"Our ultimate goal ... is not a good death but a good life to the very end" Atul Gawande

 

We live in a time when personal choice is seen as a good thing. And if it is a good thing then surely it should apply to all aspects of our lives, including the end of life? Yet we also know that our choices, almost always, affect other people. And making a choice to take our own life early will affect others profoundly.

Despite this you may think that, in extreme cases, people should still be given the choice of assisted suicide even though it will affect others. There might be a genuine fear of pain and suffering as death approaches. Or family and friends might agree to support a loved one opting for assisted suicide or euthanasia out of love and compassion.

It is important to remember however that there are other ways to show love and compassion apart from assisted suicide or euthanasia. To quote Gawande.

We damage entire societies if we let providing this capability divert us from improving the lives of the ill. Assisted living is far harder than assisted death, but its possibilities are far greater as well.

In the end, there is great relief in being free from the burden of choice. So let's not impose that burden on thousands of Kiwis and their families who, if the law was changed, would be required to consider whether or not to actively shorten their lives. Might that choice, made not just once but potentially every day, become its own form of intolerable suffering? 

Please consider writing to Parliament in support of our present law which allows for genuine patient choice and autonomy, while protecting the interests of the many who would become vulnerable and at risk if assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalised.

 

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