By Ken Orr, Spokesperson, Right to Life New Zealand
Doctors are now at the front line in protecting the lives of vulnerable patients from the imminent threat of the End of Life Choice Act 2019 that comes into force on November 7th 2021, following a referendum on October 17th. This anti-life Act, if not repealed, will ultimately destroy the trust that the community has in the medical profession and indeed the medical profession itself.
Patients place their health and lives in the hands of their doctor because they trust their doctor to care for them and not to kill them.
Patients have a right to know if their general practitioner is committed to upholding the ethics of their profession; to respect the sanctity of life of every patient and to oppose giving a lethal injection to a patient or assisting in their suicide, a time-honoured part of the Hippocratic Oath.
Right to Life believes that doctors have an obligation to advise their patients that they uphold medical ethics and will refuse to participate in or cooperate with the killing of patients as provided for in the End of Life Choice Act 2019.
Right to Life encourages medical practices to prominently display in their surgery a declaration that theirs is a euthanasia free surgery and that the doctors in this practice are committed to caring for their patients in accordance with the ethics of the medical profession.
Right to Life has written to the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners confirming our support for them in opposing euthanasia. We have also requested that they consider encouraging their members to advise their patients of their opposition to euthanasia.
The World Medical Association [WMA], at its annual Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, in October 2019 adopted a revised Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.
This states: ‘The WMA reiterates its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics and that utmost respect has to be maintained for human life. Therefore, the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.’
An open letter opposing a “yes” vote for the euthanasia referendum was signed by 1,742 doctors. “Doctors are deeply concerned about the risks in this Act.” Organizer Dr. Sinead Donnelly, a Wellington-based Palliative Medicine specialist says. “In our profession every day we look after people who face dying, people who are extremely vulnerable and often feel they are a burden. Imagine introducing this choice to those people.” Let us stand in solidarity with our dedicated medical profession as they come under attack from this culture of death.