End of Life Choice Act will change the nature of our society

end of life choice act

John Kleinsman, director of The Nathaniel Centre for Bioethics – an agency of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, says the conference believes it is dangerous to implement any euthanasia law.

But the conference specifically takes issue with the proposed End of Life Choice Act that is the subject of the impending referendum.

“I think it will change the way we are as a society … how we think about old people, how we think about people with a disability.”

Kleinsman says as Catholics they are not interested in “imposing” their beliefs on others, and they understand there is a case to be made for euthanasia.

However, he pointed to several issues within the Act of concern to the Catholic bishops, including the absence of a ‘cooling-off period’, which he believes makes it a “dangerous” piece of legislation.

He says that in a context where elder abuse is rife and “rising” despite a “very clear, robust law” prohibiting such abuse, the question:

“If we can’t keep [them] safe now, how do we think we could keep them safe?” has to be asked if such a law was to pass.

The Christian church promotes the idea of autonomy and self-choice, but “we are not individuals in isolation and assisted dying is “not the only way to have a dignified death,” he says.

Kleinsman says any euthanasia regime relies on the idea that some lives are worth living while others are not: “if anything, those most vulnerable deserve the greatest protection and care.”

He says compassion and mercy are at the core of what it is to be Christian but says it is compassion towards those who will be sucked in unwittingly and experience wrongful death that forms the basis of his opposition to the Act.

Kleinman’s statement forms part of a piece about the End of Life Choice Act on Stuff that canvases several opinions about the proposed legislation.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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