6 October 2018
Today the Presbyterian Church decided that it does not support euthanasia and assisted suicide as proposed in the End of Life Choice Bill.
“We believe that all life is precious. We are created in God’s image and accordingly human life is sacred,” said Rev Dr Stuart Lange of the Church’s Doctrine Core Group, which presented a comprehensive report on the matter to the Church’s General Assembly for consideration.
The decision was made by more than 300 Presbyterians who represent churches throughout New Zealand and are currently gathered in Christchurch for the Church’s biennial General Assembly.
“State-sanctioned provision for doctors to actively end people’s lives or assist their suicide is, for the Presbyterian Church, ethically unacceptable. We believe that in the long-term it would be dangerous for public safety, especially for those who are seriously ill, depressed, disabled, or very elderly,” says Rev Dr Lange.
“Also, it’s our view that the Bill is medically unnecessary because terminally-ill patients already have the right to decline surgery or any life-prolonging treatment.
“Another reason the Church is objecting to this Bill is because medically-assisted suicide would undermine attempts to reduce this country’s already alarmingly high suicide rate.
“We also believe that safeguards in the proposed legislation are inadequate. Some of the supposed ‘safeguards’ appear slightly farcical, like the requirement to warn the persons of the “irreversible nature” and “anticipated impacts” of assisted dying.
“These safeguards appear to be designed primarily not to protect not the public, but rather the legal impunity of those doctors administering euthanasia, through providing a trail of signed authorisations.
“Also, we are concerned that unscrupulous families may exert pressure and the so-called ‘right to die’ would, for some, become ‘the pressure to die’, even ‘the obligation to die’. We believe that this Bill would open the way to the ultimate state-sanctioned abuse of both the elderly and the vulnerable.
“The Presbyterian Church will be urging Parliament to respect the dignity and value of all human lives, to stringently protect the lives of society’s most vulnerable, and not to pass the End of Life Choice Bill.”