COMMENT:

Argument one: Life is sacrosanct. The idea that a country, a Government, a few people (half of whom have no direct responsibility to the electorate), could pass a law legitimising an artificially induced death is abhorrent.

Argument two: How can an argument depriving an individual autonomy over their own destiny be maintained? If you believe in personal responsibility, accountability and individualism, what right does anyone, especially a Government, have to intrude? To interfere with a decision by me, or you, to decide our own individual fate? How is that consistent with the abortion argument? A woman's body is her own. Extend the principle.

There is no argument with the removal of life support in appropriate cases. Why then are we so intent on enforcing life beyond individual desire?

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Dealing with euthanasia and assisted suicide has, along with related moral issues, become more complex over time. I suspect there is a reluctance to discuss it because it opens the door to other uncomfortable moral confrontations.

The medical ability to extend life has increased dramatically. Life-saving operations and drugs that control chronic illnesses have been godsends for life extension. They have also created, or contributed to, massive blowouts in health budgets that were once restrained by natural attrition.

Those dollar numbers are only going to keep going up. The capacity to postpone death against the will of the individual and nature contributes to the dilemma.

Example: A man in his late 90s, essentially bed-bound but able to make his way to the bathroom, which he did multiple times every night. He had for some years wanted to die. There was nothing left for him, and gradually health complications piled up. He hardly slept, even at night. But his heart was strong. He repeated frequently and with frailty, "I want to die." He begged to exit. In the end, he was obliged. I knew the man (and it wasn't in New Zealand). Would you have denied him?

While the debate over euthanasia and assisted suicide has endured centuries, even millennia, of analysis, it has become more intensive. It's natural and essential that it does.

Being a typical western democracy, New Zealand has changed. It used to be a society of centralised beliefs - Christian, socially conservative, number 8 wire independent.

Now, the mainstream church pews have more space than people, the nuclear family is just, maybe, keeping its nose above water, and if you've got problems, it's not your fault.

The deathbed "come to God" moment barely rates a mention.

Example: A young, regular female caller to my programme one day revealed that she had multiple sclerosis. On a later occasion, she advanced her intention to terminate at a time of her judgment while she still could.

"No you won't", I replied, but she was insistent. She knew what was before her, and she wasn't going to have it. She was intelligent, vivacious, strong. When your life is based around conversing on the phone you get to read voices.

She died in a rest home for the elderly, for there was nowhere else to go. She died fulfilling her word and it was a down day when a relative advised us. She was still in her 30s. Would you have denied her her autonomy?

But, a question. Who should be making this decision? I contend, not politicians.
Collectively, I have little faith in their handling of such delicate issues. And us, the rest of us, are we any better? Which means, at least to me, we, the people, should be paying much more attention to matters of state while we still have one. There are those who would deliriously surrender the country's sovereignty to another authority (see the UK for further information).

I have not established why Act leader David Seymour has enthusiastically undertaken this task to change the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia. I have no idea, except there is a push for change in numerous areas by some proponents. There has been much written on the pros and cons, not necessarily along party or philosophical lines.

There are so many possible contortions, the only certainty is that whatever changes might be made would not represent the law that exists 20 years hence.

Extensions would result via administrative means and adventurous courts. There is no perfect answer but there is a strong chance of downward deviation. A lessening of values.

My mother was a woman of faith who never drank, smoked or employed four-letter words. Around 20 years ago, I sought her opinion on euthanasia. She indicated firmly that she would prefer to have some influence on the timing of her departure. That surprised me.

Whatever bill might be passed will be a compromise. A foot in the door. Pressure for further change would come. Reading around the changes in Oregon, Holland and Canada tells me something.

In spite of what Seymour says, I think they are indicative of the Trojan Horse effect. If I was voting, it would be no.