New Zealand legislators have passed a bill that would allow a terminally ill person with a diagnosis of fewer than six months to live to seek assisted suicide. The End of Life Choice Bill was passed after a lengthy two-year debate process, but before it becomes law, voters in the country will have their say in a national referendum on the matter.
The bill’s sponsor, David Seymour, spoke of his passion for voluntary euthanasia, referencing his experience with ill people. “Overwhelmingly they have said to me: ‘I have seen bad death. If my time comes and I’m not doing well, I want choice. By the way, it’s nobody else’s business but my own’,” he said in front of Parliament.
The bill was not without its opponents. According to the New Zealand Herald, one of the many concerns with the bill is that there is no requirement for witnesses and no waiting or cool-down period for people choosing to die.
“The question is not whether some people will die in the way the bill allows. But whether many people could die in a way that the bill does not allow,” said legislator Chris Penk.
Penk’s concerns are not unfounded. While proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide claim that it is “compassionate,” and “death with dignity,” this is not the reality. Evidence has shown that elderly suicides increase the number of suicides overall. Additional studies reveal that depression – not the desire to prevent pain – is a major cause of assisted suicide in terminally ill patients. When the depression is treated, these patients often decide against ending their own lives.
New Zealand’s advocates for euthanasia may claim to have good intentions, but advocating for killing for any reason starts down a very slippery slope. Seymour’s claim that death is “nobody’s business but my own” opens the door to a dangerous precedent, one in which people could request death simply because they want to die. As we’re already seeing in Europe and elsewhere, people are requesting euthanasia for non-terminal things like mental illnesses or disabilities. In some countries, even children are being killed.
Right to Life New Zealand blasted the latest legislation in a statement, saying:
Euthanasia is about doctors killing their patients or assisting in their suicide. It is intrinsically evil; no referendum can legitimise that which is evil. The prohibition against taking the life of another human being is the foundation of the law and medicine. It is always wrong to kill another innocent human being. The approval of the community, even in a referendum, can never make murder acceptable. A referendum is an attempt to seduce and to implicate the whole community in the murder of the vulnerable.
The voters of New Zealand still have a chance to ensure that this dangerous law is not enacted. Let’s hope that these voters recognize euthanasia for what it is: the tragic taking of a precious life.
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