Euthanasia-Free NZ made their oral submission to Parliament’s Health Select Committee today on the Investigation into Ending One’s Life In New Zealand.
The investigation, in response to the petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others, received about 22,000 written submissions. Almost three-quarters of these are opposed to changing the law.
Executive Officer, Renée Joubert, asserted that, “Assisted suicide legislation that limits eligibility to any group of people would be discriminatory, arbitrary and a violation of the so-called ‘right to die’.
“If there were such a thing as a right to die, a right to control the timing and manner of one’s death, such a right would belong to everyone,“ she said. “By definition, human rights belong to all humans. It would be arbitrary to limit it to sick people.”
“A law that would limit ‘assisted dying’ to a particular group of people, such as the terminally ill, would discriminate against others who also feel that they are suffering unbearably,” she continued.
“There is no clear boundary between terminal illness, chronic illness and disability. Some chronic conditions can become life-threatening very quickly. Some terminal conditions are also chronic conditions, because people can live with them for years or decades. Many terminal and chronic conditions involve a loss of abilities – i.e. disability – which is why they are distressing.”
“Do terminally ill people necessarily suffer more than chronically ill people? Does someone who is expected to live for six months suffer more than someone who is expected to live for seven months, or a year, or 10 years? Such lines are random.”
The Committee also heard that the term “terminally ill” is ambiguous. “The International literature defines it as anything ranging from the last “few days to a week” to “one or two years” of a person’s life.”
“Suffering is a subjective, meta-physical experience and not dependent on physical diagnosis or symptoms. Two people could have the same diagnosis, the same symptoms and the same prognosis. Only one of them may want to die.”
“Assisted death is requested mainly for non-physical reasons. Therefore a law that bases eligibility on physical conditions would be arbitrary, and ‘assisted dying’ can be merely another means of bringing about suicide.”
Euthanasia-Free NZ Inc. is a nationwide network of individuals from diverse professional and social backgrounds, with diverse philosophical and political beliefs. However, they are united in the belief that the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide poses a great threat to the wellbeing of our society.
Ms Joubert expressed concern about the way a change in law would affect the attitudes, behaviour and social conscience of society.
“Currently the default expectation is that ill, disabled and elderly people should be cared for by society until their natural death. Assisted death as a legal option would make it optional to stay alive and be cared for by society. A person who chooses to stay alive under such a regime may need to justify their choice to themselves and to others, especially since staying alive would be the more expensive option.”
“The mere existence of legal assisted death as an option would put pressure on some people to choose death, especially those who are emotionally vulnerable or dependent on others for aspects of their care.”
“Add to that the fact that safeguards have been ignored and circumvented in every jurisdiction with assisted suicide or euthanasia legislation.”
“Suffering needs to be addressed, but changing the law is not the way to go.”