Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Opinion: Assisted dying a slippery slope

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Whether you are for or against assisted dying in principle, other countries have already proven how slippery a slope it is. Photo/Getty Images
Whether you are for or against assisted dying in principle, other countries have already proven how slippery a slope it is. Photo/Getty Images

The Human Rights Commission has this week stopped short of endorsing the legalisation of assisted dying.

On Wednesday the commission told MPs it was neither a green light nor a red light.
"It's very much an orange light. It's a 'proceed with caution if you can safely do so'," the commission's chief legal adviser, Janet Anderson-Bidois, said.

It seems the commission has realised how much of a slippery slope such a law would be.

The commission has said, if it was to be made legal, safeguards should include a minimum age limit, a prognosis that a person will die within 12 months and an opt-out clause for doctors who do not want to be part of the euthanasia process.

I personally do not believe anyone has the right to decide to end their life or the life of another person.

Modern medicine does at times seem to only prolong suffering and there is undoubtedly a point where we have to stop treatment and let a person go - but that should happen naturally.

Whether you are for or against assisted dying in principle, other countries have already proven how slippery a slope it is.

When Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002 there was a minimum age limit but in 2014 that was removed.

Children are now allowed to end their lives with the help of a doctor as long as their parents agree. A critically ill 17-year-old this week became the first minor to be euthanised in Belgium.

The removal of an age limit raises the issue of whether parents or children will come under pressure from one another forcing one party to submit to the other's wishes.

The issue is the same for the elderly, disabled and those who are so sick they can no longer look after themselves.

Recently it was reported that a physically healthy 24-year-old woman in Belgium was granted the right to die after suffering from depression which led to years of suicidal thoughts.

Many people overcome depression and go on to live long, happy lives. How can a doctor decide whether to allow someone to be euthanised on grounds of depression?

What might start out as a way for the terminally ill to end their suffering could all too quickly snowball out of control. It's a road I don't think we should go down.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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