An ‘obli­ga­tion to die’?

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

In this elec­tion year, it is well that we keep our eyes open as to the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of law changes be­ing mooted, sup­pos­edly in our in­ter­ests but maybe not.

Over time, laws passed with the best of in­ten­tions can be se­ri­ously eroded, lead­ing to re­sults the leg­is­la­tors did not an­tic­i­pate.

Take the Con­tra­cep­tion, Ster­il­i­sa­tion and Abor­tion Act of 1977, for in­stance.

This was in­tro­duced and sold to the pub­lic as be­ing a means of stop­ping back­street abor­tions and of­fer­ing women who wished to ter­mi­nate their preg­nan­cies a legal and safe means of do­ing so.

It was never in­tended to pro­vide abor­tion on de­mand, al­though that ap­pears to be the sit­u­a­tion 34 years on.

Move into 21st cen­tury New Zealand and see what has hap­pened. In June this year, the Court of Ap­peal stated that the un­born child has no legal right to live.

This is not mak­ing a law, of course, but sim­ply af­firm­ing that, af­ter study­ing all ap­pro­pri­ate leg­is­la­tion, it was found that there is no law in our coun­try pro­tect­ing the un­born. In other words, un­til they emerge from the womb, ba­bies sim­ply do not ex­ist in the eyes of the law. Other coun­tries with much looser leg­is­la­tion than ours go fur­ther. In one coun­try a GP can be pros­e­cuted for al­low­ing a dis­abled child to be born. This is scary stuff.

Take an­other law which is likely to im­pinge more di­rectly on the el­derly of New Zealand. At the mo­ment, euthana­sia is, by law, mur­der. There are many in the coun­try who, for their own good rea­sons, are urg­ing politi­cians to have as­sisted sui­cide le­galised.

There are other coun­tries in the world where such prac­tices are legal. While there ap­pear to be wa­ter­tight reg­u­la­tions around the leg­is­la­tion, it is known that many peo­ple get around the law and en­cour­age those with long-term, se­ri­ously dis­abling con­di­tions to al­low them­selves to be ‘‘as­sisted’’ to die.

And what about fam­i­lies want­ing to cash in on their in­her­i­tance ac­tu­ally pres­sur­ing el­derly peo­ple to choose as­sisted sui­cide? They do ex­ist. Could ‘‘choice to die’’ be­come ‘‘obli­ga­tion to die’’ in our coun­try? It’s pos­si­ble.

The point is that the in­ten­tion of the leg­is­la­tion of­ten turns out to be vastly dif­fer­ent in prac­tice. It is in the letter of the law that the loop­holes can be found.

I know the huge bulk of words in any piece of leg­is­la­tion is daunt­ing and li­able to put off any in­ter­ested per­sons who might like to ques­tion it.

It is much eas­ier for us or­di­nary New Zealan­ders to leave it all to the politi­cians to ar­gue and sort out.

But if we don’t want leg­is­la­tion with long-term ef­fects like those cited above, we need to take an in­ter­est in it, and an ac­tive, ques­tion­ing in­ter­est at that.

An­other point: does the com­par­a­tively small num­ber of items of leg­is­la­tion of­fered to a con­science vote dis­turb you? More of­ten than not, politi­cians are ex­pected to fol­low the party line, and that is not al­ways the most moral.

So think about it. Don’t be afraid to ask par­lia­men­tary can­di­dates their per­sonal views on moral is­sues and whether they have the stom­ach to de­fend those views in the face of the party ma­chine.

We do have an elec­tion this year. It’s time to stand up for what we be­lieve in.

This month we are to be ad­dressed by Patelo Alo­sio from ACC.

Now, ACC is an in­sti­tu­tion which cops a lot of flak one way or an­other.

But it also has a lot of ad­vice to of­fer us el­derly peo­ple on ways to keep out of its own clutches. See you there, I hope.

Date: Tues­day, July 12. Time: 1.30pm. Venue: The Porirua Club, Lodge Place, Porirua. Con­tact: He­len Grif­fith, 236 0112.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.