Doctors are Saying No to Assisted Suicide in New Zealand.

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Sinead Donnelly

New Zealand is having a referendum on euthanasia as part of its October 17 federal election.

New Zealand’s parliament passed a euthanasia bill in November 2019 by a vote of 69 to 51. To obtain the votes to pass the Act, the government agreed to a referendum.

Doctors say no’ is an Open Letter to all New Zealanders by doctors supporting the World Medical Association and New Zealand Medical Association position statements that euthanasia and assisted suicide are unethical, even if they were to become legal.

Doctors say no have more than 1,750 signatures from New Zealand doctors for a letter to New Zealand citizens opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide [“Doctors want no part in assisted suicide]. The letter states:

We are committed to the concept of death with dignity and comfort, including the provision of effective pain relief and excellence in palliative care.  …

We uphold the right of patients to decline treatment, as set out in the NZ Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.

We know that the proper provision of pain relief, even if it may unintentionally hasten the death of the patient, is ethical and legal. Equally the withdrawal or withholding of futile treatment in favour of palliative care is ethical and legal.

We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to die would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship which is based on trust and respect.

We are especially concerned with protecting vulnerable people who can feel they have become a burden to others, and we are committed to supporting those who find their own life situations a heavy burden. 

The Open Letter notes

Doctors are not necessary in the regulation or practice of assisted suicide. They are included only to provide a cloak of medical legitimacy. Leave doctors to focus on saving lives and providing real care to the dying.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.