Right to Life Media Release 23rd August 2020
Right to Life commends the Deputy Editor of Stuff, (see Stuff letter of 20th August to Right to Life), for contacting the Ministry of Justice to request that the government’s euthanasia referendum website be updated to accurately reflect the full criteria of eligibility in the Act to receive a lethal injection or to be assisted in a suicide by a doctor. Stuff has advised us that they have also taken action to amend their story and other articles on their website. This action is in response to our letter of complaint to The Press of the 13th August about misleading information contained in an article “A choice of Life and Death published in The Press on 30th July 2020.
The relevant misleading statement was that patients are eligible for a lethal injection from their doctor if they “experience unbearable suffering that cannot be eased.” That is untrue, there is nothing in the End of Life Choice Act 2019 [EOLCA] that requires a patient to seek palliative care or any other treatment to relieve suffering. The inference is that there is nothing that can ease the unbearable suffering of the patient and that the patient is left with no other choice but to accept a lethal injection or to be assisted to commit suicide.
This is a very important issue, a person doesn’t need to try treatment first, “even if those options would likely help to cure their illness or treat their symptoms. Under this Act, assisted dying doesn’t have to be a last resort.” The End of Life Choice Act does not require euthanasia to be only a last resort. The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act states that, “Everyone has the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment.” Even treatments that “would likely help to cure their illness or treat their symptoms”.
One of the Act’s eligibility criteria is to “experience unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable”. This is a glaringly and we think insurmountable problem with the EOLC Act.
The government’s Referendum website information misrepresents this clause. The Act does not state only, “suffering that cannot be relieved”. The phrase, “in a manner that the person considers tolerable”, means that a treatment may exist that would relieve the person’s suffering, but that the person may refuse it because they don’t consider it “tolerable”. A person may be on a dialysis machine successfully maintaining the patient’s health but consider it intolerable and thus qualify for a lethal injection or assisted suicide.
Right to Life is concerned that this misinformation concerning eligibility is also contained in the pamphlet, “What Am I Voting On” produced by the government which was posted to every enrolled elector. Right to Life wrote to Andrew Kibblewhite, the Secretary for Justice and the Chief Electoral Officer on the 11 August complaining of this misinformation in the pamphlet and asking that he urgently clarify this important information. To date there has been no reply.
Right to Life wrote to the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little on the 8th August to express concern about the misinformation on the government’s euthanasia referendum website. To date there has been no reply.
Right to Life believes that the government is withholding important information from the community concerning the End of Life Choice Act. The Minister of Justice, the Hon Andrew Little has set up a government website allegedly to provide information on the Act to assist the electorate to make an informed choice, in voting at the referendum. Right to Life believes that the real objective is to encourage a misinformed electorate to support the government’s agenda of social engineering by voting yes at the referendum.
Right to Life believes that it is inappropriate for the government to be involved in providing information on the referendum. The government is not neutral as we believe that 72% of its Labour members pressured by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern voted in support of the Act to empower doctors to kill their patients with a lethal injection or to assist in their suicide.
Right to Life
Authorised by Philip Creed, Right to Life New Zealand Inc. 28 Ensors Rd, Opawa, Christchurch.