Understanding the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Staff of the Nathaniel Centre

Introduction

Brief background re the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and its use in Aotearoa. This article updates earlier information in light of the most recent research ....

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Issue 61 online

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Issue 61 of the Nathaniel Report is now available online here here.

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The issue contains articles on euthanasia and cannabis that we trust you will find informative in the lead-up to the referendum questions that all voters will be asked to vote on.

We understand that PDFs are not an ideal format for people who are visually impaired. For those of you who may struggle to read the PDF, there is also an option to have the articles read aloud to you through a web app called Natural Readers:

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    We trust that you find something of interest in this issue.

 

Issue 62 online

issue62-coverGreetings.

Issue 62 of the Nathaniel Report is now available online here (PDF, 200Kb)

The issue contains articles on euthanasia and cannabis that we trust you will find informative in the lead-up to the referendum questions that all voters will be asked to vote on.

We understand that PDFs are not an ideal format for people who are visually impaired. For those of you who may struggle to read the PDF, there is also an option to have the articles read aloud to you through a web app called Natural Readers:

  • Go to https://www.naturalreaders.com/ using your preferred browser
  • Click on “Go To Online Reader” 
  • Drag the PDF file above and drop in the text box on the natural readers website as per the instructions 
  • You can choose the accent and the speed of the reader 
  • Go to the page or article that you wish to have read out and ‘play’ and ‘pause’ as you would with any other audio file.
    We trust that you find something of interest in this issue.

 

Issue 64 online

image-64Greetings.

Issue 64 of the Nathaniel Report is now available online here (PDF, 200Kb)

The issue contains articles on euthanasia, sustainability and abortion that we trust you will find informative.

We understand that PDFs are not an ideal format for people who are visually impaired. For those of you who may struggle to read the PDF, there is also an option to have the articles read aloud to you through a web app called Natural Readers:

  • Go to https://www.naturalreaders.com/ using your preferred browser
  • Click on “Go To Online Reader” 
  • Drag the PDF file above and drop in the text box on the natural readers website as per the instructions 
  • You can choose the accent and the speed of the reader 
  • Go to the page or article that you wish to have read out and ‘play’ and ‘pause’ as you would with any other audio file.
    We trust that you find something of interest in this issue.

 

Do You Support the Proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill? - A Resource for Voters

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Find Out More About the Proposed End of Life Choice Act

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Do you Support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 Coming into Force? – A Resource for Voters

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Notes on COVID-19 Vaccines and the moral implications of their manufacture

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COVID-19 vaccine – Should Catholics vaccinate using an ethically compromised vaccine?

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Reading and Re-reading Laudato Si’ – Combining Realism and Optimism with Ethics, Science and Faith Jim McAloon [Synopsis only]

In this article, Jim McAloon offers a succinct overview of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter in Reading and Re-Reading Laudato Si’ – Combining Realism and Optimism with Ethics, Science and Faith. In particular, he draws attention to the distorted relationship that we have formed with the Earth – namely, the idea that our planet is merely a collection of “resources” to be exploited at will. What is needed is a “conversion, a change of mind and heart”.

The full article is available by subscription to The Nathaniel Report.

“The Future is Accessible”: Celebrating the International Day of People with Disability Zachariah Duke [Synopsis only]

In this article, Zachariah Duke reflects on the ways in which, as a community, we can create a culture of hospitality that celebrates the gift of disability throughout the year. The challenge is to make inclusion an integral part of our everyday lives.

The full article is available by subscription to The Nathaniel Report.

Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home

From the opening paragraph of Laudato Si’, Francis lays out his vision: “… our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.”1

In other words, care for the environment is a relational issue, and at the heart of the problem of climate change is a dysfunctional relationship between humankind and the earth we inherit along with all the life-forms created by God. So, the crisis is as much an internal, spiritual one as it is a physical one.

It is also, as Benedict XVI first observed, a problem that manifests itself in the way we conduct business globally, including the idea of unlimited growth and advancement without respect for the environment. Thus, we read:

economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions constantly dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is. As a result, 'whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule’.2

The deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture in which we live and to our political and economic systems. These are connected to the ways we view the environment and the way we situate ourselves in relation to the world: that is, we can be “united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth”3, or, “if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs.”4

1 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ Of The Holy Father Francis On Care For Our Common Home, n.1.

2 Ibid., n.56.

3 Ibid., n.92.

4 Ibid., n.11.

 

Tribute to Lynette (Lyn) Burt

28 June 1948 – 2 October 2018

 

 

Lyn began working as Administrator for The Nathaniel Centre in February 2000 and had continuous service in that role up to November 2013 when she resigned. During that time Lyn was, in many ways, the public face and public voice of the Centre – responsible for the smooth flow of information, for setting up and overseeing the library and financial systems and for handling the many requests for assistance that came in.

In particular, Lyn proved an outstanding editor of The Nathaniel Report, overseeing the layout, formatting and editing of almost 40 issues. Her eye for detail, and the knowledge she picked up about bioethical issues over the years, was critical to the consistently high standards of this publication, standards that have earned positive feedback over the years from readers not just in New Zealand but all over the world.

Lyn’s longstanding, generous and professional service over many years often went beyond what she was employed and paid for and has had a significant influence on the Church throughout New Zealand.

Prior to and during her employment at The Nathaniel Centre, Lyn worked in various parishes in both voluntary and paid capacities, including Stokes Valley, where she resided until recently, as well as Petone and Mt Victoria parishes. Lyn and her late husband Kerry also served as leaders in the Passionist Family Group movement in Stokes Valley Parish for more than 20 years.

On the 28th of January 2018 Lyn was presented with the Benemerenti Medal, a recognition given by the Pope to members of the laity and clergy for long and outstanding service to the Catholic Church.

Lyn died after a protracted illness during which she showed great courage and faith. In a personal tribute at her funeral, one of Lyn’s sons shared the content of a handwritten note Lyn had made headed up: “What brings me joy.”

  • Grandchildren leaving little notes and drawings around the house for me

  • Hugs & kisses from grandchildren

  • Seeing family enjoying each other’s company

  • Hearing the family laughing

  • Sharing a laugh with friends

  • Being able to do something for someone

May the angels lead you into paradise

May the martyrs come to welcome you

And take you to the holy city

The new and eternal Jerusalem

May the choirs of angels welcome you

And lead you to the side of Sarah and Abraham

And where Lazarus is poor no longer at the city gates

May you find eternal rest

Requiescat in pace Lyn

 

Why Dignity Matters: A Disability Perspective [Synopsis Only]

By John Fox

It is tempting to mistake money, sex, power, health, youth and strength as the basis of being human. 

The full article is available by subscription to The Nathaniel Report

The Nathaniel Centre Oral Submission to the Health Select Committee

  •  

    Requests for euthanasia soon after a stroke or accident are not well-informed … many patients come to find happiness in ways that we simply cannot imagine. - Dr Steven Laureys

  • Twenty to 40 percent of medical diagnoses prove wrong when confronted with the ultimate criterion of truth, the autopsy. This means that the license to cause deaths on the grounds of medical diagnoses can lead to tragic mistakes. - Dr. Richard Fenigsen

  • Euthanasia will inevitably be practised through the various prisms of social inequality and bias that characterise the delivery of social and health services in our country.

  • Legalisation of euthanasia results in normalisation.

1 2 3 4

Oral Submission to the Health Select Committee Inquiry into Ending One’s Life in NZ

The Nathaniel Centre – the NZ Catholic Bioethics Centre

Presenters: Dr John Kleinsman (Director) and Sue Buckley (Researcher)

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you. We will speak to four main points this morning:

  1. Choices are shaped by the context in which we live
  2. The distinction between choice and autonomy
  3. Applying the “precautionary principle”
  4. The caring role of health professionals precludes their involvement in ending the lives of their patients
  1. Choices are shaped by the context in which we live:

One of the arguments most commonly put forward in favour of assisted suicide or euthanasia (for the sake of brevity I will use the term ‘euthanasia’ to cover both practices from here on in even though the terms have a distinct meaning) is that such matters are best left to individuals to choose and it is not for others, including the State, to deny such a choice. Those who are opposed can exercise their choice not to use it and those who want it can exercise their choice. It is presented as a win-win situation.

While our written submission makes clear that we are strongly opposed to euthanasia for very pragmatic reasons, we are not opposed to people exercising choice. However, as a society, we routinely limit people’s choices for the sake of the common good. The key question is whether, with respect to euthanasia, there are sufficiently serious reasons to continue to do so. We say there are.

We believe the strongest arguments against granting individuals the right to choose euthanasia arise when we understand that all choices are made within a context and that context can be either empowering or disempowering. We all need to be cognisant of the following features which define the current NZ context:

- our inability to have open informed conversations about death and dying and what a good death looks like
- our healthcare systems and eldercare support systems are increasingly operating under growing resourcing pressures
- the inability of our laws and regulations to deal with steadily growing rates of elder abuse
- rising rates of mental illness, including depression, especially amongst the elderly
- the negative attitudes of many towards living with any sort of disability or dependence
- rates of suicide that are amongst the highest in the world and still rising, including elderly suicide
- the fact that as many as 2000 New Zealanders are in in psychogeriatric facilities and residential private hospitals without consent or protection - described recently as the newest frontier in illegal detentions in New Zealand
- inequitable access to quality palliative care
- varying levels of competence amongst GP’s in providing quality palliative care
- a changing demographic with growing numbers of elderly

- the increasing social isolation of the elderly and a growing sense amongst many that they are a burden and that society has no place for them
- increasing pressure on families and, simultaneously, a growing expectation that families and communities will carry more of the responsibility of supporting the elderly and dying.

All of which leads us to the conclusion that there has never been a more dangerous time in our country’s history to think about implementing an assisted suicide or euthanasia regime.

The combination of all of these factors create the conditions for a ‘perfect storm’ and has the potential to drive up demand for euthanasia to surprising levels, as has recently happened in Canada where the uptake is three times higher than anyone ever anticipated. While euthanasia may be instituted as a measure of last resort, it will not stay that way.

2.         The distinction between choice and autonomy:
When large numbers of our most vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens along with their families will, for financial or social reasons, find themselves in situations where they lack real choices, it is irresponsible and unjust to then provide them with the choice of prematurely ending their life.

We disagree strongly with the legal counsel for the Human Rights Commission who, just a few weeks ago, appeared before you and defined ‘autonomy’ as, quote, “the ability to make choices for oneself”, end quote. But choice can be conformity when people have little ability to determine the conditions of consent. Competent people can easily find themselves making understandable but terrible choices out of desperation – this is not autonomy. Autonomy arises only when we have a range of real choices and are free to choose.


A commitment to social justice demands firstly that we work to ensure that there is a coincidence between choices and autonomy, but, where that is not possible, or until it is possible, social justice also demands that we must withhold certain choices

In this case, because people’s lives are literally at stake and because there is no effective redress for wrongful death, we must err heavily on the side of caution.  In bioethics we use the term “precautionary principle”.

  1. The Precautionary Principle:

The precautionary principle to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm then, in the absence of empirical evidence that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those supporting the action or policy.

This means it is incumbent on proponents of change to provide indisputable evidence that any regulatory system would be sufficiently safe (and we have yet to have the conversation as to how many wrongful deaths we are willing to accept). In the absence of robust indisputable evidence, the precautionary principle means that even the possibility of significant risks would require that New Zealand should pull back from introducing euthanasia.

Whatever way you interpret the overseas data, even when you look at in the most positive light, it is impossible to conclude that the introduction of euthanasia would NOT lead to significant risks.

The patterns overseas are clear and include:

-          Year on year significant increases in the numbers accessing assisted suicide or euthanasia

-          Inability of regimes to enforce legal requirements

-          Broadening of the scope of eligibility

 

  1. Leave health professionals out of euthanasia

Fourthly, we want to speak to the wording of the original VES petition and, specifically, the request to consider permitting “medically-assisted dying” in New Zealand. The desirability of providing euthanasia needs to be considered separately from the question about who the agents might be.

It is dangerous to assume that that euthanasia belongs within medicine and, besides, it is incorrect to think that we could only have a euthanasia regime if it involved health professionals as the agents.

From a bioethical perspective we argue that euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the very core of the medical and nursing professions.

Consider that we have faith in our justice system precisely because every person has two advocates – one who argues their guilt and one who argues their innocence. Just as we would never entertain abandoning that system and trusting one lawyer to represent both sides of the case, so we should never put health professionals in the position of representing the ‘life’ interests of their patients while also being the judges of their quality of life and the gatekeepers for accessing euthanasia. We would then in effect be asking doctors to be judge, jury and executioner.   

In promoting the idea that health professionals could readily take on this role, the NZ Nurses Organisation, the Human Rights Commission and others, including David Seymour and Maryan Street, have claimed that one of the safeguards for doctors and nurses who do not want to be involved would be a guaranteed right to conscientious objection. However, you need to know that the whole concept of medical conscientious objection is currently under serious threat around the world, including New Zealand. Doctors and nurses can no longer have faith in that right! As MP’s you can have no faith in that as a safeguard.

Conclusion:

The current law may not be perfect but it provides a clear bright line. Moving the bright line of prohibition would create far more problems than it would ever solve.  Apart from the intractable problems of consent and coercion, moving that bright line to some new position would merely create new ‘hard cases’ on the boundary. You would not be solving a problem, you would merely be shifting it.

Good governance involves, among other things, exercising ‘anticipatory governance’ – that is, evaluating the decisions that are made now with an eye to how they will play out in the future. We know from overseas jurisdictions that early safeguards or boundaries inevitably extend to include children, those with mental illness and disability and the elderly who are tired of life.

Succumbing to the ‘choice’ narrative that is dominant in New Zealand today and giving a green light for any form of assisted suicide or euthanasia regime, even a narrow one, will inevitably lead to the same expansions here – experience as well as logic dictates this. The safest way forward is to hold the current line.

Thank you. 

9 November 2016

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“…faith consolidates, integrates and illuminates the heritage of truth acquired by human reason.” Pope Benedict XVI

Latest issue of the Nathaniel Report

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Issue Fifty Nine

December 2019

In his Editorial, titled Euthanasia Memo to MPs: ‘Hard Cases Make Bad Law’, John Kleinsman provides a critical assessment of the speeches he heard during the 3rd reading of the End of Life Choice Bill. That some MPs described the Bill as narrow and robust, while others bemoaned the Bills breadth and lack of effective safeguards, suggests that some of them must have ignored key evidence presented to them. The public need to show a willingness to engage with the evidence.

On the 8th August, a new Abortion Legislation Bill passed its 1st reading in Parliament and was referred to a specially constituted Select Committee. The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and The Nathaniel Centre prepared a written and oral submission to the Select Committee. Our first piece, Joint Written and Oral Submission to the Abortion Legislation Committee, is a slightly edited version of these submissions. A key emphasis in the presentation is that there are always at least two human lives at stake in every abortion.

In our second piece, The Pain of an Abortion: It Can Take Years, Sometimes Decades, psychotherapist Stephanie Kitching offers her personal, candid and compassionate reflections of walking alongside, and bearing witness to, women who have had abortions.

Our third article, The Future is Accessible: Celebrating the International Day of People with Disability, by Zachariah Duke, reflects on the ways in which, as a community, we can create a culture of hospitality that celebrates the gift of disability throughout the year. The challenge is to make inclusion an integral part of our everyday lives.

We next reprint for our readers the Respect Life Sunday Pastoral Letter – Care for Our Environment, published by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference. This letter acknowledges the young people of Aotearoa-New Zealand who have taken to the streets this year as part of the global movement demanding the systemic societal change that is required to tackle the climate crisis. In their letter, the Bishops reflect on Pope Francis’ call to each of us to consider anew what it means to be baptised and sent on mission in a world in which the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth are one and the same.

Finally, following on from the Bishops’ pastoral letter, Jim McAloon offers a succinct overview of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter in Reading and Re-Reading Laudato Si’ – Combining Realism and Optimism with Ethics, Science and Faith. In particular, he draws attention to the distorted relationship that we have formed with the Earth – namely, the idea that our planet is merely a collection of “resources” to be exploited at will. What is needed is a “conversion, a change of mind and heart”.

 

 

 

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With Gratitude

Nathaniel Centre Staff
Issue 15, April 2005

In the six years that the Nathaniel Centre has been in existence as a resource in bioethics for the Catholic Church we have become very aware of the role of our benefactors in sustaining our ministry on behalf of the church in New Zealand. We have been greatly blessed, not only by those who have provided financial support, but also, and perhaps more especially, by those who have provided encouragement and resources for our work.

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Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand's founding document. It was signed on 6 February 1840 at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, by Māori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown, and later by chiefs in other parts of New Zealand. The Treaty is a partnership between the Crown and Māori which marked the beginning of the creation of the nation-state of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The provisions of the Treaty require that the Crown and its agents respect the provisions of the Treaty. These principles, as enunciated by the Royal Commission on Social Policy in 1988 include partnership, protection and participation. While these principles have huge significance in all areas of life in New Zealand, and especially in relation to land and resources, they also have particular relevance in the provision of health services.

Partnership refers to an ongoing relationship between the Crown, it agencies and iwi (the major tribal groupings). In health it means that Māori share in decision-making and control over the nature of their health resources, and providers are expected to demonstrate how their policies and practices benefit Māori service users.

Protection creates an obligation for the Crown to proactively protect Māori health interests. This implies that the Crown and its agencies will seek out opportunities to enhance Māori health through health promotion and preventative strategies.

Participation encompasses building the capacity for Māori participation at all levels in the health and disability sector; enabling Māori communities to identify and provide for their own health needs; and fostering and supporting Māori health workforce development.

The translation of the Treaty into meaningful reality for Māori requires an understanding of the effects of culture on both the healthcare provider and the recipient, and in consideration of bioethical issues. The Treaty partnership constantly challenges the Crown,its healthcare agencies, and all healthcare providers to consider what is best for Māori, who are tangata whenua the people of the land.

Official Government Treaty of Waitangi site

Waitangi Tribunal

 

Year 13 page one

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Submission one

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