The House of Commons in a free vote have soundly rejected at the second reading of the Marris Assisted Dying bill, 330 to 118 on 10 September. This is the first vote on this issue in almost 20 years. Now the message from politicians has been an overwhelming rejection of the “right to die.”
This is a timely message for our New Zealand Parliament as it considers the petition of the Hon Maryan Street. We should follow the outstanding example of the Commons and reject a culture of death and reaffirm the sanctity of life ethic. Right to Life believes that this stunning victory for life should be a disincentive for Labour, Greens and ACT, to introduce a bill to the ballot to allow the strong to kill the weak.
Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of Care Not Killing, welcomed the rejection of the legislation, saying the current law existed to protect those who were sick, elderly, depressed or disabled. He said: “It protects those who have no voice against exploitation and coercion; it acts as a powerful deterrent to would-be abusers and does not need changing.”
Fiona Bruce, the MP for Congleton, said the bill was so completely lacking safeguards for the vulnerable, that “if this weren’t so serious it would be laughable”. Her impassioned speech concluded: “We are here to protect the most vulnerable in our society, not to legislate to kill them. This bill is not merely flawed; it is legally and ethically totally unacceptable.”
An emotional Dr Philippa Whitford, the SNP’s health spokeswoman and a breast cancer surgeon, argued that with good palliative care, the “journey can lead to a beautiful death”.”We should support letting people live every day of their lives till the end,” she said, and she urged MPs to vote for “life and dignity, not death”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the bill would mean suicide was “actively supported” instead of being viewed as a tragedy. The British Medical Association, the doctor’s union, opposes all forms of assisted dying.
There are 193 member states of the United Nations and of these there are only four that have legalised doctor assisted suicide or allowed doctors to give patients a lethal injection for the purpose of killing. These are Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg and Colombia. In addition there are five states in the United States that allow euthanasia; Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Vermont and Montana. There have been an estimated 172 euthanasia bills defeated internationally. While the threat to the lives of vulnerable members of our communities is very real, there is a clear international consensus opposing euthanasia and in fact any proposed legislation to allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide.
There are an estimated 189 nations where if a doctor gives a patient a lethal injection for the purpose of killing the patient, then that doctor is subject to the laws of homicide.
In the UK there have now been seven euthanasia bills that have been defeated at Westminster. They were; Lord Joffe Bills of – 2003, 2004 and 2005. The ADTI Bill in 2006 – assisted dying only – defeated in the House of Lords by 148 to 100. The Coroners and Justice Bill 2009, the Commission on Assisted Dying 2011 and the Marris Assisted Dying bill 2015.
New Zealand must reject any proposed legislation to introduce the twin horrors of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
Right to Life.