Otago Community Hospice Euthanasia Stance Clear

Posted Thursday September 3, 2020
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Recently the Otago Community Hospice (OCH) released its position on euthanasia-assisted dying ahead of the October referendum on the End of Life Choices Act

This referendum is not asking you if you say yes or no to euthanasia; it is asking if you say yes or no to the End of Life Choices Act. If people vote yes in the referendum, this Act will be law as it is written now.

The OCH is not lobbying or debating for or against euthanasia. But we are opposed to this legislation and we are opposed to delivering euthanasia services. As the key provider of specialist palliative care in Otago, we believe it is really important that our position on the End of Life Choice Act is clear. We want the terminally ill people in Otago and their whanau, who are accessing our services now or who may need us in the future, to understand what it would mean should the Act become law.

We knew our stance would create discussion and it certainly has. The debate and the interpretation of our position has also caused some confusion. I want to take this opportunity to clarify our position.

No matter what, our services will remain available to those who need them throughout Otago, even those who may opt to go down the euthanasia path.

We care for all those who need specialist palliative care in our region. This care is given no matter where the patient lives, what their disease, what their age, their beliefs or their social status. A fundamental principle of hospice and palliative care is to neither hasten nor postpone the natural progression of death. To add, as some have suggested, euthanasia or assisted dying to the services that the hospice should provide would be contrary to this long-standing principle.

We will continue to support all our patients and families by providing excellent palliative care; however, we will not add euthanasia to our services.

Staff will not assess eligibility for assisted dying, nor deliver or be present during the administration of lethal doses of medication.

These medications cannot be administered by anyone on any of our premises.

Having said that, we will absolutely respect a patient’s choice to take this path. It will not stop us caring for them in every other way.

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