffpost, January 2018

by Dr Will Johnston

Canadians who are sick and suicidal can now be put to death under various medicalized and government-approved protocols, following court and legislative victories by euthanasia activists. These activists are now turning their considerable talents to a coercive makeover of the palliative hospice movement by demanding

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Dehumanization Triumphant

Originally published by First Things, February 1996

by Dr Leon Kass

Recent efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide and to establish a constitutional “right to die” are deeply troubling events, morally dubious in themselves, extremely dangerous in their likely consequences. The legalization of physician-assisted suicide, ostensibly a measure enhancing the freedom of dying patients, is in

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Terry Sarten: Quality end-of-life care should be nation’s priority

Originally published in The New Zealand Herald, 21 January 2018

By Terry Sarten
The current debate around proposed legislation that will allow for assisted dying, euthanasia and the right to die is a deeply profound distraction that suits politicians well.
It is simply palliative legislation. The definition of the term palliative includes the words

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David E. Richmond: In 40 years of terminal care I’ve never seen unmanageable suffering

Originally published in The New Zealand Herald, 16 January 2018

By David E. Richmond
Dr Havill ‘s opinion piece in last Tuesday’ s Herald is a fine example of the genre of emotionalism he rails against in those who oppose his attempts to convince the public that legalised euthanasia is the holy grail of medicine.
Unfortunately he has not been able

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We do not like to talk about death – but that doesn’t make euthanasia the answer

Originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 November 2017

By Richard Chye


One of the hallmarks of the euthanasia debate so far – in NSW and Victoria – has been the determination of its proponents to depict any opposition as being based purely on religion. So, before I go on, perhaps it

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Shedding New Light On Hospice Care: No Need To Wait For The ‘Brink Of Death’

Originally published in Kaiser Health News, 7 September 2017

By Judith Graham

A few weeks ago, Kathy Brandt’s 86-year-old mother was hospitalized in Florida after a fall. After rushing to her side, Brandt asked for a consult with a palliative care nurse.

“I wanted someone to make sure my mother was on the right

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Euthanasia laws: the true implications

Originally published in The Spectator Australia, 28 November 2017

By John Buchanan


The “voluntary Assisted dying” legislation appears set to pass both lower and upper houses in Victoria. However, let us call it “assisted suicide and euthanasia legislation”, because that is what it is.

One of the problems with this whole debate has

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Palliative Care: the Pearl of Great Price

Originally published in The Huffington Post, 9 April 2017

By Katherine Pettus

One reason global palliative care advocacy is so challenging is because it implies systems change. Palliative care is an approach, an ethic, a multi-disciplinary sub-speciality, not just a new element that can be added and stirred into health systems. Palliative care doesn’t accommodate itself to

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I want to care for people, not kill them

Originally published in The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2017

By Dr John Obeid


OF the many and varied euphemisms employed by advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia, “assisted dying” is perhaps the most outrageous.

Assisting dying patients by providing pain management and emotional and psychological support is exactly what health professionals already do

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Dr Sinead Donnelly: Palliative medicine uses morphine with care

Originally published in The New Zealand Herald, 15 December 2017

By Dr Sinead Donnelly
In support of his bill that seeks to change the law in New Zealand, David Seymour claims, “It is ok if a doctor intentionally ends your life by giving you too much morphine and claiming that’s a double effect. All that is ok. All that happens without any regulatory safeguards whatsoever.”
I am a palliative medicine physician with 28 years experience in caring for patients and their families at the end of

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Euthanasia fails doctors’ code

Originally published in The Australian, 20 October 2017

By Michael Gannon

The Victorian parliament is in the final stages of debating its Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. So is the Victorian community, and the Australian community.

Events in Spring Street are being watched very closely nationally and internationally, and with good reason.
There is a

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Making Victoria’s euthanasia laws: a process to be shunned

Originally published in The Spectator Australia, 7 December 2017

By Robert Clark


Last month, Victoria became the only jurisdiction in the world to have voted to legalise euthanasia in 2017.  Why and how did such legislation come to be passed in Victoria, despite being rejected everywhere else?

Regrettably, what occurred in Victoria has been

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A doctor’s view: ‘I do not support legalising assisted dying’

Originally published in Stuff, 1 February 2016


Dear Stuff community,

As a doctor, I do not support legalising assisted dying.

I recognise that people on both sides of this debate have compassion for people who are suffering and want to help them. The main difference in opinion is the way in which we

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Euthanasia, Assisted suicide and the Medical Profession: ‘Keep Doctors Out of It’.

Originally published by The Nathaniel Centre, Issue 52 August 2017

Doctors are not necessary for the regulation or practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide
Many doctors want no part in euthanasia or assisted suicide, including some who, on a personal level, are not opposed in principle. As stated in “An Open Letter to New

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Care Alliance Highlights Folly of Victoria Euthanasia Decision

Originally published on The Care Alliance website, 23 November 2017

The legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Victoria, by the narrowest of margins, introduces an unsafe and unnecessary practice into the heart of their healthcare practice, says Dr Peter Thirkell, Spokesperson for the Care Alliance. Australian medical organisations have stated on numerous occasions

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VIEWPOINT: Why the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners needs to have a Position Statement on Euthanasia.

VIEWPOINT: General Practitioners as Professionals:  Why the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners needs to have a Position Statement on Euthanasia.

Dr Kevin Fitzsimons FRNZCGP

General Practitioners are a large and integral part of the Medical Profession.  It is likely that on ethical and other contentious issues, General Practitioners will hold a range of

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Legalising assisted dying would be a failure of collective human memory and imagination

Originally published in The Guardian, 20 September 2017

By Margaret Somerville

Dying and death is not a new phenomenon: we have always become ill, suffered, were going to die and someone else could have killed us. So why now, at the beginning of the 21st century, after prohibiting euthanasia for thousands of years and

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American College of Physicians Opposes Assisted Suicide

Excellent. The American College of Physicians, after studying the issue, has issued a policy statement against the legalization of assisted suicide. From the ACP Position Paper:
Society’s goal should be to make dying less, not more, medical. Physician-assisted suicide is neither a therapy nor a solution to difficult questions raised at the end of life.


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Palliative care experts warn NSW assisted dying bill ‘unsafe’

Originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 2017

By Sean Nicholls

Palliative care professionals have presented a united front against proposed voluntary assisted dying legislation on the eve of debate in the NSW Parliament, declaring the bill “cannot be made safe” .

The NSW upper house is set to debate laws that would make it

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Assisted dying legislation creates different categories of human life

Originally published in The Age, 16 October 2017

by Emma Dawson

I ‘ve hesitated before entering the debate around the assisted dying legislation now before the Victorian Parliament, because people of good intentions are driving the legislative process. But the willingness of some euthanasia advocates to paint all opposition as religious zealotry must not go unchallenged.

I’ m not religious. And, for the record, I support both marriage equality and abortion rights unequivocally – mine is not a reactionary, conservative position.

I also worked for three years as a care attendant in an aged care home, helping to care

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NZHPA: Submission to the Health Select Committee Investigation into Ending One’s Life in New Zealand

The New Zealand Health Select Committee conducted an inquiry into ‘Ending One’ s Life in New Zealand ‘ between June 2015 and February 2016. The Select Committee investigated 1) factors that contribute to the desire to end one’ s life, 2) the effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives, 3) the attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation, and 4)

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I won’t intentionally help my patients to end their lives

Originally published in The Age, 9 October 2017

by Marion Harris

Most patients with incurable cancer battle to the end. They exhaust all evidence-based active treatment options and clinical trials before being told that supportive care measures are now best.

A request to die is uncommon, and is often driven by poorly controlled pain

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Margaret Wong: Abortion involves more than a mother’s body

Originally published in the NZ Herald, 2 June 2016

Margaret Wong is a practising midwife who has also been a neonatal intensive care nurse and Plunket nurse during the past 40 years.

Lizzie Marvelly is right; every woman should be able to make her own choices. Certainly in New Zealand, we have more choices

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Abortion Law ‘Reform’: Twenty Questions that Deserve Answers

Originally published on ABC, 12 May 2016.

By Rachael Wong

Independent MP Rob Pyne has introduced a private member ‘s bill to amend Queensland’ s abortion laws, which may allow women to undergo abortions through all nine months of pregnancy – up until birth.

Pyne, who called the current law “archaic,” has said that his bill does not

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Dear Canada, Respect for Conscience is Fundamental to Health Care

Rachael Wong is a lawyer from Auckland who is currently working as a legal consultant with the Law Reform Commission in Samoa. She has recently completed a Master of Bioethics and Health Law for which she wrote her dissertation on freedom of conscience in health care. She maintains that a health professional’s exercise of

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A Good Death is a Gift

Dr Samantha Murton, an NZHPA member and General Practitioner from Wellington, reflects on a recent death in her family.

I was busily involved in our own personal experience of a gracious death with my Mother-in-Law. If I could say something now to the Health Select Committee on its Investigation into the Ending of One’s

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You Don’t Discourage Suicide by Assisting Suicide

Caroline Downey is a Kiwi currently based in London. In her submission to the Health Select Committee on the investigation into ending one ‘s life in New Zealand, she writes “we have to start talking about the problem of suicide in New Zealand – not the need for assisted suicide.”

I oppose any legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide in New Zealand.

On the 19th of October 2015, The Guardian published an article titled “’ We have to start talking about it’: New Zealand suicide rates hit record high”.

Beneath the title is the following brief explanation:

“The country has second highest rate of youth suicide

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Palliative Care is Everyone’s Business

Dr Lucia Mitchell is a General Practitioner and Palliative Care Doctor who works in Richmond, Nelson, New Zealand. She shares with us her submission to the Health Select Committee on the investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand.

I oppose any legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide in New Zealand.

Death has in

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The End of Life Choice Bill, or Please Don’t Kill Anyone

By John Fox

I’ve been sharing this when asked in various fora lately. If anyone wonders what I think of David Seymour’s iniquitous Bill, here it is.

To begin with I should say two things; first, this is not abstract for me. I live with a mild form of cerebral palsy and various associated

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Doctors Say No to Assisted Suicide

The NZHPA strongly encourages all New Zealand doctors to sign the Open Letter published by the Care Alliance opposing medical involvement in euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Care Alliance’s press release and Open Letter are re-published below:

Wednesday, 9 December 2015, 3:47 pm
Press Release: Care Alliance

Doctors say no to assisted suicide


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The Right to Freedom of Conscience

By Neil Vaney


A recent post from Terry Bellamak, new president of the Abortion Law Rights Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ), questions why health professionals such as doctors and nurses should be legally able to use the claim of freedom of conscience in refusing to provide contraceptive or abortion advice or services. (http://wp.me/x1XY6w-z1,

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Some Inspiration for Your Submission

Want to make a submission to the Health Select Committee on the investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand, but not sure where to start? Carolyn Moynihan, a journalist who supports the work of NZHPA, has written this excellent submission:

8 November 2015

Submission on: The investigation into ending one’s life in NZ

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Reality TV, the Economist and Euthanasia

By Michael Cook

Because media coverage of suicide could easily lead to copycat suicides, in 2008 the World Health Organization issued a long list of guidelines for journalists. It advises them to: “Avoid language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems”, “Avoid providing detailed information about the site

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Withdrawal of Twins’ Life Support Is Not Euthanasia

Fourteen month old, twin Iraqi boys suffering from a progressive and incurable neurodegenerative disorder have died after the UK High Court ruled that doctors could switch off their life support against their parents ‘ wishes.

In line with decisions made in similar cases, Justice Holman considered that the suffering and complications the boys experienced as a result of both their condition and the artificial ventilation, made prolonging such treatment “not only futile but unjustifiable.” Agreeing with the boys’ doctors, he ruled:

“It seems to me that artificially to prolong their lives in this particular case lacks any purpose, confers no benefit at all apart from the fact of physical survival, and involves perpetuating the infliction of pain and discomfort for no gain or purpose. It is not in the best interests of either boy that the process be artificially prolonged, and it is in their best interests that nature should now be permitted to take its inevitable course.”

The boys’ parents argued that it was against their Islamic faith to withdraw life support before the children’s brains had stopped working and that turning it off was effectively killing them. To this Justice Holman responded:

“Several times in the present case the father has said that to withdraw the artificial ventilation, now that it has been commenced, involves killing the child. I completely understand how he perceives it that way and, indeed, that may be the viewpoint also of his Islamic faith. However…there is, and can be, no legal (nor indeed ethical) distinction between a decision to withhold artificial ventilation and a decision to withdraw or discontinue it once started. In neither case does the decision involve killing the child. The child is not killed. He dies because of the natural result or effect of his underlying disorder or disease.”

NZHPA considers that this judicial decision is highly relevant to the current discussion on end of life issues in New Zealand. To clarify for the purpose of present debate, not only is this not a case of killing these children, but neither is it a case of euthanasia (as some mistakenly consider switching off life support to be). Euthanasia is intrinsically different from a situation where futile or unduly burdensome life-prolonging treatments are withheld or withdrawn. In these situations, the intention is to reject the futile or unduly burdensome treatment, not to kill the patient.

Euthanasia is similarly distinct from a situation where a patient is given medication in order to alleviate his or her suffering, even if this risks hastening their death. Here the intention is to alleviate the patient’s suffering via the medication, not to kill them by administering a lethal dose of drugs. If the intention is in fact to kill the patient via the medication or by withholding or withdrawing treatment, it would correctly be called euthanasia.

Such examples have been confused as constituting euthanasia and have been used by pro-euthanasia advocates to say that euthanasia is happening already and that it should therefore be legalised. The fact that something unlawful happens in society is not sufficient reason to legalise it, and as noted above, such examples are not euthanasia as the intention to put the patient to death is absent.

Some people criticise those who distinguish between intended and unintended hastening of death. However, to understand the distinction one only needs to consider the intentions of leaders who sent their soldiers to fight the Nazis. These leaders would have known that they were sending their soldiers into situations where many deaths were inevitable, but the leaders’ intention was to defeat the Nazis, not to cause the deaths of their soldiers.

Let’s be crystal clear that we

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Serious Flaws in Survey on Physician-Assisted Dying

Dr Catherine Hallagan, Chair NZHPA
General Practitioner, Wellington

Many health professionals will have recently received an invitation from their professional organisation to participate in an online survey regarding “physician-assisted dying”.

The research approved by the University of Auckland’s Human Participants Ethics Committee (UAHPEC) appears to have process and methodology flaws that should be of

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Dutch Euthanasia Rate Continues to Rise

According to the 2014 Annual Report by the Netherlands’ regional euthanasia review committees, there were 5,306 reported cases of assisted dying in 2014, a 10% rise on the previous year, and double those reported in 2009 (2636).

A spokesman for the review committees said that the increase may be due to a growing social

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An Investigation into Ending One’s Life in New Zealand – Have Your Say!

The Health Select Committee at Parliament is holding an investigation into Ending One ‘s Life in New Zealand. It will investigate:

1. The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’ s life.
2. The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives.
3. The attitudes of New Zealanders toward the ending of one ‘s life and the current legal situation.
4. International experiences.

The Investigation is being held in response to a petition promoted by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. Please make your own individual submission to the Health Select Committee Inquiry. You can do this by writing a submission for email or for posting to Parliament.

*Head your submission “Health Select Committee: Petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others”
*Attach a covering letter with your name, home address, email address and day-time phone number
*State whether you would like to make an oral submission
*Send two hard copies

The Content:

(a) State your general position.
(b) Stick to the four areas in the HSC Terms of Reference outlined above.
(c) Discuss a few key points. You do not need to write on all four areas of reference.
(d) Submissions can be as short as one sentence, and ideally, not longer than two pages.
(e) State your views in personal words. Don’ t just cut and paste someone else’s views.
(f) Prepare a

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Royal College of General Practitioners opposed to Law Change on Euthanasia

NZHPA is very pleased that the Royal College of General Practitioners in England is opposed to the Legalisation of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. NZHPA hopes that health professionals here will follow the example of the RCGP. It believes that the medical and nursing professions should be united in rejecting any moves to legalise Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in New Zealand.

Read about the RCGP’s position in the link

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On Falling Abortion Rates: Good News and Cause for Reflection

Abortion rates are declining in the United States and in New Zealand. The reasons are varied and complex. NZHPA readers will find the statement below is relevant when they reflect on the drop in abortion numbers. The statement was made by Richard M. Doerflinger in Public Discourse on Feb 10th 2014. He was commenting on the American situation but the explanation can also be applied to Aotearoa – New

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Paediatric Palliative Medicine Community deeply concerned about Belgian legislation permitting Euthanasia of Children

Here is the official Declaration from the ICPCN (International Children’s Palliative Care Network). It outlines the Network’s opposition to the Euthanasia of Children. Legislation to this effect was passed by the Belgian Parliament on 12th Feb 2014.
We believe that all children (neonates, children and young people) have the right to the best quality of

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Moves to Restore the Right to Conscientious Objection in Victoria, Australia

Below is an interesting article published with permission from its author, Dr Dave Andrusko. It was first published in the National Right to Life News Today on Nov 7th 2013.  The headline reads: Pro-lifers and others in Victoria push to protect right of conscience for physicians who want no part in any abortion

Dr. Mark Hobart

Last month NRL

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The Right to Freedom of Conscience under Attack

Some academics have recently suggested that conscientious objection is an unwarranted barrier to the provision of reproductive health care. In April 2013, the American Journal of Public Health published an article  “Abortion Law Around the World: Progress and Pushback.” The authors perceive that there has been a rise in “unregulated conscientious objection” . They consider that this is a barrier for women trying to access lawful abortions. NZHPA believes that one inference that can be drawn from the article is

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Medical Aid in Dying – the “MAD” new phrase for Euthanasia

Please read the following link and view its associated video to learn about the illogical language used in euthanasia legislation. NZHPA maintains that Conscientious Objection must be protected for all health professionals who want nothing to do with the provision of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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Empathy – The Emotion that Connects Us

Health professionals need to practice ethics of a high standard in order to provide excellent health care. They must have empathy with their patients. Empathy is a human emotion that connects people positively to one another. No matter what one ‘s role is as a health professional eg a nurse, a physician, a physiotherapist or a pharmacist, each health practitioner must show empathy in caring for a patient. An NZHPA mantra could be “Every health professional needs empathy!” You’ re invited to click on the link as it portrays this message in a beautiful way.

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Euthanasia by Stealth: The Slippery Slope

Once euthanasia or assisted-suicide is legalised for a select group, before long the argument is put that it’s discriminatory not to allow it for others, including those incapable of giving consent. Legalising euthanasia in any form will inevitably lead to euthanasia in all forms. Is this what we really want for New Zealand? Read here to see

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University Professor Urges Medical Graduates to show Courage

Professor D Robin Taylor, University of Otago, Graduation Address
Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Mayor, Members of the University Council, academic colleagues, graduating students, family members and friends – tena koutou, tena koutou,tena koutou.
It is a great privilege to have been asked to give this graduation address. It is a special occasion for you

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Professor of Nursing writes about Alzheimer’s & Euthanasia Debate

Negative attitudes towards Alzheimer ‘s disease are an undue influence on the euthanasia debate, claims an Australian bioethicist and Professor of Nursing at Deakin University.

Professor Megan-Jane Johnstone has examined the ‘ Alzheimerisation ‘ of the euthanasia debate in a new book, Alzheimer’ s disease, media representations and the politics of euthanasia: constructing risk and selling death in an aging society.

“Alzheimer’s has been portrayed as the ‘disease of the century’ that is poised to have a near catastrophic impact on the world’s healthcare system as the population ages,” Professor Johnstone said.

“This representation of the disease – along with other often used terms such as ‘living dead’, a ‘funeral that never ends’ and a ‘fate worse than death’ – places Alzheimer’s as a soft target in the euthanasia debate because it plays to people’s fears of developing the disease and what it symbolises. It positions Alzheimer’s as something that requires a remedy; that remedy increasingly being pre-emptive and beneficent euthanasia.”

Professor Johnstone acknowledges that euthanasia is a polarising and emotive issue, however she warns that the public could be unduly swayed by the

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Should medical staff be able to opt out on grounds of conscience?

Watch this topical debate on Conscientious Objection following a recent landmark Court ruling in the United Kingdom. Scotland Tonight looked at the issue of conscientious objection after the successful appeal by two midwives against an order to delegate, supervise, or support staff involved in providing abortions. NZHPA is very pleased to learn of the positive outcome to this case.

Click on the

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Nursing Voice Needed in Euthanasia Debate

A proposed new law allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide would put both nurses and vulnerable patients at risk says Julie Maher, RN, BA, MA. She is postgraduate co-ordinator and senior lecturer, postgraduate certificate in Hospice Palliative Care, Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Porirua, New Zealand. Julie is also a Member of NZHPA. 


Labour MP and health

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BMJ – What’s wrong with assisted dying

Iona Heath president, Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). The RCGP is the professional membership body for family doctors in the UK and overseas.
Campaigns in support of assisted dying seem to be predicated on an excessively rosy view of society and the individuals within it, says Iona Heath, writing in a personal capacity.

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Debates on euthanasia: The soul of medicine is on trial

Sinéad Donnelly

Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Capital & Coast District Health Board (CCDHB), Wellington
Adjunct Professor, School Biological Sciences, Victoria University, Wellington
Senior Clinical Lecturer, Otago School of Medicine, Wellington

This article was originally published in the Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 23-November-2012, Vol 125 No 1366

I come from a long line

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Conscientious Objection in New Zealand: Its Legal Status and Significance

Dr Catherine Hallagan

BA MBChB Dip Obstetrics FRNZCGP

April 2013
I will give a doctor’s view of the issues from a personal and professional perspective since the two are closely intertwined. My approach is to discuss:

Conscience and Conscientious Objection
New Zealand Laws relevant to Conscientious Objection
Key Moments in my professional journey
Conscientious Objection

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Freedom of Conscience and the Needs of the Patient

Sean Murphy – Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project – www.consciencelaws.org
Presented at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Conference
New Developments – New Boundaries
Banff, Alberta (November 9-12, 2001)
Sponsored by Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Misericordia Hospital, Edmonton, Alberta.



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A Life Story – A tribute to Dr John Crowley

Below are excerpts from a eulogy given in honour of Dr John Crowley. He was an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from the Manawatu who was a member of the New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance. He was a mentor to many colleagues and he always upheld the right to conscientious objection while following best practice guidelines

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Position Statement on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance Incorporated
Te Hononga Mātanga Hauora o Aotearoa
The New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance Inc (NZHPA) opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Euthanasia is the deliberate ending of a patient’s life by a health professional. Participation in this practice is unethical. It remains wrong, regardless of a request for it from

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Does euthanasia already happen in NZ?

Do hospitals and hospices already effectively practice euthanasia through administering pain relief or withholding medications?

Radio New Zealand interviews Sinead Donnelly of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine and Anne Morgan of Hospice NZ.

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Medical Council drops abortion case

The cost of legal action has led the Medical Council to abandon its proposed statement on the advice doctors should give when they have a conscientious objection to abortion.

Having spent more than $214,000 defending its draft statement in court, the council decided it must balance financial prudence with the desire to provide guidelines,

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GP pleased Medical Council drops abortion statement appeal

Media statement: Dr Catherine Hallagan, a General Practitioner from Wellington and spokesperson for the New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance, told NZ Doctor that the NZHPA is very pleased that the Medical Council has abandoned its appeal.

Dr Hallagan said that she had felt strongly about challenging the Medical Council ‘s draft statement on “Beliefs and medical practice”since first reading it in 2009. “I was shocked at what I read and I believed that the Medical Council was planning to do something which would overstep the law. If published, I thought that the obligations imposed by the guidelines would override a doctor’ s lawful right to conscientious objection, especially

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GP pleased Medical Council drops abortion statement appeal

Media statement from Catherine Hallagan

Dr Catherine Hallagan, a General Practitioner from Wellington and spokesperson for the New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance, told NZ Doctor that the NZHPA is very pleased that the Medical Council has abandoned its appeal.

Dr Hallagan said that she had felt strongly about challenging the Medical Council ‘s draft statement on “Beliefs and medical practice”since first reading it in 2009. “I was shocked at what I read and I believed that the Medical Council was planning to do something which would overstep the law. If published, I thought that the obligations imposed by the guidelines would override a doctor’ s lawful right

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The Problem of Complicity

Sean Murphy – Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project – www.consciencelaws.org
It appears that most people are willing to grant that a health care worker who has serious moral objections to a procedure should not be compelled to perform it or assist directly with it. However, many people find it more difficult to understand why some

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Referral: A False Compromise

Sean Murphy – Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project – www.consciencelaws.org

Many people, grappling with concerns about freedom of conscience, agree that health care workers should not be forced to participate in procedures or services to which they object for religious, moral, or ethical reasons. However, their agreement is frequently qualified by the condition that

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Back to court to fight out doctors’ abortion advice role

Legal debate is set to resume over a doctor ‘s obligations when consulted about abortion.

The Medical Council has appealed last year’ s High Court judgement requiring it to change its guidance to doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion.

Talks have failed so far

Talks are continuing between the council and those who brought a case against it, says council chair John Adams.

“We have always been hopeful of a resolution, but have lodged the appeal.”


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Medical council appeals abortion ruling

The Medical Council is appealing a High Court judgment that it must change its advice to doctors who conscientiously object to abortion.

Council chairman John Adams said Tawa Medical Centre GP Catherine Hallagan and the New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance had last year instigated a judicial review which challenged the council ‘s advice to doctors on abortion and their own personal beliefs.

Wellington High Court judge Justice Alan MacKenzie ruled in their favour, saying when a woman requests an abortion, the proper course for a doctor who has a conscientious objection is to decline to embark upon the process and to inform her she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.

But the Medical Council wanted doctors to be required to be sure they were referring the patient to another doctor who could give information on all the options.

“The council had argued its statement recognised a doctor’ s right to

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Abortion statement defeated in court

The Medical Council is considering amendments to its draft statement on how doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion must respond to a patient requesting an abortion.

Conscientiously objecting doctors have successfully challenged the statement in court, saying it wrongly requires them to give advice that might facilitate the patient obtaining an abortion.


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Doctors’ right to refuse abortion advice upheld

The High Court has upheld the right of doctors who object to abortion to opt out of giving advice to patients seeking the procedure.

The court last month heard a case taken by Wellington GP Catherine Hallagan, who objected to proposed changes to Medical Council guidelines regarding beliefs and medical practice.

Her lawyer said

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Judge upholds doctors’ stance on abortion advice

The High Court has upheld the right of doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion to opt out of giving advice to patients seeking the procedure.

The case, which was heard last month, was taken by a Wellington GP who objected to proposed changes to Medical Council guidelines on how doctors deal with abortion

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Doctors’ abortion guidelines overstep law

New Medical Council guidelines for doctors dealing with the issue of abortion have overstepped the law and need to be amended, the High Court has ruled.

Among the requirements in the council ‘s beliefs and medical practice statement, doctors were required to ensure patients were aware that abortion was an option if they were concerned about their pregnancies.

Doctors who did not want to provide the service could refer the request elsewhere, informing the person it could be obtained from another health practitioner, or a family planning clinic.

A group of doctors raised objection to the statement in a judicial review at the High Court in Wellington last month, saying it wrongly required them to give advice that might facilitate the patient obtaining an abortion.

The group’ s lawyer, Harry Waalkens, QC, said the statement was not in line with the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act itself, which excluded

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Challengers defeat council in abortion ruling

The Medical Council has overstepped the law in its draft statement on how doctors who hold a conscientious objection to abortion must respond to a patient requesting an abortion.

The statement must be amended, says a ruling from High Court judge Alan MacKenzie, released today.

The judge has accepted some of the arguments of

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Decision reserved on abortion advice

Doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion have asked the court to stop the Medical Council from requiring them to give patients more information than they consider reasonable.

The council ‘s Beliefs and Medical Practice statement misinforms doctors on their obligations toward women seeking abortion, according to Tawa Medical Centre GP Catherine Hallagan and a group called the New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance.

They were the applicants in a judicial review hearing in the High Court at Wellington last month. Justice Alan MacKenzie reserved his decision.
The Medical Council had got it wrong, said Harry Waalkens QC on behalf of the applicants.

The council’ s most recent statement, kept confidential until the hearing, tells doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion that, if consulted by a pregnant woman

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Medical Council defends its abortion rules

The Medical Council is standing by its requirement that doctors ensure women have access to information on abortion services.

It is not sufficient for doctors with a conscientious objection to inform a patient requesting an abortion that she can go to a Family Planning clinic or another doctor, the council ‘s lawyer told the High Court at Wellington today.

Mary Scholtens QC is responding for the council to a challenge to its latest Beliefs and medical practices statement.

Statement compatible with doctors’ and patients ‘ rights – defence lawyer

The council statement requires a doctor who chooses because of a conscientious objection not to provide a service, to give a patient the names and contact details of doctors who do provide the service.

In this case, the council says the details are of doctors who provide information on a woman’ s

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Doctors challenge abortion rules

Doctors have been misinformed on their obligations toward women seeking abortion, says the lawyer in a High Court challenge to the Medical Council.

The council ‘s “Beliefs and Medical Practice” statement had got it wrong, said Harry Waalkens QC on behalf of doctors challenging the statement in a judicial review in the High Court at Wellington today [1 November].

Tawa GP Catherine Hallagan and a group of like-minded health professionals are taking the case.

The council’ s most recent statement, kept confidential until now, tells doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion, if consulted by a pregnant woman who wishes to have an abortion, they

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Anti-abortion doctors challenge guidelines

Anti-abortion doctors have gone to court to challenge new Medical Council guidelines on how physicians with personal objections to abortion must deal with patients.

The doctors filed an application in the High Court last week for a judicial review of the guidelines, titled “Beliefs and Medical Practice” .

The Medical Council is withholding the guidelines until the

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