The New Zealand Health Select Committee conducted an inquiry into ‘Ending One’s Life in New Zealand’ between June 2015 and February 2016. The Select Committee investigated 1) factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life, 2) the effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives, 3) the attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation, and 4) international experiences.
The NZHPA made a submission opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.
This is because we firmly believe that participation in euthanasia, as the deliberate ending of a patient’s life by a health professional on request, is unethical and always wrong, regardless of it being requested by a patient or their family/whānau.
We believe that vulnerable people are at risk if euthanasia and assisted suicide are legalised. The frail, the elderly, the disabled and those with a terminal illness will feel pressure to request euthanasia out of fear of being a burden to their family and others. No legal safeguards, short of a total prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide, will
ensure public safety. The normalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide would also undermine, and be contrary to, efforts by nursing and medical professionals to reduce all suicide, not least of all, youth suicide.
The NZHPA supports improved access to palliative care and hospice services. Excellence in palliative care, offered in the right way, at the right time, is what is needed to ease patients’ suffering.