Until Monday 1 February, The NZ Parliament’s Health Select Committee is inviting the public to share their views on euthanasia / doctor-assisted suicide. The most significant thing they want to know is whether people think it should become legal to help someone else commit suicide.
From my own interactions, I can see that people on both sides of this debate have sympathy with suffering people and want everyone to die peacefully, with dignity and without pain. The difference seems to be how this should be achieved, and what lengths should be allowed to do so.
If you want to make your own submission, you can go here – it’s free, you can even just say one sentence, and it’s a great way to be involved in the discussion of what’s literally a life-and-death issue.
If you’re interested, my submission is below. It’s certainly not the best (even reading it now I wish I had worded things differently), and there are other much better examples out there. But it’s personal and I hope it’s a positive contribution to the discussion.
|Select committee:||Health Committee|
|Item of business:||Petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others|
This submission is made by William Chong in a personal capacity.
I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.
I do not want assisted suicide / euthanasia to be legalised.
Any act of deliberately ending the life of someone, even at their request or the request of close friends / relatives, is unethical.
The proposed exploration of euthanasia would stand at odds with NZ’s current suicide reporting regulations. On the one hand, media should not report on suicides to discourage others from doing so. On the other hand, media are championing and encouraging others who wish to, or have done so. This is a contradiction of values.
The proposed exploration of euthanasia is also a personal concern. A close friend of ours suffering from mental illness attempted suicide a number of years ago. This person received the support of friends and family and life-affirming treatment from medical and healthcare professionals. They are now living a healthy and meaningful life.
If the option of euthanasia was made available for this person’s “intolerable mental suffering”, it’s likely they would not be here today.
In addition, legalising euthanasia would put other vulnerable people, such as the elderly and the disabled, under increased pressure to end their life in order not to be a burden to their family. Instead of celebrating and valuing life, we would be in danger of moving towards practising / enabling physician-assisted eugenics where those who are deemed by society to be of no value are killed.
The freedom to choose what we do with our bodies is important, but it should not be an inalienable right. For society to thrive and flourish, we sometimes limit our rights in day to day living. The right to actively kill another person should not be enshrined in law as legal.
Finally, as a Christian, I oppose euthanasia based on the conviction that human life and death are given to us by God.
In addition, I consider human beings, regardless of disability or state, as inherently valuable to God as image-bearers, and it is unloving to take the life of an image-bearer.
In addition, I consider old age, disability and suffering, even immense suffering, as permitted by God for a higher purpose, and not something to be avoided at all costs. Furthermore, the God revealed in the Holy Bible is not uninterested in suffering; rather, He chose to enter into our world in Jesus, and to suffer Himself in order that death might not be the last word.
Based on these convictions, I conclude that that the Health Select Committee should not recommend any legal allowance for assisted suicide / euthanasia.