Euthanasia undermines whānau values

whānau values

Life and death are not individual events. There are very few people who are on the Earth by themselves.

We exist as part of our families, our whānau and our communities.

For many Māori, death is a process the whole whānau goes through together because the whānau is farewelling a part of itself.

It’s a really important time in all of our lives when we are farewelling somebody we love and care for. It is the responsibility of all of us to be at one with one another.

The End of Life Choice Bill would invade this sacred space.

The bill would allow a person to request a euthanasia death without talking to their family, and a person could be killed without the family knowing.

In treating the dying person only as an individual and not as a whānau member, the bill misunderstands what it means to live and to die.

I feel quite sad about this bill because it undermines the essential things we believe in as tangata whenua, saying that that’s of no consequence.

People, whether they be terminally ill, disabled, or old, are still members of families. It doesn’t matter what their circumstances are.

About three years ago my husband George had a heart attack and a stroke.

He was in intensive care, and a doctor said to me that she would hope I wouldn’t expect them to resuscitate him. And I thought, “Wow.”

So I said to her, “I don’t think I would expect you to do anything for my husband.

“In fact, as soon as he is well enough, we will go home, and we will decide what treatment he will receive.”

So we took George home, and right through that first year, we’re being told he could go at any time.

But, you know, he’s still alive.

We all care for him.

A grandson gave his job up in Wellington and came to Whanganui to help me look after his grandfather.

People need to live in a safe, happy environment, to be loved within their family, to have the family there to help them do what they need to do.

I know there are many people who don’t have that safe, happy environment, who have dysfunctional families, and who can’t afford the medications and support they need.

I have a friend whose boy has cystic fibrosis. His medication costs thousands of dollars a month.

And we know of women with particular types of breast cancer who can get the medication they need to survive only if they are able to pay for it.

How do we have a system that doesn’t cover necessary medications?

I wouldn’t want anyone choosing a euthanasia death simply because they can’t afford treatment. Continue reading

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