In 2007, the New Zealand government introduced the “Anti-smacking bill”. The purpose of law is not to prosecute good parents, but to enable the police to prosecute violent parents, who use smacking as an excuse for their battered children. This sets an interesting precedent in the case of euthanasia: that although this is illegal, prosecution can be withheld, or mercy applied at the discretion of police and the courts.
Legalizing euthanasia intends that in extreme and rare situations, where a person’s condition is terminally degrading, with no possibility of recovery, the law tolerates assisting a person to take their life. For example, a person’s Motor neuron disease such as ALS will soon deteriorate to a paralytic state, beyond which their life may be supported for several years until their lungs stop working. Their mind remains fully functional until their gruesome death by suffocation.
In 1961, we legalized Abortion where the pregnancy would endanger the mother, or the child might be handicapped, with the approval of two doctors. It was intended to alleviate suffering in such rare cases. Today, one in four kiwi women have had an abortion, and our government laments our laws being too restrictive.
If we legalize euthanasia, in 60 years’ time,
one in four kiwis could have assisted a suicide.
This sounds as unrealistic as people thought about the future of abortion in 1960.
An “irremediable medical condition” can be interpreted to include long-term mental health or disability. This is extremely concerning.
Currently, a few people fight for the right to die in dignity. However, legalizing this right, makes death a viable option, causing some to feel this is their duty. Thereby the fight for the right to die will replace the right to live in some cases. Currently some women feel they must have an abortion, because that would “be better for everyone”. This makes their choice for them. The same will apply with legal euthanasia. People who currently would never consider suicide or suggest that to a loved one, will feel that it is the right thing to do as it will be “better for everyone”.
I am deeply saddened that our society is letting go of the sacred preciousness of life – that we even allow mothers to think that their child is not the most precious gift to her future – and that even when life is hard, a person’s value vastly outweighs their inconvenience. We’re trading the sanctity of life for personal convenience and quick fixes, and totally missing the most precious moments and life’s lessons that arise from facing and enduring adversity together. Where we are aborting babies who might be handicapped, we will “assist” people to die who might become handicapped. What’s the next step? Have we forgotten the holocaust of WWII:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Today people make a living by aborting babies. Businesses are set up exclusively for this “service”. This means that abortion is profitable and therefore people will market their “services” in a positive light. Legalizing euthanasia will make way for a profession and businesses servicing the assisted dying industry. These will defend their livelihood and implicitly or overtly advertise the benefits thereof, thus encouraging people to take their lives, rather than learning to face up to and live with difficulties.
- Euthanasia must remain illegal
- Euthanasia must never be convenient
- Professionals must never be able to profit from euthanasia. It must be an insignificant part of their overall service and not chargeable – it must be provided out of compassion.
- Professionals must not be held responsible for euthanasia, but a next of kin or person acting as such who assists under professional supervision and with appropriate counselling available.
- Such cases should be investigated as potential premeditated murder
- But cases of potential euthanasia must be met with great mercy and compassion
- The next of kin responsible will be sentenced to community service in exchange for the assistance they would have otherwise rendered. It is their choice what form this takes, but with the court’s approval. It should not contribute to a criminal record.
I realize this is a very complex issue, to which such thoughts are problematic. They can only serve as a discussion point toward this wider issue.