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NZ MP and bishops speak out against assisted suicide

An MP and former geriatrician, a Catholic ethicist and Catholic bishops are among those speaking out against a New Zealand parliamentary bill for the legalisation of assisted suicide.

Kaikoura MP Dr Lynda Scott told NZ Catholic she was strongly against the bill. When she was in medicine, she said, she worked in geriatric care and did a lot of palliative care of people who were dying. "Prior to that I was a nurse and worked in aged care."

The director of the Nathaniel Centre (the Catholic bioethics centre), Fr Michael McCabe, said it was preparing a commentary on the bill and analysis of it for parishes and Catholic schools. The bill fitted into a secular agenda and a disturbing trend, Fr McCabe said. "It's that environment where that sort of thing can flourish."

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference said life is the most basic gift of a loving God - a gift over which we have stewardship but not absolute dominion. There is no moral obligation to use extraordinary means to keep a terminally ill person alive, the bishops said, but the Church's tradition clearly affirms that it is wrong to directly intend to cause one's own death, or the death of another by action or omission.

On March 6, MP Peter Brown's "Death with Dignity" private member's bill was drawn from the parliamentary ballot box. The bill is likely to have its first reading in Parliament tomorrow.

NZ Catholic

Proposed Euthanasia legislationc ontrary to human dignity (NZ Bishops' statement)
The Nathaniel Centre | Death with Dignity Bill (includes notes for parishes and schools)
Churches' Agency on Social Issues - Euthanasia: A Study Paper for the Churches
New Zealand Parliament | Peter Brown | Progress of bills

25 Mar 2003