NZ Catholic Bishops message

[27 September 2013] 

In 2012 Labour MP Maryan Street prepared a Private Members Bill, the “End of Life Choice Bill”. The NZ Catholic Bishops sent the following letter to NZ Catholics in response to the Bill. The Bill was subsequently withdrawn from the private members ballot box in 2013 in order to avoid a controversial debate during election year. Street has vowed to reintroduce the Bill once the election campaign is over.

Dear Fellow New Zealanders,

The present attempt to make euthanasia and assisted-suicide legal in New Zealand is a matter of extremely serious concern. We want to encourage you to take the time to become fully informed about this very important issue.

There are many reasons why people object to legalising euthanasia and/or assisted-suicide. While these can include religious and moral ones, our concern is to point out the social dangers of such a law change.

Many people from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds share our concern that a law change would introduce a new and dangerous dimension to our society.

The legalisation of euthanasia would:

  • send a message that the lives of some people are not worth living
  • mean the sick, elderly, disabled and dying would too easily see themselves as a financial and/or emotional burden on their families and communities
  • put further pressure on elderly people at a time when elder abuse is a growing problem
  • send a mixed message about suicide when youth suicide remains at critical levels in New Zealand, well above all other countries in the OECD
  • undermine trust in the medical profession and put pressure on doctors and nurses to act against their consciences.

Legalising euthanasia would place the lives of vulnerable people at risk, including those whom others might be tempted to think would be better off dead. For some people, it will undermine their choice to live. The mark of a good society is its ability and willingness to care for those who are most vulnerable. The current law offers people who are dying the best protection and provides the best motivation and conditions for quality palliative care.

We urge you to make your views known, especially to your local Member of Parliament.