Monday, 18 December 2017

Very Encouraging Statement from MP

Euthanasia Debate, New Zealand

Facebook Post by Simeon Brown
MP Pakuranga

Today, Parliament is debating the First Reading of David Seymour’s Euthanasia Bill. I will be voting against this Bill for the reasons I set out below.

I first want to acknowledge that there are well-meaning people on both sides of this issue. However, it is clear to me that no system of euthanasia, no matter how carefully designed, can ensure the protection of the most marginalised and vulnerable in our society. International precedents show that euthanasia regimes result in the involuntary death of innocent lives. I cannot support a law which allows the state to intentionally kill its citizens, particularly where innocent lives will be lost in the process. I do not consider that this is a reasonable or progressive reform in our modern democracy.

I join with the overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals in New Zealand – including end-of-life specialists – who oppose euthanasia. I find the New Zealand Medical Association's comments on coercion particularly concerning: "An absolute guarantee that those who choose assisted dying are doing it voluntarily would be extremely difficult to establish in legislation and ensure in practice. Doctors are often not in a position to detect subtle coercion – as is also the case when trying to identify signs of emotional or financial abuse of elders more generally. Coercion also extends to assumptions of being a burden, giving rise to a sense of an “obligation” to die."

In a country with dire statistics relating to elder abuse, youth suicide, and mental health, euthanasia is a major step backward and represents a threat to the vulnerable in our society. Instead of offering a legal avenue for suicide, we need to encourage and strengthen our families and communities to support those who are lonely and suffering in their final stages of life. By doing so, we truly offer compassion (which in the original latin, means supporting those who were experiencing suffering).

I am encouraged by the rapid developments in palliative care, which has only recently been recognised as a medical specialty, and hope that the new Government will continue to support the work of those working in end of life care.

I appreciate this is a very difficult issue and I know many people have many views on this issue and always welcome hearing from anyone who wishes to share their views with me.

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