Why I do not welcome euthanasia in New Zealand

By   /   December 14, 2017  /   47 Comments

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When I look at the horror our mental health system, prison system & welfare systems have become for the most vulnerable via chronic underfunding & indifferent staff – I fear how euthanasia will mutate in that cruel environment.

Hello, I’m barely politically relevant anymore

When I look at the horror our mental health system, prison system & welfare systems have become for the most vulnerable via chronic underfunding & indifferent staff – I fear how euthanasia will mutate in that cruel environment.

The way we treat the mentally ill, suicide victims, prisoners, the elderly and the poor with such contempt makes me believe that state sanctioned euthanasia will quickly become a means for pushing the poor to end their lives sooner.

Look at the way CYFS abuse children in its care.

Look at the way mental health services shrug off their responsibilities for the suicide rates.

Look at how Housing NZ don’t care about toddlers in freezing homes.

Look at how the Ministry of Development simply shoves people into motels.

Look at how WINZ torment rape victims and trap beneficiaries into debt.

It should surprise no one that it is ACT who is driving this movement. Euthanasia fits perfectly well within the far rights belief of individualism above all and the efficiency of the market to eradicate cost.

The loop holes available in this legislation means it is only a matter of time before someone is pushing to expand their definition for cost cutting measures.

It has happened before, in the 1990s the National Government were caught putting together health boards whose target was to deny health services to anyone who was deemed too costly to continue medical care for.

The National Party were actively and secretly looking for ways to disqualify the sick and vulnerable from state health care. If they were prepared to do it when euthanasia was illegal in the 1990s, imagine how quickly they will begin to pressure hospitals to start euthanasia as a cost cutting measure if it becomes legal?

We know how poorly Corrections look after the welfare of prisoners. We know how badly CYFs looks after children in their care. We know how damaging Housing NZ, WINZ and the Ministry of Development treat beneficiaries.

So what would stop Government agencies applying the same disregard for the poor and sick if euthanasia is passed?

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  1. Russell Davidson says:

    Martin I don’t agree with you. I am not an ACT supporter – I voted Labour at the last election. I am a health professional and believe people with a terminal illness should be able to have a say on their passing.

    • jomans says:

      They all ready have a say – they can end their own life at any time. Why involve anyone else, particularly health professionals whose commitment is to save lives?

      • Michal says:

        Absolutely, anyone can take their own life, anyone, don’t involve others in this shit! It is a licence to kill, the thin end of the wedge. Look at the Netherlands they started like I expectwe will start, now they knock off mental patients in increasing numbers every year, and they can knock of kids as young as 12. How can peoplein a mental health instituion make a ‘sound’ decision about getting someone to help them remove themselves from this world. And ditto for 12 year olds!

      • They all ready have a say – they can end their own life at any time. Why involve anyone else, particularly health professionals whose commitment is to save lives?

        Joman’s, I think you’ve inadvertently identified the inate contradiction of ” end their own life at any time” versus those who are no longer physically able to do so.

        Generally speaking (and I emphasise that this is a generalisation), those who are physically able to ” end their own life at any time” are those least requiring to exercise that option.

        Conversely, those who most require it are physically unable to do so, being bed-ridden and unable to carry out the tasks for such a decision.

        It’s literally euthenasia’s own Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22”;

        “Sure there is a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”

        Personally, I am a supporter of allowing people to make end-of-life decisions (euthenasia for short), with European-style safeguards build it.

        At the same time, I have to concede that Martyn has raised very real concerns. Especially as this has emanated from the ACT-rump Party, notorious for elevating Individualism above community and societal needs.

        Yet, I recall when the Alliance took part in public action to decriminalise solicitation/prostitution – the Libertarianz (a group to the right of ACT) were also in full support.

        Occassionally, the ideologies of the Left and Right will intersect with a common view.

        None of which takes away from Martyn’s reservations.

        Especially when I recall the fates of two-year-old Emma-Lita Bourne and Riverton dairy farmer, Colin Morrison, in 1998. (ref: http://fmacskasy2.wordpress.com/1998/04/06/died-waiting-for-by-pass/)

        Bill English was Minister for Health in the late 1990s and Finance Minister in 2014. Emma-Lita and Colin died needlessly on his watch.

  2. Me says:

    Just because they legalize it doesn’t mean you have to do it.

  3. kim dandy says:

    You’re right Martyn.
    I have lost all trust in Governments to ‘do the right thing’ by people.
    $$$$$$$$$ and arrogance have ruled for so long.

  4. CLEANGREEN says:

    You are absolutely correct here Martyn,

    Our belief nis that we must now find alterative treatments to make people less mentallly ill or disabled by crippling diseases, as those “cronic health issues” are the motive to end life by folks I have met during my dark days of a suffering a chemical poisoning accident in my workplace in 1992, and most doctors didn’t know what I suffered from as they were not trained in “chemical toxicity” and instead claimed it was “all in my head”.

    12 Doctors i saw over four months in 1992 in Totonto said this until I found one specialist Doctor who knew all about chemical toxicity and stood up for me.

    If i had not foud this man I woud have died in a year and certainly if euthanasia in Canada was then available i may have considered it then.

    We need better treatments for our medical conditions not slow death medicines we see the medical industry are offering now.

    I am fortunate that one Polish immigant Doctor to Canada knew what others didn’t about chemical toxicity and we found him there for me, so
    euthanasia is not the answer, good Medical doctoring training and better alterative medicine is the answer here.

  5. Debbie says:

    Well said Martyn. Sadly, we live in a society where people are increasingly deemed worthy only so far as they are financially productive.

    There have already been cases overseas where insurance companies have denied payments for health care or medicine, and instead have pressured the sick to euthanase themselves instead:


    And god help those whose children would rather inherit than pay for their elderly parent’s nursing care 🙁

  6. mosa says:

    Perfect valid points Martyn and i have nothing to add as you have put it so succinctly except to say this.

    Seymour posing as a angel in white for the terminally ill is as repulsive as it gets.

    It is appalling that the real motivation here is not up for public debate.

  7. Andrewo says:

    It seems ACT is politically relevant: David’s bill has been pulled from the hat and will make history.

    The facts:

    Polls indicate that a clear majority of NZers are in favour of it

    The politicians will probably hold a referendum over it

    So it will pass into law

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Of course you would saythat Andrewo wouldnt you.

      Just because the ist reading has past the referendum and final control is left for years ahead now.

      English your mate may run on stopping the bill in 2020 so dont get so confident here, there is a loty of water to pass under this bridge yet.

    • Michal says:

      Now Andrew I expect polls would say we should knock off people who rape and murder. Peple do actually go on to have productive good lives who have done appalling things. Thank goodness we don’t have capital punishment in this country I expect we would if there was a binding referenda.

    • Your views are highly simplistic, AndrewO. Whilst I lean toward legalisation of assisted dying, I find nothing remotely convincing in your argument.

      • Tom Gardner says:

        Frank, the fact of a clear majority being in favour is, surely, closer-than-remotely convincing? The will of the people, and all that? This fact will, I rather expect, be the clincher in having this legislation go through, if the Winston-required referendum tuns out to be the final hurdle. So NZ, which, in earlier times, used to lead social progress, will be further down the track (behind Victoria, several USA states), although still ahead of many countries.
        An issue which I don’t think is dealt with the proposed bill: assisted suicide in the face of dementia. I define myself in large part by my intellect (as I rather imagine many on this site also do), and lacking that, I am no longer me; I am a human-looking husk. I expect many will have visited rest homes/dementia care centres, where Alzheimer sufferers shuffle inanely around, incontinent of mind, bowel and bladder, their essential human attribute — thought, cognition, awareness — lost. Expect they don’t (much) suffer, because they don’t know (as the disease progresses) what’s going on; the suffering, at this stage, is more with their families.
        I could not bear to be, or to anticipate to be, in that situation, I would be appalled beyond measure; but how could I have assisted suicide, if I couldn’t then give consent? Would consent ahead of time count?
        Assisted suicide for severe physical pain/severe physical incapacity/incurable cancer is, by comparison, an easy question.

  8. millsy says:

    From what I hear, this is already being practiced in our hospices, unofficially. If this bill becomes law, I would imagine such practices to become more widespread.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Yes MILLSY;

      It may occur in some quarters already, as under national the whole ‘health care’ went to pot as we saw.

      But this should now been stopped as there is a new sherriff in town ‘so to speak’

    • Red Buzzard says:

      I believe it has also been happening in state public hospitals and without the patients wanting to die ( in fact the patients and their families explicitly stating they wanted to live)…in other words NOT euthanasia !

      ….so I would agree with Martyn Bradbury

      …how many NZ elderly and not so elderly have been denied legal safe use of medicinal cannabis for their pain ( and their relatives prosecuted for trying to deliver it to them?)….and then killed off with Fentanyl?


      “The drug that killed popstar Prince is being prescribed to New Zealand’s elderly in record numbers, prompting a warning from the Government health watchdog.

      The spike in prescriptions of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin – is being described as “opioid rain” by alarmed medical professionals.

      An investigation has found rates of prescribing have doubled in rest homes in four years, while doctors are dishing out strong opioids to already frail over-80s around 10 times more often than to those under 65. Prescription rates varied wildly between regions…


      ( all perfectly legal of course)

  9. Marc says:

    I respect your concerns, but the bill was once presented by a former Labour MP, so with all the now added additional checks and balances, I think, it may not be a dangerous as first thought by some.

    Why have people with terminal cancer suffer endlessly, when a not easy but humane solution may be legally available?

    Yes, there are drugs killing the pain, but some or many make you so addicted, you add just another curse to what you suffer already, hence some ask, let me finish, without others being labeled criminals.

    • Michal says:

      Yes they had all those checks and balances in the Netherlands and Belgium which have been eroded over time.

      • Marc says:

        It will be hammered out in Select Committee, what checks and balances they will enforce. While there are of course valid concerns and risks, we will see after that hearing process and once a report has been sent back to Parliament, whether they propose more checks and controls than in other places.

  10. Historian Pete says:

    Your thoughts to stop me utilising euthanasia if I am terminally ill are not valid because it implies that you or society have some kind of ownership of my life. And you absolutely don’t! The law that says I can’t use euthanasia breaches natural justice and is also invalid.If I decide to terminate my life when I am terminally ill and are going to die anyway, and I get someone to help me , how can this be a crime in natural justice? All the social ills you mention do not negate in any way whatsoever My basic right to ownership of my life. You on the other hand have an unfortunate capitalistic tendency to claim ownership of other peoples lives that you need to eliminate from your psychi . While you do it because you fear the effect of social ills, this does not make it right !!!

    • Red Buzzard says:

      no one would blame you if you killed yourself while terminally ill and with the help of your chosen.

      …however the rights of those who do NOT want to die becomes tenuous with euthanasia legalised…particularly when they are elderly and vulnerable and a drain on state pensions and scarce hospital resources…and there are hospital doctors all too willing to terminate

      • Historian Pete says:

        You miss the point. Control over my life is just one more manifestation of Capitalism control.How are you going to move to socialism if you insist on retaining capitalistic controls such as anti-euthanasia laws.Change is piecemeal.You change things when you can.And yes ,they will blame my relatives if they help me die when I have a terminal condition.They will jail them! You do not have the right to trade off my life for your concerns for people suffering under capitalism. Such an attitude is frankly fascist. LEAVE MY FUCKING LIFE ALONE !!!

    • Michal says:

      Yes as pointed out nuemrous times anyone has the right to take their own life they should not ever involve someone else.

  11. dave brown says:

    Its delusional to argue that euthanasia under capitalism is our ‘right’, our ‘freedom of choice’ and that it means that we are taking control over our lives.

    Quite the opposite.

    Most of the factors that would cause us to opt for suicide are outside our control. We are now manipulated daily by logarithms.

    That is because capitalism is founded on alienated bourgeois subjects (as ‘economic man’, as citizens defined by parliamentary votes) who are no more than the ciphers of private property which structurally determines our life chances including our life expectancy.

    I agree with Martyn on this. We have a lot to do to take control over our lives and stop capitalism killing us, before we give the bosses’ state an written alibi to process us off the production line into the grave because we are surplus to requirements.

    The war in Syria where the whole world catches it on TV and then changes channels to Disney/Fox comes to mind.

    Genocide is eclipsed by our channel surfing.

    Just as our antecedents fought like Tolpuddle martyrs for centuries to make the state improve our living conditions, health, working conditions, childcare etc. creating the rights and responsibilities of ‘civilisation’.

    Yet ‘civilisation’ remains only a good idea.

    For the sake of argument, in a socialist society where we no longer live in “all the old shit” of capitalism, we would still reach a point when despite the best health care we want to die.

    But that decision would no longer be that of the fake ‘freedom’ of the bourgeois individual, rubber stamped by the bourgeois state dedicated to reproducing us as alienated subjects in life and in death.

    It would be a decision informed by the social support of alienation-free persons, no longer crass ‘individuals”, supported by a collective of community, workplace, family etc where social relations are transparent and non-exploitative.

    Our self and society would be united in the shared power of the decision and the act to end one’s life.

    Equal in life and death.

    Unlike euthanasia where alienation rules even in our death.

    • Historian Pete says:

      Marvellous, and when is this Socialist Shrangri-La going to appear? I might need Euthanasia in 3 years , and so I will have to suffer a life I don’t want because Dave has crackpot ideas of the coming of the Glorious Dictatorship of the Proletariat.If I was around I would be sure to be incarcerated in Bourgeois Re-Education camp /Gulag as him and me don’t quite see eye to eye! And the rest of you might find his Red Guards not preferable to the National Party after all!
      I don’t want”Our self and society would be united in the shared power of the decision and the act to end ones life”. I want to make my own decision. And I certainly don’t want one of Dave’s Leninist/ Troskyist Revolutionary Committees of Stalinist Commissars presiding over my euthanasia hearing!!!

      • dave brown says:

        Pete, I have cancer, if it turns out to be terminal then I will make my own arrangements thanks. I don’t need the capitalist state telling me I have an inalienable right, or I’m free to choose courtesy of von Hayek or some other crackpot.
        I won’t be waiting for permission from some bourgie politicians to take my life.
        If you want that permission go for it.
        Nor will I will be hanging around for all the dedicated bourgeois individuals like you to decide what sort of socialism meets your approval.
        They will be dying to escape capitalism not thinking about mass suicide.
        Workers and all oppressed people will make that decision whatever I say, or whatever anti-communist hysterics you throw.
        Just choose your method, dose up with a cocktail of sedatives and do it. You don’t need anyone holding your hand.

        • Historian Pete says:

          If it was just a case of committing suicide when you wanted to end things when you had a terminal condition I would personally agree with you. However , not everyone likes the idea of do-it -your self suicide. Some would like a more scientific /Medical approach.But the main objection I have to a large number of those on this blog who say “Just get on with it, and stop involving others” is what if you can’t? What if you have a degenerative disease like multiple sclerosis ,Huntingtons,muscular dystrophy or degerative myopathy, and you can only then terminate a life you find unbearable with the help of others? You realize that if you wait too long you may be physically unable to carry out the act. You are in a horrible quandary. That is when there is no alternative to assisted euthanasia or a miserable living death. You may feel these people do not deserve consideration , but I do not agree!!

          • dave brown says:

            Yes it is a dilemma, and maybe just like the politicians are voting with their ‘conscience’ whatever that is, we should all calm down and take the same approach.
            Some of us will opt for palliative care, others will opt for euthanasia.
            Let’s just hope that euthanasia does not get abused by the capitalist system in the same way that the health system is culling the old and sick when it puts profits before people.
            If the Labour led government went back to to first principles (long abandoned) and socialised medicine by taxing the rich to pay for it, so as to maintain health care fairly and adequately then I might have your confidence in the ‘scientific/medical’ approach as part of palliative care.
            When the system stops ‘assisting’ youth suicide by ignoring the social causes, and does something to counter it, I might have more confidence in the state administration of euthanasia.
            But this will not happen in a system that is dying on its feet. The private specialists run the health system and rort it to death. The official line on youth suicide is not to go to root causes and eliminate them, but to build personal ‘resilience”. Really? Still blaming the victims?
            How is that going to work in our rotting system?
            But let’s see what happens when the majority opt for euthanasia.
            One thing I am convinced of, euthanasia at the hands of the capitalist state does not mean “control over one’s body”. That was lost in infancy to patriarchy and the ruling class.
            Suicide of the terminally ill with the cooperation of the ones we love and trust is at least an attempt to take back some “control over one’s body”.

          • Red Buzzard says:

            good points

          • Red Buzzard says:

            nevertheless however dire “multiple sclerosis ,Huntingtons,muscular dystrophy or degerative myopathy” seem to be for most of us who are healthy
            …for some of these illnesses there is hope

            …and just because one has an illness of this sort should not mean that this person should be regarded as pitiful with a life not worth living or being assisted in living

            … and put on a death row of societal and medical professional expectations that they want to or should terminate their life

            …many wish to live, just as many elderly living in chronic, even excruciating , pain ( eg nerve arthritis)do NOT wish to die!

            … and they live surrounded by LOVE and in HOPE and they enjoy life intensely no matter their disabilities.

            …while there is hope there is life



            • RB, have you ever know anyone with Huntington’s?

              It is a cruel condition. Made worse by the fact it is genetic and entire families can be destroyed by it.

              It’s also a degrading way to slowly die.

              I knew (note past tense) of a family of five siblings. All 5 had it. Two died from it; a third committed suicide rather than suffer the drawn-out process of degradation; one went of the rails and broke up with his wife because he couldn’t cope. The fifth was a lovely woman for whom I helped do a few simple things that her hands could no longer carry out.

              This woman had a remarkable, outgoing personality. She was in her 40s, and not expected to live much longer. She was well aware what was coming.

              That was about eight or nine years ago. She’s probably dead now. As is her one remaining brother.)

              All five siblings – gone.

              It’s easy to pontificate…

              for some of these illnesses there is hope

              …and just because one has an illness of this sort should not mean that this person should be regarded as pitiful with a life not worth living or being assisted in living

              Much harder when you actually knew someone in that dire situation.

              (Did she ever wish for assisted dying? I don’t know. It’s not something I ever wanted to ask her.)

        • Strypey says:

          “You don’t need anyone holding your hand.”

          Many people who are terminally ill are essentially imprisoned in hospitals, which cannot save their lives, but are determined to keep them from drying at any cost regardless of the avoidable suffering this causes. It’s like something out of a horror movie. People in such situations often do not have access to a “cocktail of sedatives”, and are often too unwell to end their lives without help.

          It’s not about “permission from some bourgie politicians to take my life”, it’s about removing the bullshit laws that threaten to punish the people that provide that help, whether family members or health professionals.

  12. Crissie says:

    I am against it…….What a great way to reduce the statistics for mental health, people who are a drain on the health system and those that struggle to fit into our world. It is nice and fidy. However the prisons if they are private will still need some clients to work for their keep so it will be a balance of keeping some people to become prisoners to work as slaves and getting rid of the surplus folks…..so what a great way to deal with social issues note not problems as it is all legal so conscience is clear and it is just an issue.

  13. Mike the Lefty says:

    I can see both sides of this debate. However, I don’t buy into the religious position of declaring that only God has the right to take life…blah blah etc, because I don’t believe in God.
    However death is the ultimate destiny of all of us and murder is the ultimate taboo of most cultures, so it pays to be careful what you wish for here.
    Others who oppose the measure site a distrust of government. The argument seems to be “how do we trust a government system that has shown indifference to the sufferings of our living with administering a law that allows people to kill themselves?”
    Those who support the measure argue that individual freedom in life should extend to choosing the time and manner of one’s death.
    If the bill passes there will certainly be legal challenges, probably a lot of civil disobedience and protest.
    It is a big challenge for our politicians and our society as a whole.
    I hope they are up to the challenge and debate it properly and fairly with courage and conviction.

  14. Me says:

    Contrary to what Maggie Barry says it is not a licence to kill.


    The bill:

    defines who is eligible for assisted dying
    details the provisions to ensure that this a free choice
    outlines the steps to ensure a person is mentally capable of understanding the nature and consequences of assisted dying.

  15. Strypey says:

    Come on Bomber, this is like arguing against cannabis legalisation on the basis that it could become an excuse for forcing people to smoke pot against their will. ACT supports cannabis law reform too, does that mean we shouldn’t support it? Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I suggest you actually speak to some of the people who have spent decades campaigning to decriminalise assisted dying, rather than jumping to unwarranted conclusions, and spitting up lazy arguments that are unworthy of you, and of this blog.

    • Red Buzzard says:

      …and I suggest equally that you research and choose to talk to people who have had elderly ‘euthanized ‘ against their will


      • Your statement is mis-leading.

        Nowhere in that Fairfax article does it even remotely claim that “elderly [have been] ‘euthanized ‘ against their will”.

        • Red Buzzard says:

          “mis-leading” is all in your head as usual

          …I am not talking about the Fairfax article

          …i am talking about the issue in general which is the topic of this post by Martyn Bradbury, with whom I largely agree and whom i am defending

          (any problems with this?)

      • Strypey says:

        This Stuff article is a good argument for legalising medical cannabis, and prescribing that to elderly people for pain instead of opioids. But as Frank says, it has absolutely nothing to do with voluntary euthanasia. If this is the best argument you can come up with, it only leaves me more convinced that supporting decriminalisation of voluntary euthanasia is a good idea.

        • Red Buzzard says:

          when is “voluntary” NOT voluntary?

          … “decriminalisation of voluntary euthanasia”…is a good idea…but what is it like in practice?…

          …in this debate the difference seems to be between those who have faith in the social ( neolib) system and the (neolib technocratic , Big Pharma driven) medical profession …and those who increasingly do not

          …we are social animals given to peer group pressure…think about this…how much can be a truly ‘voluntary ‘ individual decision, especially when you are sick and vulnerable and dependent on the medical profession?

  16. Cassie says:

    This is yet another “Problem>>>REACTION…..>> SOLUTION” game

    orchestrated by the Elite who own the media whose job it is to manipulate public opinion .
    This is ultimately about paving the way to dispose of society’s “unproductive” members. I can easily foresee that in about 40 years time it will be standard procedure.
    Kids are growing up today with no moral ethics, and desensitised to violence
    They are plugged into technology from an early age, being dehumanised.
    Just picture what society will be like when they are in their 40’s. They won’t bat an eyelid.