Since legalizing assisted suicide in New Zealand, 66 people have been killed, with another 30 deemed eligible, according to statistics recently released by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health.
The law took effect in early November of 2021, and the report covers the period of time from then until the end of March 2022. According to the report, including the 66 people successfully euthanized, over 200 people have applied so far. Of that number, 59 people were completing the required processes prior to being euthanized at the time of the report, 30 people died in process, 40 people were deemed ineligible, and 11 people withdrew their applications. No one was referred for psychiatric care.
The majority (79%) of those who applied for assisted suicide were white New Zealanders (“Pākehā”), a general trend also seen in the U.S. that has defied expectations of euthanasia-supporters, Live Action News has reported.
This high number over the short span of 144 days has raised the alarm among pro-life New Zealanders, especially considering the concerns around the lack of safeguards for the vulnerable, and some polls showed up to 80% of voters did not understand what the law would entail.
As Live Action News reported, the Salvation Army raised the alarm about the law. “We believe many New Zealanders are unaware of the lack of safeguards contained within the End of Life Choice Act and vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those struggling with mental illness, will be especially at risk from this law,” said Salvation Army territorial commander Mark Campbell.
And while some applications have been completed in weeks, The Nathaniel Centre’s John Kleinsman, a bioethicist, told the New Zealand Herald that he was alarmed to hear of some applications taking only a few days. “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.
However, some were not satisfied with the already high number of those reaching for an end to their own lives. The End of Life Choice Society claimed that not enough people with neurological conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, were able to end their lives, relative to the number of those with cancer. “The way the legislation is written has skewed that result. There’s an imbalance between the number of people who suffer from neurological diseases and the number who were able to find relief,” said the group’s acting national president, Ann David, to the Herald.
In countries that have legalized euthanasia, the vulnerable – elderly, mentally ill, disabled, and others suffering from non-terminal illnesses – have almost always ended up as victims, as any initial legal protections fall by the wayside over time. In Belgium, the number of people euthanized for mental illness just doubled from the previous year, as Live Action News reported. In Colombia, the first non-terminally ill patient died from euthanasia earlier this year after a Colombian court expanded assisted suicide beyond the those with terminal illness in 2021.
Additional New Zealand Ministry of Health reports are expected to be released on a quarterly basis.
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