The euthanasia lobby trumpeted the huge number of submissions to Health Select Committee on their petition seeking to legalise “assisted dying” in New Zealand. They said this showed we needed change. However at the Committee hearing this afternoon some of the 20,000 submissions were heard – and it gave lie to the lobbyists. The traffic was one way. And it was a resounding “NO”.
In the hour I was there waiting to comment on my own submission, the presenters heard by the MPs were literally 10 to 1 against normalising suicide in our country.
There was the young woman who had struggled through depression and was glad no “choice” was ever offered to her of ending her life. She would probably have taken it. But now she knows life gets better.
There was the palliative care nurse who saw death as not an individual right, but rather a communal event where everyone needed to be supported and protected.
There was the school guidance counsellor who described how she was legally, ethically and professionally obligated to do everything in her power to stop young people committing suicide. She asked how could she do that if suicide was validated by the State.
There was the young man opposing normalising suicide because death was final with no opportunity to change your mind. He spoke of a friend who hanged himself – but had scratch marks on his neck where he had desperately but unsuccessfully tried to reverse his tragic decision.
It was raw. It was intense. I was proud of the brave New Zealanders who turned up and put their stake in the ground to protect their vulnerable fellow citizens. Their voices were quiet, but compelling. May they be heard.