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Issue Fifty Five

Oct 2018

The editorial by John Kleinsman exposes and challenges the widely held belief that euthanasia and assisted suicide can be part of health care. Most professional medical associations recognise and state that these practices are unethical and not part of medical care. An aspect not often reflected on is the negative effects of euthanasia on physicians who are involved.

In the wake of the current debate about abortion laws, Ian Bassett briefly outlines the legal history surrounding the protection of human life in all its forms – from our tradition of English common law through to more recent statements by the New Zealand judiciary. The long-standing protection of life is put at risk by the latest moves to remove abortion from the Crimes Act. The gravity of what is being proposed should initiate a broad and informed public debate.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and The Nathaniel Centre recently made a public submission to the Law Commission which is currently preparing advice for the Minister of Justice as to how New Zealand’s abortion laws could be made consistent with treating abortion as a health issue. This submission is reprinted here.

Continuing the theme of the Law Commission submission, Cynthia Piper highlights the reasons why women seek abortions, something that is not often explored. Women facing an unexpected pregnancy are inevitably frightened and distraught. The prevalence of socio-economic drivers indicates the need for adequate and independent pre-decision counselling and support to empower women to make real choices.

The next article, a true story of one woman’s experience of an unexpected pregnancy, offers personal insights into the social and cultural challenges women can face. As this case reveals, the response of those within the Catholic community can vary. Catholic faith communities should be the safest place in New Zealand for a woman to be pregnant, whatever the circumstances of the conception.

The last two articles link back to the issue of euthanasia. In the first of these articles, Charlotte Paul reflects on some of the wider and often ignored consequences of legalising euthanasia; on the dying process, on the roles of doctors and on the impact of euthanasia on suffering. While euthanasia is offered as a means of relieving suffering, its very availability may well exacerbate suffering for many.

The final article is a verbatim of the oral submission made by The Nathaniel Centre to the Justice Select Committee on the End of Life Choice Bill. After presenting the message “Take Care” from four different perspectives, the submission concludes that legalising euthanasia would make New Zealand a less inclusive and more dangerous society for many.

 

 

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