Euthanasia: “Catholics can keep their opinions to themselves”


Catholics are trying to dominate the euthanasia debate, says Heather du Plessis-Allan. As far as she is concerned they can keep their opinions to themselves.

Du Plessis-Allan was commenting on a piece in Wellington’s DomPost, More than a moral dilemma: The religious and community views on euthanasia.

She is the host of NewtalkZB’s morning programme in Wellington.

In her DomPost opinion piece Ruby Macandrew had written that, while just over 12 percent of the New Zealand population identify as Catholic, their views on euthanasia have been one of the most prominent – and well-covered in the media.

Bishop Patrick Dunn, president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference, who authored the conference’s submission on behalf of six New Zealand-based bishops, believed the church’s position on the End of Life Choice Bill carried significant weight due to its role within society.

“The Catholic Church’s long involvement in the hospice movement and pastoral care of the dying and their families provides us with strong credentials to speak in societal debates about dying and death,” he said.

John Kleinsman, the director of The Nathaniel Centre (the New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre) responded by saying his group, while under the NZCBC umbrella, was arguing more from a research and experience perspective rather than out of any church teachings.

“For most of history the Christian church has certainly been involved in caring for people on the margins, vulnerable people with nowhere to go and those sick or dying. The church has a longstanding involvement in supporting people at the end of life.”

A University of Otago study, led by research fellow Jessica Young who reviewed 26 studies into New Zealander’s euthanasia views over the past two decades and found 68 per cent were in support, said nearly 15 per cent were in opposition and the remainder unsure.

“There is no one typical supporter [but] … it seems that a majority of the public is open to the possibility of legislative change.”

She said public support of euthanasia appeared to have peaked in 2015 during the Lecretia Seales case and had remained reasonably stagnant since, despite the topic dominating headlines in the past year.

Young said it had also been disappointing to see a lack of research involving vulnerable and marginalised populations – the people potentially the most affected by the legislation.


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News category: New Zealand.

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