Note: New Zealanders will go to the polls sometime later this year. It is widely expected that a new euthanasia bill will be listed in the ballot after the election.
Euthanasia campaigner calls for New Zealand to follow Belgium’s lead on child euthanasia
BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN,
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, February 17, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A pro-euthanasia campaigner has called for New Zealand to follow Belgium’s lead by legalizing euthanasia for children.
Lesley Martin, who was convicted for attempting to murder her mother, believes the practice is already happening in New Zealand, although “covertly” and “without official sanction.”
"It's because doctors are compassionate people and they can see a terminally ill child suffering and still administer excessive doses of medication in the same way that they do with adults," Martin claimed in an interview with 3News.
However this assertion has been contested by Dr. David Richmond, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine and spokesperson for Euthanasia-Free NZ. He believes that the Australia and New Zealand Society for Palliative Care “would strenuously deny that terminally ill children are deliberately overdosed with medication so as to bring about their early death.”
Martin’s allegation, he says, is a deliberate attempt at “trying to convince the New Zealand public that there is already widespread use of euthanasia in New Zealand,” in order “to soften them up for the re-introduction of the End of Life Choice Bill or its successor.”
The End of Life Choice Bill, was introduced into the private member’s ballot by Labour MP Maryan Street in 2012. It was withdrawn in September 2013 amidst pressure from her party, which did not want such an emotive topic debated in 2014, an election year.
Had the bill passed into law, adults would have been able to request euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide for an “irreversible physical or mental medical condition that, in the person's view, renders his or her life unbearable.”
Euthanasia for children is a possibility that Street has not ruled out. At a 2013 public meeting in New Plymouth, she commented on the issue saying that it “was a bridge too far in my view at this time,” but “that might be something that may happen in the future.”
Dr Richmond believes that this indicates “she and other proponents of legalising euthanasia” are “planning behind the scenes to extend the indications as soon as they think the public will stomach them.”
Concerned about children’s vulnerability, Richmond contests that they will “have no power to counter the opinion of adults, especially doctors” who believe “that their best option is death.”
He warns that Belgium’s move to legalize child euthanasia “is showing us that once legalised, euthanasia spreads like an epidemic to include everyone from the youngest to the oldest in its fearsome grip.”