By Alex Schadenberg, executive director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
“Even if the law changed, euthanasia is unethical and cannot be condoned by the NZMA as a professional body.”
Ockelford’s comments were made only days after Sean Davidson, a South African based scientist, completed a home detention sentence for his part in causing his mother’s death in New Zealand and in relation to a debate on the topic that drew an audience of 300 people.
Ockelford maintains that NZMA opposition to euthanasia is not based on the law, but rather on ethics. He stated:
“We would be absolutely opposed as a professional body, even if the law changed. Both the national and World Medical Associations are clear, euthanasia is unethical.”
Ockelford then stated:
“If the NZMA condoned doctors taking a life, would we teach it at medical school? Would we have a course that teaches students to kill? And the ethical considerations do not stop there. Where should you put the line in the sand?”
The NZMA code of ethics states:
“Doctors should bear in mind always the obligation of preserving life wherever possible and justifiable, while allowing death to occur with dignity and comfort. In such inevitable terminal situations, treatment applied with the primary aim of relieving patient distress is ethically acceptable, even when it may have the secondary effect of shortening life.”
A bill to legalize euthanasia was recently introduced in the New Zealand legislature by Labour MP Maryan Street.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog.