OPINION: Why I’m voting “’No” to Euthanasia

Shortly, Parliament will debate and vote on the second reading of the End of Life Choice Bill, which is being sponsored by David Seymour, MP for Epsom.

This is a conscience issue which many people hold strong opinions on. Since the first reading of this bill, I have received thousands of emails on this topic, met with many in Pakuranga who have wished to share their opinion on the issue, spoken with palliative care experts, disability advocates, doctors, lawyers, and I have sat on the select committee to hear submissions on this Bill, 90 per cent of which were opposed.

I want to thank and acknowledge everyone who has spent time discussing this topic with me. It is a highly emotive issue and I believe that there are many well-meaning people who hold widely differing views.

I will however be voting against this bill for the following reasons.

Firstly, it is clear to me that no system of euthanasia, no matter how carefully designed, can ensure the protection of the most marginalised and vulnerable in our society. This is deeply troubling to me. International precedents show that euthanasia regimes result in the involuntary death of innocent lives, often those who are marginalised and vulnerable. I cannot support a law which allows the state to intentionally kill its citizens, particularly when innocent lives will be lost in the process. The potential for this particular Bill to go so wrong is too big to ignore.

I have also considered this issue in the context of what our doctors are saying. I join with the overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals in New Zealand – including end-of-life specialists – who oppose euthanasia.

I find the New Zealand Medical Association’s comments on coercion particularly concerning: “An absolute guarantee that those who choose assisted dying are doing it voluntarily would be extremely difficult to establish in legislation and ensure in practice. Doctors are often not in a position to detect subtle coercion – as is also the case when trying to identify signs of emotional or financial abuse of elders more generally. Coercion also extends to assumptions of being a burden, giving rise to a sense of an ‘obligation’ to die.”

Finally, in a country with dire statistics relating to elder abuse, youth suicide and mental health, euthanasia is a major step backward and represents a threat to the vulnerable in our society.

I understand why an individual who has lived a full life and now faces a painful death would want to be allowed to choose when they will go. But I don’t believe we can allow and celebrate that without creating a terrible side effect for many others, for whom this law would not be so benign. Instead of offering a legal avenue for suicide, we need to encourage and strengthen our families and communities to support those who are lonely and suffering.

I am encouraged by the rapid developments in palliative care, which has only recently been recognised as a medical specialty. As I have engaged with this sub-sector extensively since being elected, I have only grown in my admiration for their work and belief that we must prioritise their role in enabling people to have ‘dignity in death’, not in romanticised suicide.

I appreciate this is a very difficult issue and I know people have many views on this issue, and I always welcome hearing from anyone who wishes to share theirs with me.

Simeon Brown

MP for Pakuranga

 

 

15 COMMENTS

  1. Why is Al Qaeda more compassionate than Simeon Brown?

    The 9/11 hijackers got to die instantly.

    • You clearly haven’t read the bill or discussed it with anyone… This bill is the equivalent of offering slavery to refugees or sending them back to their country to die… Standing to gain from offering a bad deal without assessing the situation or helping the patient with their needs first is disgusting. It truly is a disgusting bill…

      • No, it’s the equivalent of giving people a choice at the end of life so they don’t have to suffer.

        Why do you treat your pets with more compassion than you treat other human beings?

        • It is not about giving choice. In the bill that is an illusion. What it actually does is give near absolute protection to doctors who kill. It is the doctors who chose to kill who are being protected, not the victims.

  2. I think your voting poll sucks. I think this bill is terrible and does a terrible job of caring for people’s emotional distress facing death and offers them death without the duty of care to consider why they are applying and whether they have everything they need before offering euthanasia… Disgusting…!

  3. I hope you are not biased in your poll making and your reporting and you actually post my last comment. I hope you are not just a bunch of smear merchants who are actually interested in caring for people instead of just eliminating the inconvenient…

  4. Thank you. I have so many friends and family who say “We put beloved pets down when they’re suffering.” Little do they understand that they are proving our point. Animals don’t get a choice. That’s the biggest concern I have; people being coerced or forced to choose euthanasia.

  5. To Lyanne Walker, who said: “people being coerced or forced to choose euthanasia”. Not only have you apparently not read the End of Life Choice Bill, it seems you didn’t even get as far as the fourth word of its title. It’s ‘choice’, not a big word, only six letters, but evidently too much of a challenge for you.

  6. Euthanasia should not be legal.
    Believe me.
    I’m a senior health professional.
    There are so many factors for each individual. There is help 0221952560.

  7. I agree with Mr Brown’s approach to this issue. He appears to have taken the trouble to think through the ramifications for our society, and especially for those who are most at risk, if this bill is passed.

    It is noteworthy that the overwhelming majority of foreign jurisdictions that have considered these types of regimes have rejected them. Why? The proven risk to public safety!

    Mr Brown’s position is consistent with the conclusion of the Justice Select Committee (report of 9 April). The Committee received 39,159 submissions and concluded that it was “unable to agree that the bill be passed” in the context that “about 90%” of submitters were opposed to the bill.

    Good law making is not based on whimsical polls or referenda, as some are suggesting. Greater reliability is gained by paying heed to the views of the submitters who made the choice to properly engage in our democratic process.

    There is vast evidence of wrongful deaths in the few overseas jurisdictions that have these types of regimes. The regimes can never be made safe enough.

    I expect our MPs to realise that even one wrongful death is one too many, and that they will rightly reject this bill at its next reading.

  8. The overwhelming majority of foreign jurisdictions that have considered these types of regimes have rejected them. Why?
    The huge risk to public safety.
    There are numerous wrongful deaths (people killed without choice or consent) overseas in the few states that have legalised this “choice”.
    The evidence is clear that the bill is unnecessary, unsafe and unwise.
    Our MPs know that even one wrongful death is one too many, and will rightly reject this bill.

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