Euthanasia-Free NZ congratulates the UK House of Commons on rejecting the Marris Assisted Dying bill by an overwhelming 212 majority after an extensive yet respectful debate.
Many MPs commended the medical profession on the excellent work they do, but remarked that doctors are unable to accurately predict how long a patient is expected to live. Such estimates are based on educated guesswork and probability, not certainty. It is therefore arbitrary to limit eligibility to people who have a certain number of months to live. One Member recalled a case in which a relative was expected to die by the weekend, but lived for another eight months.
“The UK decision sends a clear message to New Zealand”, says Renee Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ. “It is a waste of time to debate an assisted suicide bill at committee stage because no safeguards can ever be safe enough. As several MPs remarked, it is simply impossible to prevent vulnerable people being coerced or feeling internal pressure to request death.”
“Such emotional pressure can be subtle and occur behind closed doors. There is no way any third party can be sure that a person has made a truly free and voluntary request for assisted suicide. Assisted suicide and euthanasia legislation lends itself to rubber stamping.”
Euthanasia-Free NZ echoes the sentiment expressed by Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of Care Not Killing: “We hope Parliament will now turn its attention to the real issues facing our country of ensuring that everybody can access the very best care, regardless of whether they are disabled or terminally ill and that we fund this adequately.”
The current Health Select Committee inquiry is an important step in determining the real needs of suicidal New Zealanders and how they can be cared for more effectively. The Committee is investigating why people desire to end their lives and give feedback on the effectiveness of existing support services. More information is available at http://tiny.cc/termsofreference.