The neoliberal seductiveness of euthanasia


Hello, I’m not politically relevant any longer.

There is a neoliberal seductiveness about euthanasia.

It creates this false narrative of ‘choice’ and puts us all in the fake position of ‘what if it was me’.

The truth is that the vast majority of those who die do so without immense pain and suffering, this is legislation for the exceptions, not the rule…

Many people fear death partly because of the perception they might suffer increasing pain and other awful symptoms the nearer it gets.

There is often the belief palliative care may not alleviate such pain, leaving many people to die excruciating deaths.

But an excruciating death is extremely rare, reports The Conversation.

The evidence about palliative care is that pain and other symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia and breathing issues, actually improve as people move closer to death.

More than 85 percent of palliative care patients have no severe symptoms by the time they die.

Evidence from the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC) at the University of Wallongong shows that there has been a statistically significant improvement over the last decade in pain and other end-of-life symptoms.

…more than 85% of palliative care patients have no severe symptoms by the time of death? The issue here is that palliative care is expensive, and what the Government are suggesting is cost cutting.

It should come as no surprise that ACT, the far right political party are pushing for this reform. For them it is the perfect collusion of total individualism (the act to kill yourself) and the purity of the market to efficiently end those no longer contributing.

Self-assisted suicide – which is what we are really discussing here, not the far more sterilised ‘euthanasia’, will become a means to a neoliberal end in NZ.

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Look at the horrific manner in which NZs institutes treat the most vulnerable. Look at how we treat the mentally ill, the poor and prisoners. How long do any of you honestly believe it will take for some Wellington bureaucrat to start planning to use this legislation for all those costing the health budget?

It happened before under National in the 1990s, and that was when euthanasia was illegal.

We are being conned into believing euthanasia is a solution to a fear of living in pain during death that isn’t the reality for the vast majority of us.

This legislation is to appease alpha personalities who can not tolerate the idea of needing help in the painful end of their lives, but it will be used against the poorest and most vulnerable who are already so easily abused by the State.



  1. It is about choice.

    And there are many horrible ways to die suffering that don’t involve unbearable pain. As a recipient of a double lung transplant I’ve been there, right to the edge. I also know my transplanted organs will eventually fail and I’ll go there again. Except this time I’ll make sure I won’t.

    So to all the arsehole moralists who want to condemn me to again suffocating slowly to death I invite you to go fuck yourselves, including you Mr Bradbury.

  2. Bomber, you still haven’t responded to the points I raised on your last piece on this topic. Removing criminal sanctions against people who choose to do something (like smoke a joint) or those who assist them in doing so (like by giving them a joint), is not and cannot be conflated with forcing people to do that thing. Plus, while ACT do happen to be the vehicle by which this legislation has entered parliament, they have done little to no previous campaigning on the issue. Activists from across the left/right spectrum have been working on this issue for decades, and those with short memories might be interested to know that the last time a bill to decriminalise assisted dying was introduced to parliament was by NZ First:

    Finally, the use of the term “suicide” is misleading here, as it conjures images of young people killing themselves in desperation and hopelessness. The people this bill would apply to are already close to dying, and their lives cannot be saved by anything currently available to medical science. The question is not if they will die – they will – but whether they can choose when and how they will die, so they can say their goodbyes and die with dignity.

    • how do you define “close to dying”?

      …not even the medical profession can predict death…often they are years out in their predictions of time of death

      …lets face it we are all dying and in fact “close to dying” …Life is short in the big scheme of things and the line between life and death small

      …what is to stop you from saying your “goodbyes” months ,weeks , days in advance ?

      • “how do you define “close to dying”?”

        I don’t get to define this and neither do you, or any politician. It is a call to be made by suitably qualified medical professionals. There’s nothing new about the fact that at a certain stage of illness, people are told that no currently available treatment can save their lives, and that they should prepare themselves for death. My point, one that you ignore because it doesn’t suit your argument, is that these cases are totally different from the what we usually mean by “suicide”, otherwise healthy people choosing to take their own lives.

      • “…what is to stop you from saying your “goodbyes” months ,weeks , days in advance ?”

        That’s a ridiculous argument.

        You can already do that, now, at any time. It’s called suicide. Physically fit and able people are able to do that right now, as they choose.

        It’s the infirm and terminally ill who are not physically fit and able to carry out their end at their own choosing we’re talking about.

  3. The main objection I have to those who oppose assisted euthanasia is:
    What if you need others to terminate a miserable life you find unbearable if you have a degenerative disease like multiple sclerosis, Huntingtons,muscular dystrophy, or degenerative myopathy.Or dozens of other conditions that have a similar effect? You are dodging answering this Martin! And I don’t care if Atilla the Hun is for assisted euthanasia . It is not a valid argument against it.
    Your argument is basically that in order to right some undoubtedly valid wrongs that may happen ,or protect us from some suspected abuses that may come from assisted euthanasia , that we should prohibit it with serious consequences like jail time for those criminals who assist.[ Because at the moment they are branded criminals and face jail time.] Surely a more intelligent approach would be for us progressives to be aware of the possibilities for abuse and to be eternally vigilant to protect the public from this?
    Most people have insurance policies against some unforeseen tragedy/affliction/ accident. That is what assisted euthanasia is: An insurance policy you hope to never use !

    • re “Most people have insurance policies against some unforeseen tragedy/affliction/ accident.”…actually this is a very middle class perspective and probably most middle class people do

      …but most of the “poorest and most vulnerable who are already so easily abused by the State”( as Martyn Bradbury describes)…do Not!

      • My apologies Red Buzzard.I did not realize that the poorest and most vulnerable would not be covered by assisted euthanasia and it is only for the middle classes.Now why didn’t I figure that out myself?

        • HISTORIAN PETE …the point is that there is not one rule for all as you assume …while the middle classes have insurance the poor do not

          …likewise it is the poorest most vulnerable who will not receive medical help when they need it …but rather will be pressured into ‘euthanasia’

          • Yes, indeed @RB – but in a world where the disabled are treated as if invisible the awareness of this issue is totally missing.
            I’ve yet to hear advocates for euthanasia address at all this issue apart from saying there are safeguards.

          • There seems to be an assumption here that as well as being poor and vulnerable they are also stupid.So stupid that they could not contact a pro-euthanasia group/ngo, and receive information/assistance. Your attitude is somewhat patronising.From your lofty intellectual position you can pontificate on the fate of these people. How about letting the poor and vulnerable make up their own minds , if they are faced with the dilemma as I have described it! You might just find that the poor and vulnerable are a lot smarter than you imagine!!

            • Last year, someone close to me had to be resuscitated. Explicitly because this person is female, older and was in bad shape, the family was asked – twice – whether she was “worth saving”. It’s pure naivety to think that euthanasia will always happen in a best-case scenario, where people have access to all relevant information, are mentally well and are are free from coercion, real or perceived. And you’d be ignorant of the cold, hard facts of involuntary euthanasia, happening everywhere where ‘safeguards’ are meant to be in place.

      • I’m with red buzzard,

        The croooked insurance companies threw us off the 35 yr opolicy we had with them when we both reched 70 yrs old the criminal bastards.

        They knew we were high risk at that age but the contact was for life and they screwed us good and said ‘if you want to keep on the policy pay your monthly bill will that climb 20% every year from then.

        This was a criminal excersise the national Government was welcoming of the insurance companies to screw us aged, poor, pensioners.

        We complained to the insurance commissioner and the ombudsman who showed no interest.

        So I am petrified now as if I die we have no coverage for eachother now after faithfully keeping a policy for 35 tyrs for our old age insurance, so if there is no safety net should we get ill and this bill is made law, what is to stop the medical community putting us to death now?

  4. 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?

  5. “this is legislation for the exceptions, not the rule…”

    Then so is medicinal marijuana legalisation. It’s a nonsense argument. Any suffering that is alleviated or avoided is a good, not bad.

    • Legislation doesn’t remain stationary. The whole process is constantly moving. You have to think of it as a system of systems. And this is the Pandora’s box of misery. Once it’s open you can’t close it.

      So what ever the legislation says now will change over time as people fuck, and they always do.

    • re nonsense arguments : “Any suffering that is alleviated or avoided is a good, not bad.” … yup and it could cause a speedy death like Fentanyl

      (Fentanyl widely used by drug addicts causing their deaths in the USA , the medical profession and implicated in corruption by Big Pharma…is this happening in New Zealand? )

      …so lets alleviate the suffering of the poor and infirm and the elderly in pain with Fentanyl and legalised euthanasia

      … and lets deny the people legalised safe medicinal cannabis for their pain , which they can use themselves without doctors

      …this sort of skewed logic makes people suspicious of legalised euthanasia and the medical profession

  6. Well said.
    It should also be remembered that New Zealand is not Nazi Germany and never will be.
    There will be sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure that it only happens to those who genuinely want to end their lives.
    My father, a very active man, described to me how he would end his life in the event he became bedridden, which to him would be a fate much worse than death.
    I respected his decision.
    In the event his end was quick so it didn’t enter the equation.


    • OK, you brought up the Nazi era, so I’ll take the bait.

      The chilling thing about Germany in WW2 is that the culture was what we would deem civilised. The people were and are sophisticated, disciplined and orderly. You’d better believe we are capable of the same atrocities.

      I dare you to delve deep into what disability advocates are saying about assisted suicide. Spend an hour or two watching Liz Carr. She and others aren’t fooled by ‘safeguards’.

  7. I was so surprised and delighted, Bomber, to learn you opposed this bill. This article and the previous one you wrote on it a few days ago were both excellent. In our present economic/social/political system it will surely become used to pressure the old, weak, handicapped, disturbed etc to end their lives — all of those who are a “burden” (financial burden) on the system. It can also, horribly, be used by those desiring to get their hands on their “expected and deserved” inheritance. Why do so many not see this? Those who are suffering should have their pain alleviated, and proper pain treatment is a big part of the answer. Not the whole answer. But is there a full and total good answer? I don’t think so.

  8. All Moralists be damned! Arrogating to oneself the power of life and death over others is the ultimate act of presumption.

    Martyn, how the heck can you claim Euthanasia is a Neo-liberal agenda item, when it is the fat cat medical professionals who are profiting most from the present public policy of prolonging death as long as possible?

    When my time comes, which hopefully will not be for many years, it will be my sacred duty to defy all Statist assholes and Tyrants by determining my own end as I see fit, not when the last dollar has been extracted from my estate.

    • No one is talking about prolonging death. Where did you get that idea? Hospice (the philosophy and the organisation) is about easing people’s natural deaths. There’s no prolonging or hastening.

      It’s already legal to accept or refuse medical treatment, resuscitation and life support. Value the many choices you already have without endangering others.

  9. The euthanasia bill is not needed. We know the Euthanasia monopoly conflates facets and uses false advertising to create confusion among law makers and the public to benefit their monopoly. Their bright goal is to assure their corporate choice prevails over your choice. Your choice is not assured by the euthanasia bill,be sure of that.

  10. The state must never ever approve of or authorise the killing of its own citizens.

    Just as the death penalty has a barbaric aspect, so do ‘mercy killings’.

    Worse still, the creation of comfortable, convenient, cheap forms of death is going to be an attractive allure to many who can no longer see value or meaning in living.

    In the Netherlands, 6000 people a year undergo euthanasia. In NZ, the per capita figure would translate to about 1600 Kiwis being killed a year.

    And that’s on top of our already horrific suicide rate.

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