Last updated on February 17th, 2022 at 12:51 pm
At least one or two people each week have been opting for so-called “assisted suicide” in New Zealand since it became available on Nov. 7. As reported by the newspaper The New Zealand Herald (NZH), in the last three months 73 people have asked to end their lives, although “less than twenty” have done so. That number is, however, “expected to increase.” This is similar to the euthanasia problem already in place in some European countries.
According to the president of the pro-euthanasia organization End of Life Choice Society, Ann David, the reason why a large number of people have not yet expressed a desire to die is simply because many of them do not know that it is possible. In fact, most programs of a euthanasia nature, David argues, are characterized by a “soft start.”
The pro-euthanasia activist says that, “if a person doesn’t have cancer, they won’t be able to enjoy assisted dying,” because today’s access criteria “exclude most neurodegenerative diseases and others, since doctors simply can’t tell … or can’t make decisions that span six months.”
The law passed by the New Zealand parliament in 2019, then confirmed by a referendum in October 2020, would actually be flawed by a number of misperceptions of the problem. Some polls released by the New Zealand pro-life world show that 80% of voters are not at all informed about the actual content of the law.
State death is served
After a couple of months of conflicting interpretations then came a chilling confirmation from the New Zealand Ministry of Health: for “assisted dying,” “eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis; therefore, the Ministry cannot make definitive statements about who is eligible. In some circumstances, a patient with CoViD-19 may be eligible for assisted death.
In the country, the debate focuses primarily on the timing of approval of the death request. On average, applications are approved after four to six weeks. In this regard, however, Dr. John Kleinsman, director of the pro-life organization The Nathaniel Center, reports requests being granted after only a few days. “It happened so quickly, without even time to address the more problematic aspects, as is the case with palliative care,” Kleinsman tells NZH.
The nonchalance with which “assisted dying” is carried out upsets even some of the very advocates of euthanasia. for example, former Congresswoman Maryan Street, who was shocked to learn that a friend wanted to use the new law immediately after it was passed.
Yes, the End of Life Choice Act is deeply dividing New Zealand public opinion and particularly the scientific community, as it has already done in the Netherlands. The new law is also a strong disincentive to palliative care, which is already scarce in the country, and to the protection of the most vulnerable.