Why I am abstaining in the Euthanasia Referendum

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I have no time for ACT Party policy or 90% of what David Seymour stands for, but you have to acknowledge that he has done an outstanding job in shepherding this piece of legislation through Parliament and he has shown true political bridge building to bring together different spectrums of NZ politics. He has removed as many concerns of abuse as is possible and crafted a piece of legislation that is worthy of genuine concern and consideration.

Will this Euthanasia law allow those in pain and with terminal illness the peace they deserve or will it become a loophole for coercion?

I admit to being terribly torn.

I look at the appalling way the State ‘cares’ for the mentally ill, prisoners, beneficiaries, state tenants and wards of the state. In each case, the state deforms and maims the most vulnerable DESPITE having a duty of care.

Once you take the duty of care muzzle off the snarling state, the way euthanasia does, the coercion to allow the weakest and most vulnerable to die is a greased slippery slope.

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Look at the way the State 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.

My deepest fear is that it is simply a matter of time before a Wellington Bureaucrat sees euthanasia as a cost cutting method.

Is that too ghoulish and cynical of me?

Perhaps, but 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 Oranga Tamariki looks after children in their care. We know how damaging Housing NZ, WINZ and the Ministry of Development are towards beneficiaries.

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

That is my genuine fear, but is my fear of this being used as a loophole enough to vote against it?

I just don’t know if my fear is a good enough reason to deny any New Zealander who finds themselves in this position. I don’t wish for any fellow human being to suffer for one second longer than they must and when the medical science clearly states their time is limited and they are in terminal decline, can my cynicism of state power deny another human peace?

I don’t believe I can vote for this legislation because I fear what the State will do with this but equally I don’t believe I have the right to deny another New Zealander who finds themselves in this terrible position.

So, I am abstaining in the Euthanasia referendum. I will write ‘Abstain’ on the ballot form, and while I appreciate it won’t be counted, I will have made the philosophical and ethical decision that I can live with.

 

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26 COMMENTS

  1. A thoughtful analysis I agree with, Martyn.

    The state has little (or no) regard for the weakest members of society. Indeed, it is an important component of the fascistic neoliberal system that those near the top of the social-financial pyramid utilise the weakest members of society to as ‘cannon-fodder’ for their various money-making schemes. And we already have the dismal scenario of health care by quota because of lake of funding. NTBR is standard practice.

    Charles Hugh Smith emphasises that the US has a simulacrum system*, not authentic but providing the facade of authenticity, and we in NZ also have a simulacrum system, with authentic components embedded in it: good people attempting to do the right thing but continually stymied by corporate systems and unrealistic budgets.

    It is clear that, as well as destroying the environment and pushing increasing numbers of people into desperation, the system is cannibalising everything in order to keep unearned benefits flowing towards those near the top of the pyramid [in the short term].

    Undoubtedly, as the environment and economy deteriorate further -an unavoidable consequence of the loot-and-pollute system, there will be increasing pressure to reduce the number of ‘useless eaters’.

    https://www.oftwominds.com/blogoct20/simulacrum-economy10-20.html

    • Early morning slow brain syndrome. Sorry. that should read:

      The state has little (or no) regard for the weakest members of society. Indeed, it is an important component of the fascistic neoliberal system that those near the top of the social-financial pyramid utilise the weakest members of society as ‘cannon-fodder’ for their various money-making schemes. And we already have the dismal scenario of health care by quota because of lack of funding. NTBR is standard practice.

      Additionally, there was an excellent interview on Breakfast (for a change; it does happen every few weeks) concerning poisoning of the Pacific*, a legacy of the use of weapons of mass destruction, the testing of weapons of mass destruction, and chemical poisoning -largely associated with warfare.

      The number of people quoted as being seriously affected was 600,000 (but I’m sure the actual figure is much higher, with more bombs and poisons dropped on Vietnam than the entire tonnage dropped on Germany, much of it in rural areas). The intergenerational crimes committed through from the 1940s to present times (yes the great grandchildren of victims of the 1940s are suffering now) reminds me of the intergenerational crimes being committed by the BAU mob that have so much to say in NZ as they promote destruction of life (human and non-human) in the present and future, not via euthanasia but by use of fossil fuels, use of internal combustion engines, use of industrial chemicals, use of agricultural chemicals and artificial fertilisers etc.

      And I should not leave out the promotion of sugary foods and other ingredients of industrial living that readily lead to obesity and diabetes and tooth decay etc. -which are now at ‘plague’ levels- but don’t get a mention because they are an important component of BAU.

      Of course, John Campbell is happy to feature such reports Poisoning the Pacific because it was ‘them’ and not us (even though NZ supported and participated in the activities) and because it was ‘then’ and not now (even as NZ discharges an inordinate quantity of pollutants -extraordinarily high per capita- into the environment as a consequence of being the industrial consumption-driven society it is.

      “Put the spotlight elsewhere, not here, thank you.”

      Also featured on Breakfast today was Collin’s espousing her blame the victim narrative and lying to the nation (as per usual) with her “were all born equal and all get the same choices/chances” nonsense that will probably appeal to the privileged in NZ society.

      *For more than 70 years, US military operations have been contaminating the Pacific region with toxic substances including radioactive fallout, nerve agent and dioxin-tainted Agent Orange. Hundreds of thousands of service members, their families and local residents have been exposed to these poisons – but the US government has persistently tried to hide the damage and refused to help victims. Based on 12,000+ pages of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and interviews with military whistleblowers and survivors, this book reveals the enormous extent of contamination and the lengths the Pentagon will go to conceal it.

      “The record of criminality, deceit, evasion of responsibility, and disdain for the fate of victims laid forth in this devastating account is difficult to believe. It is an eloquent call to bring this tragedy to an end without delay.” Noam Chomsky

      https://www.jonmitchellinjapan.com/poisoning-the-pacific.html

      • Personally I don’t think this should be a “political” question.

        In other words, I don’t think it should be the state who decides how individuals and families control their sovereign rights.

        In principle, ending one’s own or another’s suffering sounds compassionate. But there are some serious factors:
        1) The law can be abused
        2) The law is being enforced by state legislation.

        Human rights law is the most fundamental “right to life” that protects human sovereignty. The more countries “code” acts and legislation that creates “our own version” the fundamental principles become further open to interpretation and that’s where it gets diluted and dangerous.

        In a referendum – there should be another option besides yes, now or abstain. There should be “other” and a reason given. In other words “I think there are some merits to this act but the legal coding itself doesn’t hold for me”.

        Human rights law is “the right to life” and not the “right to death” for a very good reason. Anyone who has been exposed to law and genocide for instance can see the other side of “right to death” when it becomes in the hands of a state. I personally have suffered enormously due to human rights abuse. When I reached out for help – it was public officials making their own negative discriminatory interpretations and getting their club together to deny my assistance.

        I don’t think its great that a little girl suffers terribly until death. But I am also aware of the legal case of the woman who murdered her own degrading disabled terminally ill daughter in such a horrible way by burning her and throwing a hairdryer into the bathtub – then claiming assisting her death to relieve her suffering. We might say that will never happen in such a controlled environment. In genocide, people who were doctors, “ethical” people joined in the holocaust campaigns with little incentive – they simply turned to be within the herd mentality.

        My comment here is to say – let there be case law precedent to be heard to “contest” for assisted dying – not a coded act that gives control to those who may abuse it. And importantly don’t dilute the little we have left of human rights under UNDHR by assuming interpreted codification

        So the answer will be “abstain” or “no” but with full compassionate support to those suffering.

  2. You admit to being terribly torn?
    Me too but fuck seymour. He’s the rat up roger douglas’s trouser leg and any fancy twerking side stepping political square dancing done by seymour is because his strings are being tugged by dirty little douglas.
    seymour’s misty eyed concerns for those in dire terminal illness my hairy arse. He couldn’t give one small flying feathered fuck for those poor buggers who must endure the cynicism seymour and his cronies are trying to ram down our throats. seymour and his shadow vampire douglas are about as evil as the word permits.
    In a nut shell; his quest to aid the terminally ill in their ‘journey’ is to simply get rid of costly, sickly dead wood from being a drain on his free market dogma values. ( While I’m no God botherer because bone cancer in children. God? What the fuck? ) But that is Satanic in my opinion.
    You will write abstain? I’m writing ‘no’ because fuck ACT.

    • Wow Countryboy, it,s as if I wrote this myself.
      Seymour doesn’t give a shit because this sort of policy is a policy around compassion and all Seymours done around the governments covid response has been about saving money not lives. He’s a hypocrite of the highest order so as you say fuck ACT!

      • Serious lack of empathy/humanity here, Countryboy/Bert.

        See the item in today’s Herald about Lucretia Seales, whose parents are quoted below. They know whereof they speak:

        “The couple say they are tired of the emotive arguments that euthanasia is an abuse of the elderly, mentally ill and disabled.

        “It’s not compulsory so you don’t have to do it,” says Larry.

        “But you don’t have to stop someone else’s right to do it – you are not eligible unless you are dying of some terminal illness. This whole slippery slope argument is somehow once you do this you are going to bop off old people, your disabled, that it’s going to encourage more suicides is just scaremongering. It’s not based on fact.

        “Those arguments were raised in Lecretia’s court case. If you looked at Oregon who have had this for years – there was no evidence there. The same arguments get thrown up all the time,” Shirley says.”

        • Tom, no empathy or compassion for Seymour as it is difficult when someone is a plastic doll or a leech placed on dead skin(National) to heal a wound. The referendum itself is a different issue. Personally I will vote “for” in spite of Seymour, not because of him. He is pro guns, and pro euthanasia, not sure they go hand in hand. He is also against the referendum on Marijuana, yet that is also used by people to ease pain. So to summarize, anti Seymour pro euthanasia.

  3. Well I have already voted for it.

    I watched my mother die slowly of cancer, she said that she would have liked access to the drugs

    I have spent the last 8 years looking after my father. Every day he says that this is no way to live and I would like to die. Being blind legless and losing his mind is no way to live. He voted for the Bill

    And I myself was faced with a cancer prognosis that gave me little chance of survival. I was lucky and did survive so far. But the first thing I did after talking with family members about helping with my children was to set up a way to end things on my own terms if that bad prognosis played out. Not every one has the resources I could access in that situation.

    Allowing people the dignity of choosing their day to die is only decent kind and a human right

  4. Anyone who has seen the torment a significant minority of dying patients endure at the end of their lives will be highly motivated to vote yes. As a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis, I have already voted yes.
    Nevertheless, I think your position, Martyn, is an honourable one. If only others who are torn — or even opposed on religious grounds — would just stand back like you and not deny others the choice they would earn a lot of respect. Many thanks.

  5. ” 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 ”
    Bomber your fears are well founded and i did write earlier on that i had grave fears about the power this would unleash to those with sinister motives. The legislation changed enough for me to change my mind and i voted to support the current law. I was still very mindful of the points you have raised and recently my mother contracted lung cancer at an advanced age and sadly passed away a few months after her diagnosis but it was difficult to not be able to do anything to relieve her suffering as she declined any cancer treatment. If the law had been in place i would have struggled with her ending her own life but it would have been her decision to make and until you are in that space it is hard to understand a loved ones desire to be free of pain and suffering.
    I believe this will pass into law with sufficient safeguards to prevent the ” market ” murdering innocent people and i don’t think most New Zealanders have even comprehended the cruelty of the state in this because most people are voting on compassionate grounds.
    I hope that people will vote the same way on medicinal cannabis and no longer making possessing it a crime and reform the way we deal with a class c drug.

  6. I have supported End of Life Choice most of my adult life, and as an member of VES, and basically still do.

    Unlike Martyn, my current concern is not about direct state coercion, but subliminal coercion, which is happening right now, as the result of govt life-devaluing policies and practices, which drive people into states of desperation and hopelessness, where death may offer them the peace of mind which eludes them in life.

    The fear imbued in the elderly impecunious that their ordinary, sometimes run-down homes, could hit the million dollar mark, and they be declared millionaires under the Greens’ simplistic proposed tax whack, and having to scramble for money when they cannot afford to even keep their places warm in winter, I see as a subliminal attack on undeserving people. The more deserving people may in fact be the real rich who know how to squirrel away their income and assets, but that is not the song sheet that neo-libs are willing or able to sing from, it seems.

    Arguments that rellies will pressure the unwilling old and ailing to sign off, tend to come from religious people terrified of death themselves; in practice, agreeing to someone being allowed to end their own life, is a big and difficult ask, I’ve been there.

    It is the impact of devious and cunning subliminal pressures which is malevolent, exceedingly cruel, and possibly more to be feared than overt pressure. I daresay that if Hitler et al pulled it off, then others will too. Nevertheless, I want more control over my own end times than I have seen others have.

  7. Don’t like Seymour but the way he has handled this issue is a stark contrast to Ardern who won’t come out and support cannabis law reform. Yet she said earlier this year we were to have the most transparent campaign from her. What a shame her lack of bravery may cost us the cannabis referendum. I was going to vote Labour but decided to vote greens instead because of Jacinda divering and tip toeing around cannabis law reform.

    • You need to be a little more political savvy my friend. There are enough clues from Ardern as to which way she will vote on weed. However if she was to openly tell people before or even after the election then she becomes opposition fodder.
      Imagine Collins, she would become a rabid dog with rabies, dining out daily on Arderns flesh.
      And aren’t we entitled to a secret vote on the referendum?

  8. I am opposed to anything that leads to the termination of life
    Abortion, capital punishment, suicide, assisted suicide, and militarism.

    • ‘I am opposed to anything that leads to the termination of life’

      How about the use of fossil fuels? That leads to the termination of millions of lives every year in dozens of ways; the invasions of nations rich in fossil fuels by those not so rich in fossil fuels; the deaths by poisoning of indigenous people living in regions where fossil fuels are extracted; the deaths of people who operate machinery running on fossil fuels -cars, rucks, boats planes-and the deaths of people -mostly pedestrians and cyclists- who just happen to be in he wrong place at the wrong time. Ang the biggest one of all, the deaths of millions of people as a consequence of planetary overheating, which will soon reach the point of causing hundreds of millions of deaths, and then billions of deaths. And very likely complete extinction of the human species in a matter of decades.

      How about tobacco? which is still one of the biggest killers in the world.

      Alcohol? Well documented as a killer, both by direct ingestion and as consequence of its effects on humans’ capacity to act sensibly.

  9. If you ever have to look after someone with a painful terminal illness who wants to go I can assure you, you wont be torn. I will be emphatically voting yes on this one.

    Well done ACT. This is why we need small parties to grow and replace the political dead wood.

  10. Well I have voted against euthanasia ….mainly because I do not trust the medical profession after seeing how they killed off my Mother after denying her a small throat operation and then hitting her with drugs like fentanyl( she pleaded with me to get her out of hospital and she wanted to live)She did not have cancer and she did not have dementia. She did have chronic pain and wanted to live. She was very much loved and valued.

    …but that said, it is a thorny issue and I have great sympathy for those terminally ill who do want help dying and those who do want to help their dying relatives and friends ( I would have tried to help my Mother if this had been what she wanted, but she explicitly told me she wanted to live despite chronic pain)

    On another issue of medical ethics and the covid virus ( as well as the drugs that Trump used) this is worth a watch. This is by a doctor who is admirable in his bravery and his intellect. If only all doctors could be like him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_5rkCi-Xqo

  11. Many good and important points, Martyn. I share these concerns, especially about what future governments might do with the End of Life Choice Act.

    All of us want terminally ill people to have peace, dignity and good deaths free from pain. And there are already many ways these things can be achieved.

    It sounds like you don’t want to vote “no” because you support the concept of euthanasia / assisted dying.

    But the referendum is not on whether we support a concept. It’s on whether the End of Life Choice Act should “go live” the way it’s written now. It’s inferior to overseas assisted dying laws in many ways. The least Parliament could have done was to make sure the overseas tried-and-tested safeguards are included in this Bill, but no. The differences between this Act and overseas laws were not debated.

    A ‘yes’ vote means a vote of confidence in all the details of the End of Life Choice Act and in its level of protections.

    A ‘no’ vote is for everything less than absolute confidence. A ‘no’ vote does not necessarily mean ‘never’. It just means ‘not this Act in its current form.

    You’re welcome to contact me at 0800 42 76 42 if you like to discuss more.

  12. Compared to everywhere we are a pretty alright liberal democracy. No lurking evil. So, from the longtime head of the Cranford Hospice in my home-town Hawke’s Bay, I’ll vote For. Suspicion and paranoia are the organised tosh that supports the powerful.

  13. Made the same call myself. Seymour simply cannot be trusted on such an issue – his motives are lower and dirtier than a hagfish’s grave.

  14. I can well imagine the point where I would, in fact, rather die than be left reliant on State “Care”. Even if i knew thats the choice they wanted me to make.

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