“The End of Life Choice Bill, which has already passed its first reading in Parliament, poses a major threat to the well-being of New Zealand society”, says Dr Stuart Lange, the interim National Director of the New Zealand Christian Network.
“Allowing individuals the freedom to choose euthanasia rather than endure possible future suffering seems like an attractive option to many in our society, which places such a premium on individual freedom. Over time, however, State-sanctioned provision for medically-assisted suicide would inevitably dangerously compromise society’s commitment to the compassionate care of those who are terminally ill, disabled, elderly, or depressed. Instead of society valuing and supporting the lives of vulnerable people, there would be a growing tacit encouragement for such people to choose to have their lives ended. As has happened in some other countries, voluntary euthanasia would inescapably lead to the increasing incidence of involuntary euthanasia, the ultimate breach of human rights.”
As a Christian organisation, New Zealand Christian Network obviously holds strongly to the value of every human life. But we are by no means alone in that. Our whole society is predicated on a commitment to human life, and on respect and compassionate care for vulnerable people. So is our medical system, which we currently trust to care rather than to kill. This bill puts all that in grave jeopardy.
We believe the End of Life Choice Bill is unnecessary. The vast majority of people, including those with terminal illness, do not in fact die in great pain, and New Zealand’s palliative care system is well able to prevent most extreme pain.
Dr Lange adds: “In the cause of individual freedom, and with an avoidance of all safe-guards, the Seymour Bill could readily leave New Zealand society wide open to all the most chilling effects of euthanasia. If New Zealand must have euthanasia – which we ourselves believe is neither necessary nor ethical – then this is the worst possible bill to introduce it. The wording of this bill would mean that the State would in effect be providing medically-assisted suicide on demand, not just for terminally-ill people, but for anyone who felt they had a ‘grievous’ condition and requested help to die.”
The Justice Select Committee needs to hear from thinking members of the public. The reality is, if people do not make a submission, silence is interpreted as assent.
New Zealand Christian Network urges churches and individuals to make a submission.