Legal voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are dangerous to society
We care about suffering, but changing the law is NOT the solution.
No safeguards can protect people from subtle, or not so subtle, pressure to request death. Elderly, disabled, mentally ill or emotionally vulnerable people are at risk.
Legal physician-assisted suicide amounts to state-facilitated suicide and would contradict suicide prevention.
These are some of the many reasons why our organisation warn against the legalisation of ‘assisted dying’, ‘aid in dying’ or ‘end of life choice’ – all euphemisms for voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.
A law change would affect everyone
The legalisation of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide would affect all of society, including those who don’t want such an ‘end-of-life option’ for themselves.
Currently our society accepts that people need to be cared for until their natural death, even if it costs money. If legal assisted suicide would become an option, staying alive would become optional too. Because death would be cheaper than care and treatment, there will be pressure on people to choose the cheaper option.
The mere existence of legal assisted suicide as an option would put pressure on people to choose it. If they don’t choose it, they would effectively choose to be a financial burden on society when they don’t have to. The so-called ‘right to die’ will become a duty a die. There will be subtle pressure on elderly, disabled and ill people to ‘do the right thing’ and free up health resources for the young and the able-bodied. Such pressure may increase over time.
The question to consider is not, “Should certain individuals have access to an assisted death?“
The question is, “Should criminal law change for the whole country?” A law change would affect all of us.
New Zealanders have had the opportunity to express their views on this complex issue during an 18-month-long parliamentary investigation. After extensive media coverage the Health Select Committee received more than 21,000 unique written submissions – a record on any issue.
New Zealanders have affirmed their support for the current law prohibiting the aiding and abetting of suicide (which is the clause that makes voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide illegal).
Safeguards are unenforceable in practice
Nowhere in the world have legal assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia been successfully contained and regulated. Any safeguard would be unenforceable, because assisted suicide laws are based on self-reporting.
It’s simply impossible to prevent coercion, pressure and abuse. The medically or emotionally vulnerable members of our society are particularly at risk.
Because pressure can be subtle and occur behind closed doors over a long period of time, it would be impossible to ascertain whether consent is genuine and choice is truly free.
The illness and death of a loved one, and the grief process involved, can be an emotionally harrowing experience. However, ‘assisted dying’ – making it legal for people to deliberately help others to die by suicide – is NOT the solution.
We believe true ‘aid in dying’ and compassionate care mean walking alongside a suffering person and their loved ones. We advocate that medical professionals do everything possible to relieve their patients’ physical and psychological pain, and enable them to be dying with dignity, but without crossing the line of intentionally ending a person’s life. Euthanasia is ethically different from other end of life options, such as switching off life support, do-not-resuscitate orders, or withdrawing futile medical treatment.
Legal ‘assisted dying’ would not be in society’s best interests.
Urge MPs to reject the Seymour bill
Contrary to what some New Zealanders believe, ‘aid-in-dying’ is not being proposed only for people with a terminal illness or those suffering from pain.
David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill would make almost any New Zealander over 18 eligible for assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia by lethal drugs, even if they have a disability, a chronic physical or mental illness, or an ageing-related or degenerative medical condition. This dangerous bill should be voted down!