A justice issue
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.