Aiding and abetting a suicide is anathema
Covid has given the opportunity to browse Letters to the Editor from earlier this year with fresh eyes. Meantime we have sacrificed our economy and personal security to save lives threatened by this pandemic. It is ironic therefore that we still knowingly kill about 30 unborn children every week.
Equally Bob Walker's letter (Give people right to make their own choice, February 15) is fraught with contradiction. He willingly admits that the current version of the End of Life Choice Act is against "what is written in the Bible". However, he mistakenly claims there is no legal choice to die with dignity in New Zealand. In fact, New Zealand has never had laws against death by personal choice; nor is it against the law to refuse further medical treatment, enact "do-not-resuscitate" requests and to turn off life support equipment.
Aiding and abetting suicide is, however, still illegal. What the current Act aims to do is allow state sanctioned killing of another person when that person requests to die and when certain conditions are met. One of those is that medical professionals must assume the responsibility of ending that patient's life. In his columns, Jay Kuten has dismissed this as simply "providing a prescription". He ignores that the Act demands that a medical professional is actively involved when the lethal dose is administered.
In the 1930s the Labour Party opposed state-sanctioned capital punishment for murder. That became law in 1941. In 1989, treason was also dropped as a capital offense. One of the compelling reasons for these changes was that, "if one person died as a result of being falsely convicted, then that was one person too many".
Under the Act we are asking two medical practitioners to act as judge, jury and executioner of their patient. The comfort that safeguards preventing abuse, misuse and coercion for assisted suicide, have no substance. No wonder the NZ Medical Council and Hospice NZ are opposed to the legislation. They know that they will be aiding and abetting a suicide. It is anathema. One person wrongly killed is, still, one too many.
St John's Hill
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No safe haven
So far in New Zealand there is relative calm as we appear, even with the advent of new cases, to be in control, containing Covid-19.
Elsewhere in the world, chaos is gathering momentum, as cases and death tolls rise exponentially whilst simultaneously, governments loosen restrictions out of fears of economic disaster.
Covid 19 really does have the world by the throat and to the extent that some countries, eg Pakistan, have decided "they'll just have to live with rising infections and deaths because their economies cannot withstand an open-ended strict lockdown" (Chronicle, June 24).
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Other nations, including many US states, parts of Asia and Latin America, appear also to be on this trajectory of, "we are going to save our economy regardless of the human cost". A dangerous trend if you consider that economies don't exist unto themselves, but are very much dependent on a healthy and living human population.
Where is all this heading, we might ask. Are nations going to end up backed into a corner where they simply have no choice but to consider the human component, something perhaps they should always have done, but only as a last gasp?
It's a great pity I believe that it often takes a grave calamity for us humans to realise what has always been true, that people matter more than economy and the beloved dollar. If we don't get it and put into place now, prior to a point of disaster, strategies to live by that are people-focused, regardless of how the books look, then we may as well say goodbye to economic balance and dollars anyway, because ignoring human considerations and not developing a new orientation to life congruent with those, means these will be destroyed and worthless anyway.
New Zealand needs to be awake to this now I believe. We may feel a little cosy here that we are doing well. Much of the rest of the world isn't, and to the degree that we are part of the world community, we don't have a safe haven.