Media Release  –  5 June 2015

The wider implications of assisted suicide legislation need to be considered

“I wish to convey our deep condolences to Lecretia Seales’ family and friends”, says Renee Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ. “I’m sad that she died so young but relieved to read that she died comfortably, relatively quickly and surrounded by loved ones – Not the long, painful death she feared.”

Euthanasia-Free NZ commend the Justice David Collins on upholding the law and affirming the ordinary meaning of section 179 of the Crimes Act in his judgement on the case brought by Lecretia Seales. We agree that legislative change is the responsibility of parliament, not the Courts.

The legalisation of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide is not merely a matter of individual choice and should not be based on individual tragic cases. It’s a major shift in public policy, with wider implications and unintended consequences for all of society that need to be carefully considered.Essentially voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation makes it legal for one person to be involved in deliberately causing the death of someone else. It’s not “my body, my choice” but “my body, someone else’s choice”.

It’s impossible to prevent abuse and coercion. No matter how safeguards are written, they will be unenforceable, because euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation relies on self-reporting. In Belgium and the Netherlands each of the legal safeguards have been ignored by some doctors, who then simply didn’t report the deaths as assisted deaths.

“As a society we need to do everything possible to relieve people’s suffering and ensure that everyone dies comfortably and with dignity. However, this legislation is not the solution. It’s simply too dangerous for society,” Ms Joubert concludes.