Legalising Euthanasia will have deadly effects: Expert

Legalising Euthanasia will have deadly effects: Expert


And Sir Bill English says New Zealand should not risk such a law

Venkat Raman

New Zealand will be wrong to choose Euthanasia since its long-term effects would be deadly, says an international expert.

Dr Leonie Herx, Head of Palliative Medicine at Queen’s University, Canada said that while death is a natural process, it should not be induced through medical or any other assistance.

“New Zealanders are currently debating whether ‘End of Life Choice Bill’ should be implemented, in effect legalising euthanasia. Experience in Canada and other countries has shown that Palliative Medicine is more effective. Palliative care seeks to identify and alleviate suffering across the trajectory of a life-threatening illness, including care at the end of life, and supports living well while dying,” she told Indian Newslink.

Dr Herx was in New Zealand to participate in a series of meetings and debates, bringing to the people her expertise and the experience of Canada on this issue.

The Proposed Legislation

The New Zealand Parliament is currently considering the ‘End of Life Choice Bill’ of ACT Party Leader David Seymour. Having passed its First Reading and the public consultation stage, the Justice Select Committee of Parliament was considering it on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

This Bill gives people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying.

It allows people who so choose, and are eligible under this Bill, to end their lives in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.

The Bill defines those eligible for assisted dying, details a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure this is a free choice, made without coercion, and outlines a stringent series of steps to ensure the person is mentally capable of understanding the nature and consequences of assisted dying.

Earlier proposals

The New Zealand Parliament has debated earlier similar legislative proposals.

In 1995, the ‘Death with Dignity Bill’ of Michael Lewis was defeated 61/29 at First Reading.

It was defeated again in 2003 (60/58) when Peter Brown moved the House with his version.

Since then, evidence and developments have established that there are serious problems with the current state of the law in New Zealand that will be ongoing without a legislative solution.

The Canadian experience

In 2016, the Canadian Parliament passed ‘Bill C-14,’ amending the country’s Criminal Code and legalised physician-administered euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The legislation excludes minors, people with mental illness, long-term disability and any curable condition. It also excludes foreigners and those not covered by Canadian insurance.

Dr Herx said that there have been 8000 cases of medically-assisted deaths since 2016, with 4200 such deaths recorded in 2018, up from 2700 in 2017.

Gene in the bottle

Mr English said that Mr Seymour’s proposal will ‘let the gene out of the bottle’ and create a wide range of unmanageable legal issues.

“Killing someone is a crime. We have seen that safeguards have not worked in countries which have made euthanasia legal. Young people with suicidal tendencies could not be saved because of the law; they could take their lives without their parents even knowing about it. Once released, it would be very difficult to put the gene back into the bottle,” Mr English said.

Care Alliance Report

A Care Alliance Report released on Friday (March 30) (end-of-life-choice-bill-has-few-takers-says-report) said that more than 90% of record number of submissions oppose End of Life Choice Bill.

Seymour does not agree

Mr Seymour disagreed, saying that a Chart taken from the Young Study shows the vast difference between support running consistently at around 70%, opposition at 20%, and undecideds at around 10% in 17 polls taken since 2002.

“These polls were taken by reputable firms such as Colmar Brunton and Reid Research, which most recently found 75% and 71% support, respectively. The Care Alliance have done a lot of work, but appear to have misconceived the purpose of Select Committee submissions as a form of de facto referendum when the real purpose is to provide evidence to parliament to improve legislation,” he said.

The above is an edited version. For full text, please visit


  1. Bill English with Dr Leonie Herx in Auckland on April 1, 2019 (INL Picture)
  2. ACT Leader David Seymour (Photo Supplied)

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