WelCom February 2018:
Parliament’s Justice Committee is calling for submissions on David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill. The Bill seeks to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand.
Submissions close midnight on February 2018.
The Justice Committee will use the submissions to report back so that MPs are informed when voting at the Bill’s second reading.
In 2015, the Health Select Committee conducted an inquiry about the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide and released their report in August 2017. With over 21,000 submissions, 80 per cent were opposed to the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Justice Committee Inquiry is a different inquiry. It is specifically about the End of Life Choice Bill.
One of the arguments against the bill is that legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide would endanger the lives and wellbeing of people who are vulnerable, including those suffering from mental-health issues, elderly people and the disabled.
A letter about this issue was sent from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops to all parishes and read at Masses on 27/28 January. The letter included information about making a submission. Hard copies of information from The Nathaniel Centre, the New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre, were handed out.
“…Rising You Restored Our Life…”
The End of Life Choice Bill had its first reading and vote in Parliament on 13 December 2017. The Bill seeks to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand for those over 18 years with a terminal illness or an irremediable condition. The majority of MPs voted to send the Bill, proposed by ACT MP David Seymour, to the Justice Committee. Submissions on the Bill have opened for the public to make their views known.
The closing date for submissions is midnight on Tuesday, 20 February 2018
New Zealand Catholic Bishops Letter“Your Voice Will Make a Difference”
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops have sent a letter to all Catholic parishes that was read out at Masses on 27 and 28 January. Their letter is set out below.
The Bishops encourage everyone to engage in the parliamentary process on this crucial issue by making a submission. Their letter was accompanied by a fact sheet on euthanasia and assisted suicide and a guide on how to make a submission (www.catholic.org.nz and www.nathaniel.org.nz).
27 January 2018
As many of you will know, in December 2017, David Seymour’s ‘End of Life Choice’ Bill had its first reading in Parliament and was voted through to the Justice Select Committee. This Bill, which seeks to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide, is something that we, the Bishops of New Zealand, remain extremely concerned about. We want to take the opportunity to further inform you about the complexities and risks associated with euthanasia and assisted suicide.
We are hesitant about ‘tacking on’ activities to Mass, but from time to time a particular initiative is given permission because its focus is so important that in effect it finds its full meaning within the context of the Mass. As we gather to be nourished by God’s Word (teaching and law) and by His Body and Blood, which makes possible the fullness of life, it is appropriate that something which so gravely threatens the gift of life is addressed within the context of our Sunday worship.
Today, all around New Zealand, we are making available a resource which gives 5 reasons why legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide would be dangerous. We encourage you to share it among your friends, family and networks. This information is to inform and assist you to take personal action. Each of you can make a difference. Each of you are called to make a difference.
The fact sheet being provided at Masses today is also available online by visiting the website of The Nathaniel Centre ‒ the New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre ‒ www.nathaniel.org.nz
Thank you for giving this your attention and for the support and effort you have all given to date on this issue. It is a powerful witness when the entire Catholic community is united around a point of belief and action ‒ the upholding of the dignity of human life ‒ which is so central to our faith and pivotal to an inclusive and caring society.
Many of you submitted to the Health Select Committee Inquiry two years ago. There is now an urgent need to let parliament know your views about David Seymour’s Bill. Therefore, we urge each of you to get personally involved by sending a submission to Parliament’s Justice Select Committee before the closing date of 20 February 2018. Instructions on how to make a submission will be handed out with the fact sheet.
Your voice will make a difference
Bishop Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland and NZCBC President
Bishop Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North and NZCBC Secretary
Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington
Bishop Steve Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton
Bishop Colin Campbell, Bishop of Dunedin
Bishop-Elect Paul Martin SM, Bishop-Elect of Christchurch
Dying You Destroyed Our Death
Fr Neil Vaney sm
Robin Cavendish’s going-away party was a ball. Friends, admirers and many whose lives had been transformed by his work gathered to say farewell. It had been over 20 years since he had been struck down by poliomyelitis in Kenya, his wife pregnant with his first child. Back in institutional care in England, paralysed from the neck down, he tasted despair and wanted only to die. The love and courage of his wife carried him out from that awful place to home, then to a motorised chair with a mobile respirator from which he toured even to Europe bringing a message of hope to hundreds of disabled. Finally, his lungs were giving out and they started the process of turning off the machine that had kept him alive.
Widespread research has shown it is the loneliness, anticipated pain and fear of total dependence on others that most fuel people’s fear of dying. Extensive publicity of a few tragic cases has ignited such fears. Yet none of these need be. Modern palliative care controls pain, and the love and dignity accorded the dying under such care helps to carry family and loved ones through the inevitable sense of loss.
Many stories of people who resisted pressure to die are now being told. Such a marvellous collection of real-life cases is easily obtainable in Dr Kathryn Mannix’s book With the End in Mind. She is one of the great pioneers of palliative care in England and recounts the stories of 30 of her dying patients. Of all different races and faiths, or none at all, each was helped to live through their final months with comfort, peace and a chance to share all that was needed with those closest to them.
Sharing our stories
The Parliamentary Justice Committee considering the proposed Assisted Dying Bill will face a torrent of arguments for and against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In many ways it will be the witness of ordinary people that could tip the balance. Some of you reading this will have moving tales of the death of those who resisted death to continue living for the sake of others. These and a myriad of those in similar situations could have their lives put at risk if the proposed bill was to come into law. Tell your story in person or in writing to the committee. Heartfelt stories of love and sacrifice still open many a resisting heart.
Our Catholic tradition
Right from the Church’s origins Catholicism has become more and more protective of the value of human life. It opposed the exposure of unwanted infants in Roman society; recent popes have now come to see the death penalty and modern warfare as barely defensible. To adopt David Seymour’s proposed law would be a retrograde step. Law does not merely shift boundaries; it changes the way people think and imagine. It would move us more into a society where some lives are to be valued more – and others of lesser weight, so putting at risk the elderly, the depressed and the handicapped.
Making a submission
Go to Parliament’s page for submissions
on the End of Life Choice Bill:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject line: End of Life Choice Bill
- Include your name, address and phone number in your submission or on a separate file if you do not wish these details to be made public.
- Attach your submission in pdf or doc format.
- This submission requires a covering letter and the written submission.
- At the top of the covering letter, write:
– Submission on End of Life Choice Bill
– To The Justice Committee
- Then state the following:
– ‘This Submission is from [your name] and/or [your organisation]’
– Contact details: email, home address, phone number.
- On a separate piece of paper, write your submission.
– Send 2 copies of your submission and 2 copies of your covering letter to:
Submissions do not have to be long.
‘Quick Facts’ sheet: download from the Nathaniel Centre website: www.nathaniel.org.nz/images/Quick-Facts-EAS-v2.pdf
Summary of Quick Facts: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
Euthanasia and Suicide…
1. … devalue disabled people
2. … undermine suicide prevention
3. … are not health procedures
4. … risk coercing our elders
5. … cannot be contained or made safe
Hansard Report: a transcript and video from the first debate on the Bill are at: www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_20171213_20171213_52
Contact your local MP: email, write a letter or visit.
MPs’ names are online at:
Public Record: all submissions will be made public on Parliament’s website.
Privacy: if you do not want your name and contact details to be made public, provide them on a separate page for written submissions; or in a separate file (for example, a Word document) if emailing or using an online form.
The Nathaniel Centre: www.nathaniel.org.nz
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference: www.catholic.org.nz
No To Assisted Suicide: notoassistedsuicide.nz
Care Alliance: carealliance.org.nz