A jus­tice is­sue

The Northland Age - - Opinion - KEN ORR Right to Life JOHN MATTHEWS By email

The Prime Min­is­ter, Jacinda Ardern, has writ­ten to the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, An­drew Lit­tle, di­rect­ing him to re­fer the abor­tion laws to the Law Com­mis­sion for re­view and “how best to make changes to en­sure New Zealand’s abor­tion laws are con­sis­tent with treat­ing abor­tion as a health is­sue that is a re­pro­duc­tive choice for women rather than as a crim­i­nal is­sue.”

This let­ter was ob­tained by Right to Life on March 19, un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act.

The Crimes Act 1961 recog­nises abor­tion as vi­o­lence against women and their un­born. It is a se­ri­ous crime in

Sec­tion 183 un­der Part VIII Crimes against the Per­son. This im­por­tant pro­tec­tion for women and the un­born has been in the Crimes Act since 1856.

Why does the Prime Min­is­ter now want the law to be changed so that the killing of an un­born child is no longer a crime but a health is­sue?

This is an un­prece­dented move in the par­lia­men­tary his­tory of New Zealand. The un­born child is the weak­est and most de­fence­less mem­ber of the hu­man fam­ily that de­serves our re­spect and pro­tec­tion. The gov­ern­ment has no man­date for this ill-ad­vised and un­just re­view.

The re­view is be­ing driven by the Prime Min­is­ter, Jacinda Ardern, who be­lieves that the killing of the un­born should not be a crime. She also wrongly be­lieves that abor­tion crim­i­nalises women.

The Prime Min­is­ter, in re­sponse to a re­cent of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest from Right to Life, dis­closed that she had no ev­i­dence to sup­port her claims. Why then is the Prime Min­is­ter di­rect­ing the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice to con­duct a re­view that has no man­date and can­not be jus­ti­fied in law or by ev­i­dence? Why too is there a deaf­en­ing si­lence from the me­dia, who should be de­fend­ing the hu­man rights of moth­ers and the un­born?

This pro­posal will ef­fec­tively mean that those un­born who are clas­si­fied as un­wanted will be de­prived of the pro­tec­tion of the Crimes Act and al­lowed to be killed. How­ever, the un­born chil­dren who are clas­si­fied as wanted will re­tain the pro­tec­tion of the Crimes Act and of the State.

This is an ab­hor­rent and un­prece­dented vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights, it is dis­crim­i­na­tion against the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our hu­man fam­ily. To­day, the Prime Min­is­ter moves the un­born from the pro­tec­tion of the Crimes Act, to­mor­row per­haps, those with de­men­tia and Alzheimer’s.

The Crimes Act also pro­tects the health and life of the mother. The de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of abor­tion will: de­clare that the mur­der of the un­born is not a crime but a health is­sue. It will un­der­mine the dig­nity and sta­tus of women and the re­spect that we should have for preg­nancy and for the un­born child. It will ex­pose women to in­creased vi­o­lence and co­er­cion to have their un­born chil­dren killed. It will em­power men to in­sist that the mother abort her child to avoid his re­spon­si­bil­ity for pro­vid­ing main­te­nance for the child.

Any re­view should be seek­ing in­creased le­gal pro­tec­tion for the health and wel­fare of women and the right to life of the un­born. It should also be in­quir­ing into why more than 500,000 in­no­cent and de­fence­less un­born chil­dren have been killed in their moth­ers’ wombs since 1978 un­der a law that was in­tended to pro­tect their right to life.

The law re­view vi­o­lates the prin­ci­ples of the founders of the Labour Party who sought to pro­tect the fam­ily and the right to life of ev­ery mem­ber of our com­mu­nity from con­cep­tion to nat­u­ral death. Why is this once great hu­man­i­tar­ian party now pro­mot­ing an anti-life phi­los­o­phy? Sec­tion 4 of the End-of-Life Choice Bill iden­ti­fies each per­son el­i­gi­ble for as­sisted dy­ing as one who: 1. Is aged 18 or over; and 2. Is a per­son who has NZ cit­i­zen­ship or a per­ma­nent res­i­dent; 3. Suf­fers from a ter­mi­nal ill­ness that is likely to end his/her life within six months, or a griev­ous and ir­re­me­di­a­ble med­i­cal con­di­tion; and 4. Is in an ad­vanced state of ir­re­versible de­cline in ca­pa­bil­ity; and 5. Ex­pe­ri­ences un­bear­able suf­fer­ing that can­not be re­lieved in a man­ner that he/she con­sid­ers tol­er­a­ble; and 6. Has the abil­ity to un­der­stand the na­ture of as­sisted dy­ing, and the con­se­quences for him/her of as­sisted dy­ing.

I wish to take is­sue with point No 5, be­cause “un­bear­able suf­fer­ing”, in most peo­ple’s minds, would be un­bear­able pain that can’t be helped by med­i­ca­tion, which is “ex­tremely rare” (https:/ /the­con­ver­sa­tion.com/no-most-peo­plear­ent-in-se­vere-pain-when-they-die-86835).

In fact, cur­rent New Zealand law al­lows suf­fi­cient pain-killing med­i­ca­tion to re­lieve pain (make it at least bear­able) even if pro­vid­ing that med­i­ca­tion were to has­ten the end of a pa­tient’s life. If it is meant to ex­clude pain, then what sort of un­bear­able suf­fer­ing is to be cov­ered by the Bill? A de­pressed, dis­abled, sui­ci­dal, el­derly, ad­dicted or men­tally ill per­son could con­sider their suf­fer­ing to be un­bear­able.

I as­sume you don’t in­tend those sorts of suf­fer­ing, so we are re­ally left with only un­bear­able pain, which is cur­rently man­aged ad­e­quately in com­pli­ance with New Zealand law.

Since an ap­pli­cant would need to meet all of points 1 through 6, who would ever qual­ify for euthana­sia?

Ex­ist­ing pal­lia­tive care pro­to­col ad­e­quately meets all of the needs that you aim to meet with your Bill (https:/ /the­con­ver­sa­tion.com/what-is-pal­lia­tive­care-a-pa­tients-jour­ney-through-thesys­tem-82246) but is un­der­funded in New Zealand. I sug­gest that the cost of pass­ing your Bill through to leg­is­la­tion and ad­min­is­ter­ing that leg­is­la­tion would be bet­ter spent on in­creased fund­ing of pal­lia­tive care.

A nurse friend of mine, who has been work­ing in hos­pices for 45 years, has con­firmed this for me.

You have spent a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod of time work­ing on this Bill, and pre­sum­ably the above facts are well known to you al­ready. I apol­o­gise for re­peat­ing them for you here.

A short re­view of the per­for­mance of as­sisted dy­ing leg­is­la­tion in other coun­tries and states is in­cluded in my sub­mis­sion to you and your team in Fe­bru­ary this year.

Although the leg­is­la­tion of those other coun­tries and states pro­vided sim­i­lar safe­guards to those pro­posed by you, those safe­guards have largely been breached, as stated in my sub­mis­sion.

I be­lieve Hol­land is the worst ex­am­ple of this, where there are 39 rov­ing mo­bile clinics that pro­vide as­sisted sui­cide on de­mand, even af­ter an ap­pli­ca­tion has been re­jected by doc­tors, with­out any re­course to Dutch law to mod­ify the safe­guards.

I have read in the Press your re­sponses to chal­lenges of the safe­guards, where you as­sert that such breaches would be “im­pos­si­ble in New Zealand,”or that “this is cat­e­gor­i­cally not go­ing to hap­pen.”

Par­don my scep­ti­cism, but what would make New Zealand dif­fer­ent from, say, Hol­land, Canada, Wash­ing­ton State, Ore­gon State or Bel­gium, where the safe­guards have been rou­tinely and in­creas­ingly breached (as ev­i­denced in my sub­mis­sion)?

The track record in those other coun­tries and states is that the as­sisted dy­ing leg­is­la­tion has de­te­ri­o­rated into so­ci­ety’s ve­hi­cle for dis­pos­ing of un­wanted peo­ple, such as the de­pressed (sui­ci­dal), the dis­abled, the el­derly, the ad­dicted and the men­tally ill.

In De­cem­ber 2016, a Dutch sex abuse vic­tim in her 20s was al­lowed to choose euthana­sia.

You’re prob­a­bly aware that a sim­i­lar prin­ci­ple of ‘racial hy­giene’, which un­der­took not only to eu­thanase Aryan peo­ple with men­tal and phys­i­cal de­fects but also to ex­ter­mi­nate the Jews whole­sale, has been prac­tised be­fore by Nazi Ger­many un­der the lead­er­ship of Hein­rich Himm­ler (chief of the SS and the Gestapo).

I note with in­ter­est that you are of Nga­puhi de­scent on your mother’s side. Many of the young Nga­puhi men and women in North­land are ad­dicted to al­co­hol and metham­phetamine, with a trag­i­cally high rate of sui­cide.

If I am right in pre­dict­ing the mis­use of the po­ten­tial leg­is­la­tion to the ex­tent that those trou­bled and ad­dicted young peo­ple be­come some of the tar­gets, then you could be­come the pi­o­neer of leg­is­la­tion that re­sults in the in­sti­tu­tional mur­der of many of your own iwi.

I hope your con­science is ro­bust enough to bear that fu­ture bur­den.

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