Published: 2nd February 2016
- Petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others:
That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.
In response to the above petition, the Health Select Committee undertook an investigation under four headings: factors that contribute to the desire to end one's life; the effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives; the attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one's life and the current legal situation; international experiences.
In its submission to the Committee, under the first heading CMF suggests that existential factors, the fear of losing control and independence, the fear of becoming a burden to others or the state, mental illness (particularly depression) and the influence of the media in provoking suicide contagion, are at least as significant as the (often misplaced) fear of physical pain.
In response to the second area of investigation, CMF emphasizes the importance of expert and widely accessible palliative care services, and a culture of care that does not discriminate against the most vulnerable members of society. CMF also suggests that giving doctors the power deliberately to end the lives of their patients would inevitably redefine the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and risk undermining the trust and confidence essential to it.
Finally, investigating international experiences, CMF points to the incremental extension, in practice, of euthanasia or assisted suicide in jurisdictions where it is already legal, to include those who are not terminally-ill, including to those with chronic mental illness, severe dementia and even children under twelve. CMF commends the existing UK law that makes it illegal to encourage or assist suicide but allows for its compassionate and discretionary application in practice.
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 4,000 British doctor members in all branches of medicine. A registered charity, it is linked to about 65 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian doctors to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.