Assisted death letter 'distasteful'

I find the letter "Personal Agendas" (Chronicle; August 30) rather distasteful.

I also attended the oral submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill and heard 37 of the 40 submissions.

Six people were in favour of the bill and 32 against it. The submitters were from a range of backgrounds and their ages ranged from a teenager to one nigh on 86 years.

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All of them had opinions, otherwise they would not have been there. I do not think those 32 people should be insulted by having their views denigrated as "personal agendas", while the six with a different view were presumably expressing public truth.

I find Elaine Hampton's statement "so many opponents of this bill are of conservative or religious in nature who often preach that government should have less impact on people's lives" a strange comment.

Maybe some of the 32 are members of the ACT Party, but I didn't pick that up, nor do I see in this country a strong link between conservatism and religious belief. Christians frequently initiate reforms - the hospice movement is one of them.

Elaine Hampton mocks "life is sacred" but an important frontier is crossed when a person intentionally kills another.

Somehow killing people grates against the best in human nature thus leaving wounds in the psyche.

She finishes her letter by noting that palliative care is not always successful in controlling pain so 10 per cent of vulnerable people "die in intolerable pain".

I believe that palliative care can help everyone, but I agree pain cannot be controlled to everyone's satisfaction.

However, assisted dying also has its failures and the gentle and dignified death may be marred by vomiting, muscle spasms or waking up.

These also occur in between 5 per cent and 10 per cent and leave their mark on the memories of those who grieve.

Assisted death is a complex subject and, in making our decisions about the bill, I recognise good and bad points on either side of the debate. I believe those who spoke on Tuesday had thought deeply about the subject and were not repeating a fixed agenda.

There is common ground in that all have a concern and compassion for the ones who are dying.

While EH notes that euthanasia is a cheap option, I would prefer health funding to acknowledge the importance of end of life care and fully support hospice services (48 per cent at present).
Jonathan Hartfield
Whanganui
'Faithless nation'
From the earliest times, men have looked about them and wondered at what they see.

With their own intelligence, peoples in every part of the earth have ascribed to a pantheon of gods the things they do not understand and cannot explain.

So today - even with science and all our knowledge - we look and see things that are beyond understanding. Who can comprehend infinity of time and space?

It is not now generally acceptable to ascribe them to God, thus governments - expected to give reasonable account of their policies - resort to science and wisdom of the day, and God is not part of it.

Nevertheless, many people believe in God, but may be unable or unwilling to admit their unreasonable faith. So it is that we become a faithless nation.

Denial of God, or perhaps resort to a profusion of gods, leads however to confusion and despair.

The truth is that proof of God is all about us. What cosmic accident could lead to the human brain or viable seeds or life itself? If we consider infinity, where does it all begin or end?

Without an answer we are left in that confusion and despair, and exposed to all manner of troubles.

I read: "He who tries to flee from God takes refuge in himself" - the ultimate loneliness. But we are sociable creatures - solitude leads to introspection and depression.

In ourselves alone there is no hope or direction. As we deceive ourselves and teach our children we bring on them the epidemic of darkness and suicide, and the rest is statistics.
John Tripe
Fordell
Thain building
The recent decision by the independent commissioner on the Thain building would have disappointed the owners.

In my opinion, it proved the lack of foresight of the interested parties. With this decision, there are no winners.

The owners lose due to their inability to manage their investment.

They, rightfully, want to manage that investment however best they think fit, but are frustrated in doing so.

The Thain building loses out as it is past its use-by date and, being a three-storey building, is no longer fit for purpose, as well as being an earthquake risk.

Wanganui City loses out on potentially a new commercial development at the site, built to modern earthquake specifications.

The Heritage Society lose in the long run, by frustrating the commercial progress of those prepared to put their hard-earned cash on the line. If the Heritage Society wish to preserve the Thain building, or any other, they should purchase it at current market rates. They are nothing more than an obstacle in the path of those who have vision.

The Whanganui District Council lose out as its advice to the commissioner should have been: Let the owners demolish this building, but any new development must meet old town heritage style regulations.

The commissioner should have allowed them to demolish so all could move on to a new development, bringing a visible sign of progress to the bottom end of Victoria Ave.

The old town area is worth preserving, but common sense needs to prevail. Some of these old buildings are no longer fit for purpose or safe, so redevelopment and reinvestment needs to be actively encouraged.
Bill Deerness
Commercial property owner, Whanganui