In an astounding statement by the leader of Act David Seymour, the author of the dangerous End of Life Choice Bill has said that the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand need to uphold the ninth commandment “Thou shalt not bare false witness against thy neighbour”.
It would however seem that Mr Seymour is not cognisant of the 5th Commandment “Thou Shalt not Kill”.
David Seymour is accusing the Bishops of promoting falsehoods. The Bishops have a duty to defend human rights and the right to life of every human being. It is inappropriate for David Seymour to seek to silence our religious leaders. This follows a statement on the End of Life Choice Act, signed by 37 of New Zealand’s religious leaders. David Seymour singled out New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops and advised them that they needed to follow the ninth commandment and to ‘stop bearing false witness against their neighbours in political debates”.
David Seymour apparently believes that the bishops are giving false witness by raising concerns about the End of Life Choice Act that if passed in the referendum, would allow doctors to give a lethal injection or dose to their patients or assist in their suicide.
What Seymour seems to think bares false witness must somehow been found among the following points made by the Bishops.
Right to Life invites David Seymour to tell us exactly what in the following summary of the concerns made by the bishops, he believes to be falsehood and bears false witness.
- The Act is not just designed for a small number of hard cases. It is broader than laws in Victoria and the United States because it allows both assisted suicide and euthanasia.
- This is not an Act of ‘last resort’ – there is no requirement to try effective treatments or palliative care. There is also no corresponding right in the proposed law for people to access palliative care.
- People will be able to access an assisted death without being in any physical pain. Overseas statistics show people choose assisted death primarily out of a fear of being a burden and/or being disabled.
- The Act does not require a patient to discuss their decision with a family member or other significant person. All eligible persons, 18 years and over, could choose an assisted death without family knowing.
- There is no mandatory psychological assessment or effective screening for depression. Research shows that requests for an assisted death are commonly influenced by depression, something that is extremely difficult to detect and often mistaken for ‘appropriate sadness’.
- The NZ Medical Association and Hospice NZ, who oppose the Act,3 share concerns that it lacks processes enabling clinicians to be confident a person is making their request free of pressure from others.
- The two doctor ‘safeguard’ is weak; neither of the doctors needs to have met the person previously.
- There is no mandatory stand-down period as there is in other countries – under the Act, a person could be dead less than 4 days after diagnosis.
- Unlike laws overseas, there is no requirement for independent observers or witnesses at any stage.
- The Act does not require a person to be assessed for competency at the time when the lethal dose is being administered, as is the case with laws overseas.
Right to Life has no doubt that David Seymour actually believes that his bill provides for a compassionate end for those who are suffering at the end of their lives. However what someone believes and what actually constitutes not only truth but common sense are often two completely different things, Right to Life and the vast majority of those working within our health sector, especially with those in the last stages of their lives, see the End of Life Choice Act as an extremely dangerous and ill-considered piece of legislation.
It would be helpful for all to see David Seymour engage in a meaningful debate with the Catholic Bishops by responding to the serious concerns that they, other Church leaders and the medical profession have about the threat to the lives of the vulnerable in our community posed by the contentious End of Life Choice Act.
Right to Life.