In September New Zealanders will be voting on two important and society-changing issues. Both will have far-reaching consequences beyond what our present generations can foresee. One of the referendum questions will ask the voter if they support the End of Life Choice Bill in its current form. Politicians have now designated responsibility to the public, with the media being the main voice of information. Mainstream media has a tendency to be unbalanced in its messaging when it comes to physician-assisted suicide.
Patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families often live in diverse worlds with vastly different resources. The commonality between them remains love, relationship, a need to belong and the reassurance that they will be cared for as they face the end of their lives. The End of Life Choice Bill does not promise better care, it does not bring love and relationship and it certainly does not value life. It only brings premature death using medicine as legitimacy.
CMFnz has been part of the Care Alliance for many years, a network of organisations working against euthanasia and fostering communication about normal dying. Now the government has voted for a referendum, CMFnz has put together a sub-committee to help everyone part of the CMFnz community understand the issues surrounding the Bill and to educate others. As the referendum approaches, this webpage will be regularly updated with short editorials and videos on the major issues related to euthanasia and the End of Life Choice Bill Referendum. We encourage you to share these widely.
'Just a Few Short Months'
Dr Amanda Landers, CMFnz Advocate for End of Life Care | May 2020
In just a few short months life has changed, both locally and globally, in ways we could not have imagined. We now have rules and regulations we must follow under the auspices of the government wanting to save lives. What was once a choice, is no longer. We cannot go to the hairdresser, have dinner in a restaurant, hug friends or neighbours, and shake hands to show respect or even move about freely. But we make these sacrifices for the good of our vulnerable communities, for the frail and elderly. We do these things because it is the right thing to do. New Zealanders have made immeasurable sacrifices during this time, and the consequences we will be witnessing for years to come.
In just a few short months, New Zealand is supposed to vote for their choice of politician, their choice of political party. Alongside those critical votes are two referendum questions. One about legalising recreational cannabis and the other to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is now I find myself in strange territory. The End of Life Choice Act is built upon the right to choose to end your own life using doctors for the final deed. It is about no-one else telling you what you can and cannot do in this life. Advocates of assisted suicide believe autonomy trumps justice and conscientious objection by the medical profession. But we now live in a world stripped of its autonomy for the greater good.
In just a few short months, the critical importance of doctors and the medical profession has stood out in sharp relief across the world. Doctors are hailed as heroes because they are saving lives. They know how to work ventilators, and pump oxygen into lungs, and do amazing research that discovers cures and vaccines. People stand on the roadside and clap for their ‘new’ heroes. Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable by the thought of doctors and the medical profession then being involved in ending people’s lives on purpose? Particularly as we know from statistics around the world that many people who opt for assisted suicide are the very people, frail and elderly, who we are trying to save. They feel isolated, lonely and a burden to society. New Zealanders have just stood up as a ‘team of five million’ and told them that they matter. Can we vote the same way in just a few short months?