Category Archives: Voluntary Euthanasia

Voluntary exsanguination


There’s been a lot of heartbreak and hostility in recent years over the issue of voluntary euthanasia, which remains illegal in New Zealand—for now.

Euthanasia activism began in New Zealand in 1978 when some secular humanists formed the Auckland Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

In 1995 National Party MP Michael Laws sought to introduce his Death with Dignity Bill. The Bill failed, as did NZ First MP Peter Brown’s Death with Dignity Bill in 2003.

More recently, in 2012 Labour MP Maryan Street submitted her ‘End of Life Choice bill’ to the private members ballot. But then Voluntary euthanasia bill withdrawn. Street admitted at the time that “”the move was simply pragmatism, she said, and she “absolutely” planned to put it back in the ballot after the election.”” Unfortunately, due to Labour’s dire defeat at the polls in 2014, Street failed to re-enter Parliament. Moves by Iain Lees-Galloway to adopt Street’s bill were scotched by new Labour leader Andrew Little.

Last year in June, Parliament received the petition of Maryan Street and 8,974 others requesting

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.

The petition asks for a change to the existing law. The closing date for submissions is today, Monday 1 February 2016. You might have missed it.

In October last year, ACT leader David Seymour lodged a private members bill that would legalise voluntary euthanasia, the End of Life Choice Bill. Seymour’s bill may or may not get drawn from the ballot.

So that’s the state of dying in New Zealand. Our deaths remain natural, illegal, or self-inflicted. Or life goes on, sometimes in terminal pain.

Assisted suicide, or assisted dying as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand (Inc.) prefers to call it, is illegal in New Zealand.

Can people simply stop eating and drinking to hasten death?

Yes, stopping eating and drinking will hasten a death, eventually. This is the option many New Zealanders use now. However, it is less than optimal, can take days or weeks, and often requires palliative sedation to relieve negative symptoms of the fasting process.

But what if there’s a legal loophole, wider than a gaping arterial wound, that permits the possibility of a quick, painless, assisted and *legal* means of dying for the terminally ill whose ongoing existence does them more harm than good and who wish to end it all prematurely? I think there might be. Here’s why.

1. Giving blood is legal.

2. Taking blood is legal.

3. Refusing a blood transfusion is legal.


Assisted exsanguination is a legal means of voluntary euthanasia.

This simple means of dying with a little help from your friends and family is subject to some minimal legal constraints that must, of course, be observed.

The Human Tissue Act 2008 covers the legalities of taking blood. Read it and you’ll be displeased but not at all surprised to learn that blood is a “controlled human substance”. But you don’t have to be a “qualified person” to take blood, provided it is not “for therapeutic purposes or for health practitioner education or any kind of research” and the blood is not for sale or transfusion.

Libertarians uphold the right of the individual to his/her own life, liberty—and lifeblood.

Live and let live—and let blood.


Make them suffer


Blogger and voluntary euthanasia campaigner Mark Hubbard’s latest post is mercifully brief, just like a painful death from a terminal illness should be.

Letter to Editor: Euthanasia Does Not Devalue Lives of Disabled

According to Ken Joblin, Press 12 March, voluntary euthanasia quote, ‘makes people with disabilities feel less valued’. The arrogance of that remark is breath-taking: no person can judge another’s unhappiness. To say an individual must die in agony against their will because a total stranger might feel ‘devalued’ is non-sequitur, offensive and selfish; and this applies even if that stranger is living in similar circumstances of pain they yet find acceptable. The apt word in voluntary euthanasia is ‘voluntary’: it’s only for those who want that option, as many do. Every argument against voluntary euthanasia is the busy-body argument an individual must be left no volition over their own life. Adults self-manage health issues throughout their lives: managing one’s death is merely the end of that grown-up process. The disabled rightly tell the able-bodied to see issues from their point of view: well I’m afraid the opinion voluntary euthanasia devalues the life of a disabled person is as blind as Mr Joblin is partially sighted. No disrespect Mr Joblin, but please remove your opinion from those who have died or are dying in circumstances, sometimes appalling, against their wishes; just over last 12 months to put names to this issue: Rosie Mott, Faye Clark, lawyer Lecretia Searles – who still argues superbly for her right to that option as she manages life with brain tumours – Clare Richards and the list continues to grow, as long as we have no civilised euthanasia law.

Let’s be clear. It’s wrong to torture people to death. And

To say an individual must die in agony against their will

is to condone torturing people to death. And those who oppose assisted suicide in the sort of cases where it is typically requested are really no different from would-be torturers. It really is that simple.

Of course, you may say that I ride roughshod over the distinction between actively bringing something about and passively allowing something to happen. That I ignore the distinction between killing and merely letting die. That I fail to differentiate between causing suffering and allowing suffering simply by failing to prevent it when one could.

It’s an important distinction, to be sure. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, should we lump the priest and the Levite in with the robbers? Or, morally speaking, do they stand apart as somehow less deserving of our condemnation?

But no. The distinction here is between actively bringing something about and actively preventing those who would otherwise prevent something from happening from doing so. (Think of an embellished parable in which the Samaritan is impeded and threatened by bureaucrats when he goes to the aid of the man attacked by robbers.)

Current NZ law makes it a criminal offence to assist suicide under any circumstances.

Aiding and abetting suicide
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who—
(a) incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit suicide, if that person commits or attempts to commit suicide in consequence thereof; or
(b) aids or abets any person in the commission of suicide.

A prison term not exceeding 14 years? Bit harsh, just for complying with a loved one’s wishes to help hasten the end to their terminal suffering. (Could be worse though. Consider the case of Aldous Huxley. On his deathbed, he asked to be given LSD. His wife obligingly injected him with LSD. She could have faced life imprisonment for that!)

Make them suffer? Hell no! That’s just the name of the Cannibal Corpse song below, and the implicit maxim of sadists, psychopaths and assorted Parliamentarians. (Also clickbait.) If it’s not abundantly clear by now, I’m with Mark Hubbard on this one. In principle, I support legislative changes to legalise voluntary euthanasia. My lingering concern is with the form such legislative change might take. If the Psychoactive Substances Act is Parliament’s idea of drug law reform, then we could be in trouble. I don’t want my legal end-of-life choices limited to bureaucrat-approved modes of dying!

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (ESV)

See also the Parable of the Flood.

RIP Brittany Maynard



Jesus said they’ll know Christians by our love
Do not judge or you will be judged
Holier than though, have you never sinned?
The Bible says all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Jesus came for the sinners, not the righteous
All men are sinners
He ate with sinners and had compassion for them
God poured our his love and the sinners turned and followed Him

Holier than thou
Turning people off to God because of despisement in your voice
Holier than thou
Pharisees and Sadducees
Holier than thou
Show compassion for those who do not yet know Christ
Holier than thou
Love the sinner, hate the sin

If they were only shown the love of Jesus and not your despisement and condemnation

For God so loved the world
That he gave his one and only Son
That whoever believes in Him
Shall not perish but have everlasting life
For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world
but to save the world through Him

Satan loves it when you make a mockery of God’s love
Claiming to be a Christian but spitting venom and hate
The Bible says the world will hate Christians, because it rejects Christ
Not because we acted like a bunch of jerks
Turn your self-righteousness into humility
Accept others with their faults as God accepted you
Who made you a judge, holier than thou?
It makes me want to cry to see the harm you do

The sinner you see may have never before been shown love
Pain may be all they know, but Christ can heal their wounds
As ambassadors for Christ it’s our job to lead them to Him

They should know we are Christians by our love
The Bible says they’ll know we are Christians by our love!

Euthanasia (Part 4)

Logan's Run
My fellow bloggers have blogged their perspectives about euthanasia so it seems fair that I should too.

The term euthanasia covers several situations:-

1) Killing oneself.
2) Another person killing himself.
3) You helping someone kill himself.
4) You killing someone.
5) Another person helping someone else kill himself.
6) Another person killing someone.
7) The state helping someone kill himself.
8) The state killing someone.
9) The state punishing a person for helping someone else kill himself.
10) The state punishing a person for killing someone.

Each of these situations has different moral considerations which makes euthanasia a difficult topic for me to discuss. At the moment my interests for discussion are only the situations involving the state.

I’m pragmatically absolutely opposed to the state killing someone (8), mainly because the state is clumsy, filled with incompetent, arrogant people who think they know best and they are largely immune to accountability. Likewise, the state helping someone kill himself (7) is dangerous for the same reasons. If the state were to change in character I might reconsider these positions.

It is wrong for the state to punish a person for helping someone else kill himself (9). Killing someone who reasonably wants to die is victimless except in the situation where it was likely the dead person would have changed his mind (e.g. a recently paralised person).

It is wrong for the state to punish a person for killing someone (10) if it was reasonable and truly done out of mercy. It is not on a par with murder. If done according to the dead person’s wishes then there is no victim.

Laws that punish people should be justifiable with regard to the harm done to the victim.
No victim, no injustice, no justifiable punishment.

God’s gift to the terminally ill


A picture is worth a thousand words.

Here’s a Biblical argument for euthanasing the terminally ill.

The argument relies on a couple of reasonable assumptions which I now make explicit.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. …

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (KJV)

I assume that God gave us plants for all sorts of purposes, not just to eat. Creating the known universe, including our solar system, our planet and all life upon it including us was quite a feat. The account given in the Book of Genesis, of the origin of God’s green earth, is necessarily highly abbreviated. It cannot reasonably be argued that God did not intend us to use trees for building material as well as fruit, nor can it reasonably be argued that God did not intend us to use Cyperus papyrus to make the manuscripts that the Books of the Bible were originally written on, notwithstanding that these non-nutritional uses aren’t specifically mentioned in Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis.

I also assume that we can tell what a plant is for simply by looking at its actual uses. Take any plant. What’s it good for?

Now I’m fond of using Genesis 1:29 (“I have given you every herb bearing seed”) as an argument for legalising cannabis. The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party exists to legalise cannabis for recreational, spiritual, medicinal and industrial purposes. I think the ALCP’s cause is righteous. And I don’t think it’s eisegetical to suggest that God gave us cannabis for our recreational use among other things but I do acknowledge that it can reasonably be argued that getting high is not among the uses God intended for it. No matter, I don’t think principled exceptions disprove the general rule.

Sometimes I meet the objection, but what about deadly nightshade? Did God give that to us to eat too? But this objection just lends further credence to my view that God gave us plants for more than just food. So what about belladonna? Well, what’s deadly nightshade good for? It turns out that belladonna is a medicine and dispensable to a healthy diet.

Belladonna tinctures, decoctions, and powders, as well as alkaloid salt mixtures, are still produced for pharmaceutical use, and these are often standardised at 1037 parts hyoscyamine to 194 parts atropine and 65 parts scopolamine. The alkaloids are compounded with phenobarbital and/or kaolin and pectin for use in various functional gastrointestinal disorders. The tincture, used for identical purposes, remains in most pharmacopoeias, with a similar tincture of Datura stramonium having been in the US Pharmacopoeia at least until the late 1930s. The combination of belladonna and opium, in powder, tincture, or alkaloid form, is particularly useful by mouth or as a suppository for diarrhoea and some forms of visceral pain

Which brings us to the miracle plant that is the topic of this post, the opium poppy. Surely, God intended us to use this plant for the strongest of strong pain relief! Morphine is the predominant alkaloid found in the opium poppy, and in the 21st century it is still the analgesic of choice for pain management in the terminally ill.

Jesus himself is said to have been offered a drink containing opium (according to one interpretation) on the cross, but declined to accept.

They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. (KJV)

Now to the argument. Morphine is not just an analgesic. It is also a respiratory depressant. It slows breathing and, in sufficiently high doses, slows breathing to a stop. Its effects as a respiratory depressant are inseparable from its effects as an analgesic, both brought about by activation of the central nervous system’s μ-opioid receptors. Is it by design that these two remarkable effects of morphine are, as it were, yoked together? I suggest that it is.

I suggest that morphine’s design ensures that when a terminally ill patient is in severe pain, and the dose of morphine administered is increased appropriately, it also tends to kill the patient. That’s euthanasia by any other name.

The Sanctity of Life

It’s not wrong to kill people if the killing is justified (this is a necessarily true statement).

Killing people in war is justified, killing people in self defense is justified… even killing people that deserve death is justified. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life principle is not obsolete.

When considering euthanasia a killing can be justified by mercy – the principle being do to others as you would have them do to you. In a situation where a person wants to die and a person kills them compassionately the killer has not wronged anyone.

Some appeal to the Sanctity of Life to oppose euthanasia but if the Sanctity of Life doctrine were true it would condemn the other justified killings mentioned above.

A holy cow - as seen at a restaurant in Goa.
Holy cow! Seen at a restaurant in Goa.


The Sanctity of Life doctrine is false – it’s a sacred cow that needs killing.

Jumping up and down and running about in circles

There’s a common perception (well expressed by one of our regular contributors here and here, for example) that jumping up and down and running about in circles is all that libertarians (when they’re not asleep) ever do, especially at conferences. That the liberty lobby men are a lot like the wibbly wobbly men in Spike Milligan’s poem (which goes something like this).

The wibbly wobbly men
They don’t get up till ten
They run about and give a shout
Then back to bed again!

It’s a perception that has – or, rather, had – some veracity. But, finally, after 15 years of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time, the Libz have finally woken up to the fact that they need to try a different approach. Which just goes to show that even the bat-shit crazy Objectivists who form the backbone of the party aren’t totally insane.

I could say, “I told you so,” because I already did after the Libz electoral defeat of 2008. (That no one took heed of my advice at the time is one reason I hopped waka and joined the equally electorally unsuccessful ALCP). But I won’t, because the liberty movement in New Zealand is a band of brothers, not a band of backstabbers. 🙂 Instead, with heartfelt relief I say, “Thank God for that!”

All being well, the Libertarianz Party will soon morph into a second beast. A beast with a new name and a new logo to replace the old, dead brand. A beast with as many new people as old people. And a beast pushing new populist <gasp> policies to advance the old utopian principles.

What are the new populist policies? They will number (up to) five, and could include

  1. Cannabis legalised
  2. The 4:20 tax plan
  3. A Christchurch Enterprise Zone
  4. Voluntary euthanasia decriminalised
  5. A balanced budget

Others have been suggested (see here, for example). When the idea was first mooted, “legalising” gay marriage was near the top of the list. That’s how populist these policies are meant to be. Please feel free to suggest your own populist (but principled) policy candidates for the “tight five” in the comments.

Suicide Machine

Tony Nicklinson

Controlling their lives
Deciding when and how they will die
A victim of someone else’s choice
The ones who suffer have no voice

Manipulating destiny

When it comes to living, no one seems to care
But when it comes to wanting out
Those with power will be there

Prolong the pain
How long will it last?
Suicide machine
A request to die with dignity
Is that too much to ask?
Suicide machine

How easy it is to deny the pain
Of someone else’s suffering

Robbed of natural abilities
In death they now seek tranquility
In a confused state of mind
Extending agony, they must be blind

Manipulating destiny

When it comes to living, no one seems to care
But when it comes to wanting out
Those with power will be there

Prolong the pain
How long will it last?
Suicide machine
A request to die with dignity
Is that too much to ask?
Suicide machine

More Orr

In my post on Monday last week I featured Mark Hubbard’s letter to the editor of The Press re Ken Orr of Right to Life re voluntary euthanasia. This was Ken Orr’s reply.

In reply to Mark Hubbard, we don’t own our lives – they are a gift from God. We are the custodians of that gift. The foundation stone of a civilised society is the social contract that we have that requires us to respect and protect the lives of every member of the community from conception to natural death. Our laws should uphold that social contract. The taking of a life is a grave injustice. There is no human right recognised by any United Nations Convention that would permit doctors to kill their patients or assist their suicide. Parliament would be in dereliction of its duty to society by violating this social contract and legislating to allow for euthanasia. Advocates of euthanasia are asking the rest of society to accept the collective guilt for taking of life. Euthanasia would result, as in Holland, in many others being deprived of their lives without their consent.

Let’s take a closer look.

we don’t own our lives – they are a gift from God. We are the custodians of that gift.

I already fielded this one. Your custodianship of your life means that voluntary euthanasia is acceptable under some circumstances, viz., those circumstances under which it is desirable.

You don’t own your life. God does. Your life is God’s property and He’s entrusted it to you. You are His servant. … God gave me – not you, not anyone else, and most certainly not the state – custodianship of my life. So it is up to me what I do with it.

And here’s what Ken Orr has to say on his website.

Euthanasia is allowing doctors to kill their patients or to assist in their suicide. This is not a religious issue, as some might suggest

So why mention that our lives are a gift from God in the first place?

The foundation stone of a civilised society is the social contract that we have that requires us to respect and protect the lives of every member of the community from conception to natural death. Our laws should uphold that social contract.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that the foundation stone of a civilised society is the social contract, and assume that this social contract is worth more than the paper it isn’t written on. What’s in the contract? Not a requirement to respect and protect the lives of every member of the community, but a requirement to respect and protect the right to life of every member of the community. There’s a world of difference between a right to a thing, and the thing itself.

Advocates of euthanasia are asking the rest of society to accept the collective guilt for taking of life.

I can’t see how Orr came to this conclusion. Collective guilt? What about individual freedom and personal responsibility?!

On his Right To Life website Ken Orr quotes from a press release on euthanasia from the Inter Church Bioethics Council.

Ethically, there is a significant difference between actively/assisting in killing another person and withdrawing (or with-holding) treatment so that the person dies as a result of their illness.

In both situations the intent of the action is critical. In forms of euthanasia, the intent is to relieve suffering by killing. By contrast, when treatment is futile and is stopped or withheld, palliative care given by skilled professionals who address the pain and suffering caused by terminal illness, provides the best means to respond compassionately to terminal illness and suffering. The intention here is to address the many needs of the suffering person and their family, and to enable a dignified pain-free death. Another ethical consideration is that health care professionals are trained and trusted to promote health and well being and provide appropriate treatment for the living and dying. They are trusted not to cause death.

and also says

At the outset, we should define what is euthanasia. Euthanasia is allowing doctors to kill their patients or to assist in their suicide. … Euthanasia is not the withholding or withdrawing of treatment from a patient who is in a terminal condition when that treatment would be futile or burdensome. It is also not euthanasia for a doctor to administer medication for the purpose of pain relief to a patient when it may also have the effect of shortening the patient’s life; this constitutes good palliative care. The objective is to relieve pain and suffering, not shorten the life of the patient.

Dying and in pain and wishing you were gone? Ask your doctor “to enable a dignified pain-free death.” Insist on “good palliative care”!

Euthanasia by stealth.