Euthanasia not black and white

By Laurie Hilsgen

I support the disability movement’s concerns about legalising euthanasia and what this means for people who have high support needs, and the elderly, and the chronically ill.

On the surface of it, having the choice to die is empowering.

But I have had personal experience of the moral weight of assisting with life and death decisions, and it’s not as straightforward as some make out.

We are living longer than past generations with higher levels of support need … and the costs can be high to keep someone alive.

Interpreting modern care trends like the Liverpool Pathway (To Death) is fraught with ethical dangers. Dangers that can hasten a person’s impending death for reasons of money and convenience rather than because it is the kind thing to do.

At a time when New Zealand can celebrate its leadership role in achieving the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we have to ensure that euthanasia debate and any resulting legislation improves the human rights of those who wish to make the choice to die … without eroding the human rights of others.

Let’s make sure we do the right thing.

Laurie is the CEO of Carers NZ and the editor of Family Care magazine.