Media Release 2 March 2016
Family First NZ will be immediately launching a campaign ‘Kill The Bill’ relating to ACT MP David Seymour’s bill to legalise assisted suicide because the bill is premature and will undermine the important and thorough Inquiry that is currently underway, and contains dangerous pitfalls that even supporters of euthanasia will struggle to explain away.
“The politicians should vote against David Seymour’s pre-emptive strike on this issue and ‘kill this bill’ at its first reading, and should support the Inquiry to its completion. The country needs to have a robust honest debate about assisted suicide without the emotion of a law change in the mix, and examine whether so-called ‘safeguards’ deserve that label, whether coercion is subtle but real, and whether patients will ask themselves why they are not availing themselves of assisted suicide,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“David Seymour’s bill raises huge concerns around issues of subjective definitions, risks to the elderly and vulnerable, and even the allowance for non-terminal illnesses.”
“There are mixed messages when society rightly wants to take a zero tolerance approach to suicide yet at the same time attempts to approve a person taking their life. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a strong argument against assisted suicide. Overseas experience proves that the risk of abuse cannot be eliminated. The risk of ‘suicide contagion’ associated with a media campaign around promoting euthanasia is also a real concern,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Allowing assisted suicide would place large numbers of vulnerable people at risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, sick, disabled, those experiencing chronic illness, limited access to good medical care, and those who feel themselves to be under emotional or financial pressure to request an early death because they don’t want to be a burden. This is not ‘autonomy’ or ‘choice’ or ‘dignified’.”
“We should provide the best care possible – but not kill,” says Mr McCoskrie. “New Zealand has a well-developed network of hospices and palliative medicine is widely practiced with a standard of excellence.”
Family First has been calling for improved provision of high quality palliative care and practical support to be made available in all areas of New Zealand. Patients facing death have a fundamental human right – a right to receive the very best palliative care, love and support that we can give to alleviate the ‘intolerable suffering’ that they fear. This is real death with dignity – surrounded and supported by loved ones, rather than a right to try and preempt the ‘uncertainty’ and timing of the end. Assisting suicide is not the answer.
“David Seymour should pull the plug on his private member’s bill and allow the conversation to happen.”