In November of 2021, the law legalizing assisted suicide in New Zealand took effect, and it has already had devastating results: 143 people have died, and one investigation has been opened.
The New Zealand Herald reported that 400 people had applied for assisted suicide through the month of June, and 143 died in this manner — more than double the amount that were reported to have died just months earlier in April. End of Life Choice Society President Ann David also boasted that she has received “glowing reports” about assisted suicide, and that those who did not qualify were “bitterly disappointed.”
Additionally, there have been four complaints within the first five months, one of which was upheld by the ministry’s assisted dying secretariat, which was then referred to the Health and Disability Commissioner. An investigation has been opened.
In April, there were 66 reported deaths, with over 200 people having applied for assisted suicide. Both in April and in the most recent statistics, the vast majority of people who applied for assisted suicide were white New Zealanders, or Pākehā. A bioethicist for the Nathaniel Centre, John Kleinsman, also raised questions in April to the New Zealand Herald about how quickly the process would often be. “It happened so quickly, without time to address what might have been deeper, underlying concerns – which is what palliative care is all about,” he said.
Statistics have shown that one to two people choose assisted suicide every week in New Zealand, a number that is expected to rise with time. Disturbing claims also circulated in December of 2021, with reports that doctors were being paid by the government to euthanize patients who had COVID-19. UK Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a professor of palliative medicine, harshly criticized the scheme as subverting the point of medicine.
“It is bizarre that a country which has been trying to protect [its] citizens by closing down completely from a virus from which people can fully recover … is now suggesting that these patients should be killed by their doctors. It turns the ethos of medicine on its head,” she said, adding, “You really cannot predict death 100%. So why not support them while they are dying and leave the door open in case they are in the group that defies all odds and recovers completely?”
In an e-mailed statement, Right to Life New Zealand said it is working to have the assisted suicide law repealed.
“Right To Life is committed to the repeal of the End of Life Choice Act 2019,” spokesman Ken Orr said. “We will seek to expose it for the threat that it is to the most vulnerable. We will vigorously oppose the anticipated attempts by ACT to extend the scope of the killing to include those with a disability and the inclusion of advance directives. We will not rest until this evil legislation is repealed.”
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