John Roughan: Referendums are a one-time chance to vote

By October 5, 2020 Recent News

NZ Herald 3 October 2020
Family First Comment: Well said, John…
“If we vote “yes” in this referendum, we will establish the principle that there is something people can do about it when they become a heavy burden to others. They would have an end-of-life choice. And when they consider how unpleasant caring for them must be, how many would make that choice not because they really want to die but because they think they ought to? We will never know but I think the number would exceed those who made a truly free choice.”

A referendum is a big decision. Unlike electing a government, it is not a decision you get to make again in three years. When a question is put to a referendum it is unlikely ever to be asked again. The die is cast, the direction set.

We have two referendums with this election, one that matters, to my mind and one that does not. Let me concentrate on the important one.

A few years ago I mentioned to a long-time Herald columnist, the late Gordon McLauchlan, that I was thinking of writing on the end of life choice and he made only one comment. He said, “Anyone who thinks euthanasia is a simple question is very foolish.”

A lot of people seem to think it is a simple question, a simple issue of individual rights. If someone wants to die at a time of their own choosing, they say, it is simply nobody else’s business. Their death would not harm others, so why should we deny them the right?

There are several reasons, here is the one that most worries me.

Imagine you have become a “burden” to other people, either because you are very old, very ill or permanently disabled. You don’t want to be a burden, nobody does. You hate having to rely on another person for your most intimate bodily care and you know how unpleasant it must be for the person giving you that care.

twitter follow us