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Human rights lawyer speaks out against euthanasia

MEDIA RELEASE: Saturday, 6 April 2019

Human rights lawyer Richard McLeod speaks out against End of Life Choice Bill in #DefendNZ third documentary – A life in chronic pain

Human rights, immigration and refugee lawyer Richard McLeod speaks out against the End of Life Choice Bill in the third documentary released today by #DefendNZ– a grassroots movement opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill.

Richard takes part because he is deeply concerned about the legal deficiencies within the End of Life Choice Bill. Looking to overseas experience, he worries that the already vague and loose criteria within the Bill would expand even further in practice should the Bill pass, exposing more people to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

He sees the End of Life Choice Bill as a dangerous shift in law. He comments in the documentary A life in chronic pain, “Experience overseas shows that, what were initially restrictive criteria, always expand; that the safeguards fall away; that coercion does occur.

“Experience overseas shows that, what were initially restrictive criteria, always expand; that the safeguards fall away; that coercion does occur; that there have been abuses; and that what starts out as a right to die for a few, very quickly becomes a duty to die for many.”

“When I see a proposed law that is going to allow the most vulnerable members of our community to suddenly find themselves eligible to be euthanised or to be helped to commit suicide by the medical profession under the State’s supervision, I get very concerned.”

A life in chronic pain features the story of Dr John Fox of Christchurch, who was born with spastic hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.

John experiences chronic intense pain and mobility decline. His mobility decline means that he is “in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability”. Doctors and lawyers he has consulted say that he could be eligible for euthanasia under the End of Life Choice Bill.

John is very concerned that the End of Life Choice Bill creates a “conveyer belt to suicide” for those who are seriously ill or who have disabilities. He finds this not only greatly troubling but also extremely discriminatory.

John states, “If I were a 25-year-old rugby player, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Suddenly, because I’m sick, I have to stand in front of a camera and say why I think my life is valuable. This in itself is a huge problem.”

As well as Mr McLeod, also complementing John’s story are exclusive commentaries from Dr Mary English (GP and spokesperson for Doctors Say No), Hon Dame Tariana Turia DNZM (former Minister for Disability Issues and Associate Minister of Health), Professor Margaret Somerville (Professor of bioethics, Sydney and Montreal) and Grant Illingworth QC (Barrister-at-law).

The film can be viewed at www.defendnz.co.nz/john


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