Prime Minister John Key says he supports taking a look at legislation concerning euthanasia, but his comments are drawing fire from a pro-life group that is concerned about legalizing the practice or assisted suicide.
According to New Zealand media outlets, Key said at the Family First forum in Auckland in response to a question about his support: ‘That’s because I think, while it’s a sensitive issue that you would have to make sure was properly covered, I think there have also been some tragic cases where we have seen people before the courts where they have [assisted in euthanasia] at the will of the person they have ended their lives for.”
Key’s comments drew praise from secretary of Voluntary Euthanasia New Zealand Pat Hubbard, who told Stuff.NZ they were ”extraordinarily good news” for the organization and that it would empower MPs who have spoken individually in favor of looking at euthanasia laws.
The remarks concern Ken Orr of Right to Life New Zealand because the last time the New Zealand parliament took up the issue, it defeated New Zealand First MP Peter Brown’s Death with Dignity bill in 2003 but just three votes.
“In considering euthanasia it is important to recognize that euthanasia is about doctors killing their patients or assisting in their suicide. 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. Legislation permitting doctors to kill their patients would make them the most dangerous persons in the land,” Orr said. “Right to Life requests that the Prime Minister withdraws his support for euthanasia and actively promotes a culture of life that protects the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death.”
“The American statesman, Thomas Jefferson stated that the care of human life and happiness and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate objective of good government. It is not the prerogative of good government to provide for the killing of the ill or elderly,” he added.
Orr says Key should be promoting alternatives to death for disabled, elderly or terminally ill patients.
“The Prime minister should be aware that we have excellent palliative care for the terminally ill and that the New Zealand Medical Association is totally opposed to legislation that would allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide,” he said.
Orr also pointed out that abuses have occurred in nations where euthanasia or assisted suicide are legalized.
“Euthanasia is a threat to the elderly and the ill. In Holland in 2009, 2636 patients were put to death by their doctor. In addition there were 400 deaths where the doctor assisted in the death of the patient and 550 deaths where the doctor killed the patient without explicit consent or request,” Orr added.