New Zealand Prime Minister Wrong to Back Assisted Suicide

Opinion   |   Ken Orr   |   Nov 7, 2011   |   4:13PM   |   Wellington, New Zealand

The Prime Minister, John Key, has forfeited his right to govern New Zealand because of his support for legislation that would permit doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide. The Prime Minister has publicly given his support for a private member’s Bill allowing euthanasia legislation to be introduced into Parliament. He has promised to support the Bill in its first reading and for it to be sent to a select committee.

Key has a duty to protect the common good and he should therefore prohibit any member of the government, bringing a private member’s Bill on euthanasia to Parliament. The first duty of good government is to protect the right to life of every person from conception to natural death and not to oversee their death and destruction. His advocacy of euthanasia is a threat to our whole community, especially the vulnerable, the sick and the elderly.

Key has a duty to uphold the Crimes Act which prohibits as a serious crime under section 158, the taking of the life of another person. This is a crime which is punishable with a sentence of up to life imprisonment. The Crimes Act also prohibits under section 179, any person inciting,  counselling, or assisting in the suicide of another person. This is a crime which may be punished with imprisonment for up to 14 years.

It would be unwise and dangerous public policy for Parliament to consider legislation, that would provide for doctors to kill their patients or to assist in their suicide.  What dignity is there in being killed by your doctor?  Euthanasia is totally opposed by the NZ Medical Association because it violates their medical ethics. The association supports excellent palliative care and considers that with proper palliative care there is no need for a person in a terminal condition to suffer.

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. It is also estimated that 10 per cent of patients die as a result of “terminal sedation”, that is from the withholding of food and hydration. The Dutch government is now even considering approving euthanasia for the lonely and depressed. Euthanasia is a voracious monster; a right to die will quickly become a duty to die.

Those who seek election to Parliament forfeit their right for electoral support if they do not uphold the inalienable right to life of every person. This is a non negotiable principle for a civil society. Right to Life requests that the Prime Minister upholds the common good and urgently and publicly withdraws his support for euthanasia. The Prime Minister is the sitting member for Helensville. In the event that he refuses to withdraw his support, Right to Life requests that voters in his electorate refuse to vote for his re-election to Parliament. Note: Ken Orr is the spokesman for Right to Life of New Zealand.