Dear Miriyana Alexander,
This is not a Letter to the Editor, but a personal one regarding your comments on Lucretia Seales and the implications for future NZ Herald coverage of assisted dying and voluntary euthanasia.
As you know, the NZ Listener covered her plight over many editions and now the NZ Herald editorial team describe her cause as a “human right”.
In effect, the NZ Listener and the NZ Herald are nailing their colours to the mast and saying we support the NZ Voluntary Euthanasia Society and their aims. You may disagree, but that is how it looks.
It has to be a matter of concern when the dominant source of printed news is so partisan on what is a very divisive and complex issue. I’m sure that in future articles Phil Taylor may call a spokesperson in the Care Alliance or Voice for Life for a quote. But it will be just that and perceived as pre-empting complaints to the Press Council on lack of balance.
I am genuinely disappointed to see the NZ Herald abandon so readily any pretense to journalistic integrity, objectivity and commitment to presenting both sides.
On the 11th September, 2015, in the House of Commons, MPs voted 330 against, and 118 in favour of a bill to provide “assisted dying” for those with a terminal illness. The debate by all accounts was passionate, but civilized, with many MPs drawing on personal experiences with their families and loved ones and expressing concern for the vulnerable elderly and the disabled.
One pro-euthanasia spokesperson said that the cause in Parliament had been set back by 20 years and they would now seek social change through the courts.
Now, I don’t recall seeing any mention of this historic and important vote in the NZ Herald. If I missed it, I retract my comments.
One final point. Last year I was talking to a very experienced family lawyer who remarked to me: “You have no idea the sort of pressure we lawyers come under from families to help do something about their elderly father or mother in a rest home.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well they see Mum or Dad sitting in a rest home eating up their inheritance and they ask us to help them somehow put a stop to it.”
He was with a group of six other lawyers and they all smiled and nodded their agreement.
Dr David Richmond in Auckland is a retired consultant Professor of Geriatric Health who has been involved with many hundreds of deaths. He told me that very few patients request assisted suicide, invariably the requests come from their families.
Because of the documented extent of “Elder Abuse” in modern NZ society, he is actively opposed to legislating for assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. I don’t see him viewing it as a desirable human right.
National President of Voice for Life Inc