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Right To Life: Euthanasia

Dear Sir,


The results of a recent TV3 NFO poll on euthanasia are challenged. Advocates of the defeated Death with Dignity Bill claim that a TV3 NFO poll of 1000 voters found 69 per cent thought the law should be changed to give people the right to die.

The poll is misleading and manipulating public opinion on a very important issue. The question posed in the survey was wrong. We do not need a change in the law to allow for terminally ill or incurably ill patients to refuse treatment.

It is important to understand that there is no law medical group church or anti-euthanasia organsiation which insists on unnecessary, useless, heroic or unduly burdensome measures to keep a dying person alive. The right to refuse treatment is enshrined in the Health and Disability Act code of consumer’s Rights.

Code 7 Right to make an informed choice and give informed consent. In considering euthanasia it is important to recognise that euthanasia is about doctors killing their patients.

Euthanasia may be voluntary, involuntary or compulsory. If voluntarily administered by oneself, it is a form of suicide. If administered by another in an involuntary or compulsory way, it is a form of murder. If administered by another with the victims consent or cooperation it is both suicide and murder.

The question that should have been asked in the TV3 info poll is “Should the law allow doctors to kill their patients who are incurably ill or terminally ill or assist in their suicide when requested by their patients.”

If this question was the subject of an info poll it is believed that the result would have been substantially different and a genuine reflection of public opinion and support for the sanctity of life ethic and for upholding the 2400 year old Hippocratic tradition.

This tradition was reiterated in the World Medical Associations International Code of Ethics in 1941. It states “a doctor must always bear in mind the importance of preserving human life from the time of conception until death.”

This tradition is incorporated in the New Zealand Medical Association Code of Ethics. With respect to the dying patient it states “always bear in mind the obligation of preserving life, but allow death to occur with dignity and comfort when the death of the body appears to be inevitable.”

The NZMA in line with the World Medical Association states that euthanasia in unethical. Peter Brown MP the sponsor of the defeated Death with Dignity Bill claims that “Parliament did all New Zealanders a huge disservice by not allowing the matter to be formally debated.”

Right to Life disputes that conclusion. The first responsibility of Parliament is to protect the inalienable right to life of all New Zealanders from conception to natural death. Our right to life is conferred by our creator and not by Parliament.

The Crimes Act 1961 in section 158 prohibits Homicide the killing of a human being directly or indirectly by any means. Culpable homicide is either murder or manslaughter. Section 63 states that no one has the right to consent to be killed. It is also a crime to encourage or assist any person to commit suicide,

The state does not have authority to withdraw this legal protection from the incurably or terminally ill. The state therefore does not have authority to grant doctors the “right” to kill their patients or assist in their suicide.

Right to Life commends the sixty MPs who voted against the Death with Dignity Bill at its first reading. In doing so they gave recognition to the fact that this was a debate that Parliament should not be having. They have defended the integrity of Parliament and temporarily protected this nation from the scourge of euthanasia.

We should remember that the international euthanasia movement has eugenics as its objective. It is nothing to do with relief of pain. It was not meant to be voluntary and mercy is not its native. Its mainthrust was against the mentally ill.

We should recognise that abortion and euthanasia are connected and both come from a culture of death. Euthanasia will continue to threaten our society until Parliament provides effective legal protection for the right of life of unborn children who are being killed, sanctioned and funded by the state.

Right to life challenges those MPs who voted for the Death with Dignity Bill to support palliative care by encouraging the Government to make palliative care a core health service with full funding provided by the Government.

Ken Orr Spokesperson Right to Life New Zealand Inc

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