Euthanasia

Terminology

Euthanasia is a political and emotional issue. The language employed can be used to influence and persuade public opinion. Terminology can easily confuse or camouflage the issue. Euphemisms are often used to distract us from the realities. At best they can be misleading and at worst dishonest and dangerous, especially if the terms make us forget reality.


Basic Arguments

Proponents of Euthanasia seek relief from pain, suffering & depression through death rather than through medical intervention and justify Euthansaia by claiming a right to die and for economic expediency

Opponents to legalising Euthanasia generally respect the value of life regardless of circumstances (i.e. age or disability), for either medical, philosphical, religious and/or ethical reasons. They cite historical evidence that legal safeguards simply don't work in practice and argue for increased support and availability of palliative care.


Methods of Euthanasia

Euthanasia is more than just disconnecting a life-support system. It is intended to be lethal and painless. There are an increasing number of methods. Some can actually create pain or problems.


Pain Management

Relief from pain and suffering is a common justification for Euthanasia, however many in the medical profession argue that in most cases effective alternatives to Euthanasia do exist.

In areas where Euthanasia is available as an alternative to palliative care, the availability and quality of palliative care is markedly lower. Euthanasia can easily become a convenient and more attractive economic option, rather than last a resort.


Safeguards/Slippery Slope

Advocates of voluntary Euthanasia promote the use of "legal safeguards" to allay public concerns. Opponents point out that historically, safeguards have not worked in actual practice. They say that Voluntary Euthanasia soon becomes Involuntary Euthanasia and mankind is stepping onto what they call a "Slippery Slope", where the exception becomes the norm, and the law becomes unenforcable.


Religious Significance

The Euthanasia debate is a major issue for most churches and religious organisations. Many issues relating to Euthanasia have at their core a philosophical value and religious significance. Most Religions (including Christianity, Islam & Judaism) oppose Euthanasia believing that life is sacred.


History of Euthanasia

The concept of euthanasia has been around from the time of the ancient Greeks, Nazi Germany';s infamous T-4 programme, to recent liberalisation of Euthanasia laws in some countries.


Global Laws

Legalisation of Euthanasia in Oregon, Belgium and the Netherlands are viewed by many as social experiments and have come under increasing scrutiny. A law change legalising Euthanasia in Australia's Northern Territory was quickly overturned by the Federal Government.


The Lesley Martin Story

Lesley Martin came to the attention of the NZ media after she attempted to kill her terminally mother and wrote a book about her experience. She was convicted of attempted murder in 2004, and co-founded Exit NZ (now Dignity NZ) with Philip Nitschke.


A History of Euthanasia in New Zealand

1978 saw the beginning of organised Euthanasia activism in New zealand when the NZ Humanist and the Rationalists joined forces to form the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and sponsered noted activist Derek Humphrys on a speaking tour.


Parliamentiary History in New Zealand

MP Michael Laws introduced a "Death with Dignity" Bill in 1995. It generated considerable political momentum, but was soundly rejected by Parliament.

Peter Brown's Bill legalising euthanasia* in 2003 was defeated narrowly.


Current New Zealand Laws

Euthanasia in all forms is currently illegal in NZ under the 1961 Crimes Act, though the courts demonstrate leniency in certain cases. A NZ Court has ruled to withdraw treatment (i.e. nutrition, hydration, medication etc) against the wishes of the parents of a seriously ill infant.