An application for a change to New Zealand law on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia is not in society’s best interests.
“Lecretia Seales is a courageous woman, afflicted with a terrible disease. It is impossible not to be moved by her tragic situation. Yet her application to the High Court for a ruling on whether current NZ laws in respect of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide breach her rights under the Bill of Rights Act, although intended only to relate to her case, will, if successful, in the long run adversely affect the rights of many others in our society”, says Professor David Richmond, a spokesperson for Euthanasia-Free NZ.
“Ms Seales’ request is superficially a simple one based on personal choice and autonomy. Unfortunately the issues are far more complex for society than that”, he said. “Current laws were drawn up to guarantee citizens the right to life. If Ms. Seales’ actions were to lead eventually to the decriminalisation of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide as she apparently hopes they will, citizens will be guaranteed the right to State sanctioned death – presumably at the hands of doctors. Our observation of how these things work in The Netherlands and Belgium where voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal does not encourage us to think that significant abuses, including being killed without a specific request, will not occur”, he said.
“There are compelling reasons for leaving the law as it is whilst concentrating on providing every care possible to relieve suffering in dying and upholding the dignity of those close to death.”
Euthanasia-Free NZ hopes that this court action will result in a fresh impetus in our society to uphold the right of every citizen including the most vulnerable of us: the elderly, those with disabilities, the dependent and those near the end of life, to respect, care, support, honour – and life.