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NZ Bishops add voice to euthanasia opposition

Posted on: February 2, 2016 9:31 AM
The New Zealand Parliament is consulting on a new law to permit what the country's churches have dubbed "physician-assisted suicide"
Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Midnighttonight

[AnglicanTaonga] Nine New Zealand bishops have made a submission to the country’s Parliament urging no change to the law where the “right to die” is concerned.

In their written submission the bishops say they believe “that legalising medically-assisted dying will open the gateway to many foreseen and unforeseen consequences which will be damaging to individuals and the social fabric.”

The bishops, who include seven serving and two retired members, say they recognise “the great distress of patients, families and friends in the case of some intractable and prolonged terminal illnesses”.

They “recommend that resources to enhance palliative care and counselling support for both patients and their whanau be increased.”

Public submissions for the parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia – which has flowed from a petition organised by the former MP Maryan Street – closed yesterday [Monday].

The bishops – who include Archbishop Philip Richardson; Bishops Ross Bay (Auckland); Helen-Ann Hartley (Waikato); Andrew Hedge (Waiapu); Justin Duckworth (Wellington); Muru Walters (Upoko o te Ika) and Richard Ellena (Nelson), as well as retired bishops Bruce Gilberd and Richard Randerson – have asked to make oral submissions to the inquiry, which will be heard by the Parliamentary Health Select Committee.

The Bishops’ intervention follows that of the ecumenical InterChurch Bioethics Council, which also opposed the move.

  • The bishops’ submission can be read here.

  • The submission by the InterChurch Bioethics Council - an ecumenical panel of scientists and ethicists – can be read here.