More than 1,000 New Zealand doctors have signed an open letter opposing proposals to legalise euthanasia.
In their letter, they urged politicians to let them focus on saving lives and providing palliative care, rather than taking lives.
The Bill will legalise euthanasia for adults assumed to have less than six months to live, or those with a medical condition believed to be “grievous and irremediable”
The doctors said: “We endorse the views of the World Medical Association and the New Zealand Medical Association that physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are unethical, even if they were made legal.
“We are committed to the concept of death with dignity and comfort, including the provision of effective pain relief and excellence in palliative care.”
But, they added: “We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to die would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship which is based on trust and respect.
“We are especially concerned with protecting vulnerable people who can feel they have become a burden to others, and we are committed to supporting those who find their own life situations a heavy burden.”
Vulnerable at risk
David Seymour MP, who authored the Bill, dismissed the doctors’ letter, but other New Zealand MPs raised concerns.
Nick Smith MP said the Bill was “out of step with a core part of our Kiwi culture – that respect for human life”.
David Clark MP, said passing legislation would make “it easier for vulnerable people to feel that the most appropriate option is to take their own life”.