|Posted by Pastor Jono on January 25, 2016 at 6:15 AM|
I haven't posted an article in a while but last night as a church we wrote letters to the Health select committee that is collecting submissions on the proposed assisted suicide bill that has been added to the Parliamentary ballot for debate this year. This is a very important issue. Will this country take another step down the road of having a culture of death instead of a culture of life? Will New Zealanders be able to think through this issue logically, and hopefully Biblically, as they consider a legislation with such potential for abuse and violation of the 6th commandment - 'Thou shalt not kill'. I recommend the websites www.suicideinquiry.nz and www.protect.org.nz
Submissions can still be made online but must be in by the 1st of February. For info on how you can make a submission see this page, www.protect.org.nz/make-a-submission/
Below is my submission - though yours does not need to be this long! Even just a sentence saying that you oppose the legislation is enough.
My name is Jonathan Millar. I have been the pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church for nearly eleven years and I am opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide/euthanasia for many reasons:
- Much effort has gone into discouraging suicide. This proposed legislation will undermine these efforts and instead encourage the option of suicide for depressed, discouraged and mentally ill people.
- Many vulnerable elderly people already feel a sense of being a burden to their families and society in general. Legalizing assisted suicide will result in vulnerable elderly people feeling obliged to end their lives prematurely. I believe that if assisted suicide was legal, some elderly would inevitably be pressured – either deliberately or indirectly – to end their lives prematurely. In this way a so-called ‘right to die’ will become for some a ‘duty to die’.
- In addition, assisted suicide is morally, culturally and ethically very wrong for many, many New Zealanders. Assisted suicide goes against Tikanga Maori values and many other cultural values. The New Zealand Medical Association also believes it is unethical.
- Professionals who work in palliative care are overwhelmingly opposed to legally assisted suicide/euthanasia. Organisations that work at the coal face of this issue, such as Hospice, oppose legally assisted suicide. For many involved in palliative care and the medical profession there is also a great danger that their own values will be compromised if they are pressured to administer a form of euthanasia. The proposed legislation will be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ leading to such pressure and coercion applied to staff in the medical and palliative care professions.
- Sympathy for suffering needs to be balanced against logical considerations such as the potential for abuse of the elderly, the potential to cover up murder as ‘assisted suicide’, and the inability of many people suffering to make a reasoned choice. In the UK one study revealed that 99% of depressed people who have suicidal thoughts no longer wished to die when their depression was treated. If assisted suicide was legal many of such persons may choose to end their lives and thus miss out on an extremely high quality of life and many beautiful relationships that could have occurred after their depression would be treated. In Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized for some years, a mother who was stricken with grief after the death of her child was granted permission and help to end her life. Grief is a natural part of life and suicide is not the answer.
- When people are suffering, death need not be the answer. We need to encourage a culture of life, not death. Palliative care needs to be robust, well planned and adequately funded. We owe it to the elderly, disabled and terminally ill to look after them and help them have the best quality of life possible. I believe current legislation is adequate to do this and assisted suicide will take away potentially rewarding experiences that can be shared by the person dying and their family and friends. My closing note will address this point more personally.
Over the years that I have been involved in pastoral ministry I have seen much suffering, pain and death. I have held the hands of someone dying of AIDS, comforted the grieving, buried their dead, helped Hospice workers, manned morphine pumps, and witnessed the intense emotions involved with such situations. I have also been there to see relationships made intensely stronger as a son helps his dying father sit up in his hospital bed. I have seen a man with late stage cancer - who for some time was in such great pain he would have considered assisted suicide - be declared cancer free and is now free to play with his grandchildren! In short I have seen how lives are ultimately enriched through the intensely emotional, and deeply spiritual, blessings that can come even in the valley of the shadow of death. I feel sad that some view suffering and death in a merely physical, material, atheistic way. God, who gave life, and can give eternal life, intends for us to experience life and death in a far richer way. If assisted suicide is legalized, many will miss out on all the beams of brilliant sunshine that burst through on even the dark days of our lives.