No to Suicide

The Parliament complex in Wellington • Midnighttonight/Wikimedia

Adapted from Gavin Drake, ACNS

Three members of New Zealand’s InterChurch Bioethics Council (ICBC) have made an oral submission to Parliament’s Health Select Committee as part of their campaign against the legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The ICBC made a written submission to the committee in January. Nine bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia made a further submission.

The latest joint submission is by the Rt. Rev. Graham O’Brien, Bishop of Nelson; physician Helen Bichan of the Presbyterian Church; and Filo Tu, national youth liaison officer for the Samoan Synod of the Methodist Church.

The trio argued that assisted suicide and euthanasia are not widely accepted or practiced, and for good reason. There are too many social and cultural side effects not apparent when euthanasia laws first become effective, they said.

They argued that the lack of Māori and Pacific voices in the public debate raises questions about whether the country’s cultural diversity has been considered adequately.

The church leaders said evidence from other nations suggests that assisted suicide helps promote suicide and make it seem normal. Euthanasia can change the doctor-patient relationship and the responsibility of doctors to always promote life, they added.

They quoted Theo Boer, professor of ethics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who said that “the very existence of a euthanasia law turns assisted suicide from a last resort into a normal procedure. Don’t make our mistake.”

Additional reporting by Anglican Taonga

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