The euthanasia bill passed last night, and the two biggest right wing blogs in NZ think that this is a good thing. I campaigned against it, annoying the sponsor, who is now being praised to the skies.
The BFD quoted a paper that hounded its now crippled founder.
The legacy of euthanasia campaigner Lecretia Seales reverberated through Parliament on November 13, 2019 as MPs passed a historic bill legalising assisted dying, turning the final decision over to the public via a referendum. MPs voted through David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill 69 votes to 51, ending years of fierce political arguments. Sentenced to death by cancer four years ago, Seales set out to gain the right to choose how she would die.
NZ Herald, via BFD
David Farrar, the owner of Curia and generally a pollster for the National Party, was more blunt.
The House voted to pass the law allowing voluntary euthanasia in New Zealand by 69 to 51 last night. It’s a momentous occasion, even though the law won’t come into force until a year after a referendum to confirm or overturn it.
I’ve been involved with the campaign to pass it, and it was satisfying to see it pass the third reading with an 18 vote majority. But its not the same feeling as when same sex couples were allowed to marry.
The latter was about allowing a few hundred thousand New Zealanders to marry the person they love. This is about allowing people to get assistance to end their lives because they have a terminal illness. Having people we love die is always very sad. The bill gives people a choice, but it doesn’t change the inevitable outcome for those with a terminal illness.
The other way I see this bill as different is that I understand why some are opposed to it, in a way I didn’t with same sex marriage. Allowing gay couples to marry didn’t harm anyone else. But allowing the state to authorise an assisted death does have potential harm. It is quite legitimate to worry about safeguards, about process, about coercion etc.
Overall I think the law change (if confirmed) will do far more good than harm. I think the safeguards and process are robust and the eligibility criteria is narrow. It will give people with less than six months to live the dignity of being able to make a choice as to how their final days go.
It is a huge credit to David Seymour that he got this law through Parliament. Four other MPs before him have submitted similar bills and they were either defeated or not drawn.
David is the sole ACT MP. Normally a bill will have been approved by a majority of a party’s caucus so you start with at least 30 or so votes locked in. But David started with just one vote – his own. He had to persuade and convince 68 other MPs to vote with him. He didn’t do that alone (and I will blog on others who helped in a seperate post) but he did do it.
MPs who voted for the bill have told me that David didn’t pressure or hector them. He met with them, he explained it. He worked tirelessly lobbying his colleagues.
David is plugged into the party that usually governs NZ. He is a skilled lobbyist. The same party ensures that Seymour gets an easy run at winning an electorate seat — giving up a very safe seat for them — to hopefully bring in sufficient other MPs to form a coalition. MMP is all about coualitions.
But this bunch cannot conserve anything. They trammel the right, the true, the traditional. And they were warned.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have spoken at no previous reading of this bill, and today I speak. If this bill passes, I am the only person in this House who will be permissioned to euthanise New Zealanders. This weighs heavily on me. In this contribution, I will speak with three voices: the voice of the medical practitioner, the voice of a Māori, and the voice of a New Zealand citizen.
To the first, as a doctor, I proudly add my name to 1,500 medical practitioners and ask the House not to pass this bill. I will not traverse the arguments of slippery slope and the signals it sends to our at-risk disabled, but instead I ask us to reflect on the last time we accompanied a sick older person to a doctor—maybe a mother, a friend, a father, aunt, or elderly person. In that moment of need and relationship of trust, we knew that the doctor was working as hard as they can to return our loved one to the very best physical, mental, and social condition possible. There are no other options. There is no other agenda. There is no other step. The backstop that commands the doctor is to return that person to the best condition possible. If this bill passes, another option is created. There is a next step—the backstop changes. It changes to one where euthanasia may be a next step, and in doing so, it will change the very fabric of the doctor-patient relationship. I don’t want an option of anything other than the very best care I can provide. If this bill passes, I cannot imagine the spectre of euthanasia—ever-present, looming over every single consultation, there but not there, present but unspoken until it is dared to be given light. This bill dims the privilege of care.
I turn, then, to my second voice and draw on what it means for me to be Māori, and in that context, this bill gives me grave foreboding. I understand some concepts of Te Ao Māori—where we came from, why we’re here, where we are going—but my sense is that we reach here beyond where we are meant to reach. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. But there are others in this House who I’ve communicated with in the past 24 hours who are more knowledgeable in matters of this, more knowledgeable in tikanga Māori than I, and so I pose the question to them. Taku tungāne Peeni Henare, I value your opinion. It’s not that many years past when you and your young family trusted me with my advice. Do you trust me now? Do you trust the very best summary I can make of the matter in front of us? I ask you to put all of this aside and tell me: what does your Māori heart say on this matter? Aku tungāne and tuahine Willie Jackson and Nanaia Mahuta, I value your opinion. You both walk closer to Te Ao Māori than I do, and so ask you also: what does your Māori heart say? This Māori heart says no.
In my third and final voice, I ask the House to consider this: the bill in front of us offers euthanasia to those with serious conditions who are likely to live less than six months. What important human endeavours would be absent from this world if great composers and artists with terminal conditions had been euthanised before their final works were completed? I will name three. Franz Schubert was ill for many months before his death in 1828, with physician Ernst Rinna confirming that he was “ill beyond cure and likely to die soon.” He was eligible for euthanasia, and yet on that long, last walk, in the last months of his life, he wrote three important piano sonata in C minor, A major, and B-flat. Under euthanasia, the brightness would be gone from the world.
In 1827, Ludwig Beethoven was dying with cirrhosis of the liver. He was eligible for euthanasia, and yet in his final months he completed some of his most admired work, including the substitute final movement of the String Quartet No. 13. Under euthanasia, this brightness would be gone from the world. Under euthanasia, this brightness would be gone from the world.
Finally, Johann Bach was blind, and in his final months he had suffered a stroke. He was eligible for euthanasia. Yet, in those final months, he completed the hymn “Before Thy throne I now appear”, the first and only piece of music in which he inserted a melody from the letters of his surname, Bach, in German notation—B flat, A, C, B natural. Under euthanasia, this brightness would be gone from the world.
Shane Reti, MP Whangerei, National, Hansard 13 November 19
The current right/liberal coalition cannot conserve anything. They feel to much and do not consider duty of care. There is a rump of people who thought right — some nominally Tory (National) and some not (Labour). They deserve some honour.
BUt the greens and NZ First voted in unison on this issue, saying they had consensus in their conscience. This is a travesty. You cannot trust power to such, yet they have it.
We need a revival, or we are doomed to destruction, and Sodom and Gomorrah themselves will accuse us at the last day.