New Zealand the assisted suicide debate changes venues.

This article was published on June 12 by Mercatornet.

By Paul Russell - Director of Hope Australia.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

On June 6 Justice Collins handed down his judgement in the High Court of New Zealand in a case brought by Lecretia Seales. Ms Seales had asked the court whether it would be an offence under the Crimes Act for her doctor to be able to help her die and whether a ban on assisted dying contravened the New Zealand Bill of Rights. In rejecting her application Justice Collins observed that:

"Ms Seales’ doctor would have been at risk of being prosecuted for either murder or manslaughter if she administered a fatal drug to Ms Seales intending to kill her. She would have been at risk of being charged with assisting suicide if she provided Ms Seales with a fatal drug, intending for Ms Seales take that drug and if Ms Seales died as a consequence."

This decision has significant implications in the wake of the Robin Stransham-Ford case in South Africa, where Judge Fabricius approved euthanasia or assisted suicide for the appellant, and the Canadian decision in the Carter case that declared effectively that the prohibition on assisted suicide and euthanasia were contrary to provisions in the Canadian Bill of Rights.

In all three cases the appeals have been based on a false premise that the disabilities of advancing illness would render people unable to commit suicide at a time of their choosing and that their rights were being denied on an equal basis with other citizens. This is emotional blackmail. As a colleague of mine expressed it recently: 

"If you won't promise to kill me later when I ask you to then I will kill myself sooner ... and you will have killed me!"

This is all predicated on the false assumption that, because suicide has been decriminalized that it is legal; if it is legal, then it is a right; if it is a right then it should be accessible to all, including people with a disability.

Let's be clear: suicide was decriminalized because it is not in the best interests of a suicide survivor. Suicide is not legal. There is no right to suicide.

I use the word 'disability' deliberately in the context of all three appellants because this is precisely the basis upon which their claims were made. In fact, the Canadian Supreme Court directly identified disability as one of the reasons why someone might ask for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

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