Foul play in end-of-life debate


The director of The Nathaniel Bioethics Centre, Dr John Kleinsman, is surprised and appalled at the disingenuous tactics being employed by assisted suicide supporters. Recently, Matt Vickers and Act MP David Seymour described the unprecedented number of submissions to Parliament’s Health Select Committee and the overwhelming 78 per cent opposition to a law change as nothing more than the result of formulaic submissions collected in bulk by mostly religious institutions or as religious bullying from the pulpit by pastors.

“Their insinuations are two-fold: (i) that the only possible basis for opposition is a religious one and (ii) that the views of people with a faith perspective don’t count or count less,” said Dr Kleinsman.
“The first is totally inaccurate — just read the many evidence-based submissions by professional groups and others — and the second is nothing more than an example of bigotry — a smoke screen, a distraction based on an elitist view of what counts as legitimate political discourse.”

“It is actually impossible to know the precise numbers of submitters whose views on assisted suicide may be influenced by their faith. One analysis of the submissions shows that approximately 17 per cent of opponents and 4 per cent of supporters of a law change drew on religious concepts,” said Dr Kleinsman.

He stressed the importance of New Zealanders feeling free to express their views to their political representatives.

“The idea that some people’s views count more than others is a very small step away from the very dangerous view that some lives matter more than others — something that disabled people encounter all the time. This debate needs to focus on the evidence.

“The key question is whether a law allowing assisted suicide can adequately protect those who are vulnerable to coercion because of illness or disability. Let’s have a respectful debate about that.”

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