Legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide would be bad for New Zealand

26 Sep 2013 | BIOETHICS


“While the decision by Labour MP Maryan Street to withdraw her Euthanasia Bill from the Members Ballot today is welcomed, we understand that it arises from purely political motives – a wish to avoid a controversial debate in an election year – rather than out of concern for the dangerous social consequences of such a Bill,” says Dr John Kleinsman, Director of The Nathaniel Centre, the Catholic Bishops bioethics agency.

“The current law provides the best possible protection for people. We have always had grave concerns about the consequences of state-sanctioned killing of persons as well as moves to promote easier access to suicide as a way of dealing with suffering. We will continue to highlight the dangers and negative social consequences that would flow from legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia. While the Bill has been withdrawn for now, we know the debate will continue,” says Dr Kleinsman. “Ironically, Street’s decision coincides with reports in the media of a high-level review into suicide prevention amongst those with addictions and mental health issues. Why would we want to make suicide easier to access when, at the same time, we recognise it as a major social tragedy?”

“Ultimately, the law change being proposed in Ms Street’s End of Life Choice Bill would have eroded the choices of many and would not have lead to good robust decisions or better end of life care. We remain committed to advocating for equitable access to quality palliative care, disability support, and mental health services for people and their families,” says Dr Kleinsman.