A seeming paradox
Recent phone polls asking New Zealanders if they favour legalised euthanasia found about 70% in favour and 30% opposed. Interestingly, these figures are an exact reversal of the more than 20,000 personal submissions to a parliamentary sub-committee last year where 70% opposed any change to the legislation.
The reason for this seemingly odd result is, I’m sure, as follows. Those who made personal submissions were mostly people who had been personally involved with euthanasia: doctors, health workers, and the handicapped, as well as those who had studied the impact of similar laws in Holland, Belgium and Oregon.
Many of the poll respondents, on the other hand, are likely to have reacted to the dramatic cases of those seeking legal deaths as covered by local media, in newspaper and television.
The pull of the heart strings
It’s normal and natural to be deeply moved by the sufferings of the terminally ill or profoundly disabled. We resonate with their desire to be freed of burdensome and pain-filled days. Visual and print media excel in depicting their sad stories. What the media never shows, however, are the dramatic effects upon societies where such laws have been in force for some years.
The effects of legalised euthanasia
Statistics show that in Oregon assisted suicides have risen nearly eight times and one in every six people allowed physician-assisted suicide was suffering from an undiagnosed and untreated depression. In Holland euthanasia now accounts for one death in every 26 – and the Dutch legislation is much more stringent than what’s proposed in the David Seymour bill.
The fact is there are virtually no medically verifiable tests to protect patients and doctors from moving towards a death-on-demand scenario.
It may look like compassion but euthanasia is an open agenda for much needless and hard-hearted putting down of the helpless.
Father Neil Vaney
To find out more about the teachings of the Catholic Church and other issues, order your free set of ten ‘What Catholics Believe’ booklets