Ian McKelvie writes a column in this paper. He is also the sitting MP for Rangitikei, and a member of the National Party.

In his former job, as Wikipedia describes him, he was the longest-serving mayor of Manawatu.

All of these accomplishments ought to earn him a certain amount of deference, especially the last - the citizens of Manawatu have repeatedly shown their confidence in him.

That alone should give me pause in any thought of criticism of this neighbour/politician. Except that he wrote a column (Chronicle; July 5) on the End of Life Choice bill that was less than straightforward and has many of the disingenuous elements unfortunately so typical of the anti-choice politicians.


In addition to electoral achievements, Mr McKelvie brings, as evidence of expertise on this issue, his chairmanship of Special Olympics New Zealand.

I congratulate him in that endeavor. People with disabilities deserve our support and their athletic achievements are inspiring.

But just how McKelvie's involvement with Special Olympics gives him any particular insight into the issues facing the terminally ill and their families is unclear to me.

With a nod to his sympathies for these young athletes, I must go further to declare that putting his office forward as a special qualification is not only disingenuous but is of a piece with the arrogance that infects many of the MPs who parade their special sympathies with people they call "vulnerable" as a means of cloaking opposition to choice with a degree of unwarranted moral superiority.

Mr McKelvie is either 65 or 66; the average age of MPs is 51. Here they are, making laws to determine the end of life choices of people in their 70s or 80s or older.

What sort of expertise do these relatively young men and women possess that allows to determine the fate of their elders? Or of living that life of elders for that matter?

McKelvie's well-crafted article promises "clarification regarding legalisation of euthanasia"- except that the bill under discussion, the End of Life Choice bill, is not about euthanasia ... except to its opponents.

Several times Mr McKelvie stresses the need for deliberation. He professes his own wariness of "hasty decisions, especially where vulnerable people are involved", and his wish for "watertight safeguards from the value judgments that could be made in haste".


We can all agree on the need for deliberation when it comes to end of life decisions.

And, of course, that is exactly what the End of Life Choice bill does. It sets up a framework for determining eligibility to be considered for assisted dying and then a set of criteria that must be satisfied to assure both patient and family and assisting doctors that this is an informed choice, made by a mentally competent dying person.

Those wishing to inform themselves should read the bill's provisions - https://bit.ly/2BeutlA.

Unfortunately, when it comes to his own vote on this bill, Mr McKelvie has not waited until the select committee presents its findings or the touring groups complete their journey.

He has given every indication (except a clear honest formal declaration of opposition) that he has decided to vote against.

In contrast with the skillfully written main section, his last two lines, while revealing of his stance, yet remain illusive as to overall meaning.

He writes: "This isn't just about bringing in a new law to allow euthanasia." No. It's not. The bill, if it becomes law, is about providing the dying with choice and dignity, just as its preamble asserts.

Then there is this: "It requires a significant shift along the continuum on which we value the 'sanctity of life'."

That term has no meaning in this context. "Sanctity of life" is an emotion-laden religious term. It's not part of a political or legal or scientific argument but rather a religious one.

Perhaps there is a place for a religious argument. But if so, that bias ought to be explicit and clear about its influence on how Mr McKelvie will vote.

*Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.