WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

No remedy for death, says Caritas on Euthanasia debate

WelCom December 2016:

Crispin Anderlini, Caritas

In an oral submission presented in November to the Health Select Committee Inquiry into Ending One’s Life in New Zealand, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand spoke in opposition to assisted suicide, looking into attitudes towards euthanasia.

Drawing on its experiences working with disempowered communities in New Zealand and overseas, the social justice agency highlighted the issue of powerlessness as a major concern in the debate around the introduction of legislation allowing assisted suicide.

‘We must be absolutely certain the powerlessness, exploitation and lack of choice that many New Zealanders face in homes, workplaces and communities is not present in the hour of their death,’ says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey.

‘An unfair employment situation may be compensated; a tenant may have home repair issues resolved; a person living with violence may be able to be removed to a safe place. But an unfair or pressured decision to end someone’s life cannot be resolved, because there is no remedy for death.’

Pointing to New Zealand’s high levels of child, sexual and elder abuse as examples of the many situations of powerlessness in families, Mrs Hickey said Caritas did not believe sufficient protections could be put in place to protect the lives of the most vulnerable people.

‘Those same power imbalances are present when people are sick and in pain,’ she said.

‘We are here to remind you of these people,’ she told members of the Health Select Committee. ‘These are the faces and the voices you must see as you consider the question of assisted suicide.’

More equitable access to quality palliative and healthcare and support was offered in the submission as a more suitable approach to this issue, to ensure everyone is able to receive the support they need at the end of their lives.