New Zealand coroner urges politicians to address euthanasia

by Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
Reposted from

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, October 15, 2013 ( – In a newly released report, a coroner in Wellington, New Zealand has urged politicians to address the issue of euthanasia.

The call by coroner Ian Smith comes after he investigated the death of Edna Gluyas, 85, who was found dead on her bed by her daughter on August 3, 2011. Gluyas’ death was brought about by the use of a home-made contraption which suffocated her.

It was initially thought Gluyas was aided in her death, as she suffered from arthritis and the contraption seemed awkward for her to use without help. However the inquiry found that she acted alone.

Smith noted that the “death could be described as a suicide or euthanasia,” although he preferred the term euthanasia as it was “the more appropriate description in this circumstance.”

He said her death “raises the vexed issue of euthanasia.“ “This process simply will not go away, and it will be necessary for Parliament to address this matter yet again,” he added.

Labour MP Maryan Street recently withdrew her End of Life Choice Bill from the ballot as it was feared that discussion of such an emotional topic during an election year would be a negative distraction.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday commented that although he supports voluntary euthanasia “under certain circumstances.” and would consider it if he were terminally ill, he thought it “hard to believe the Government would put it on the agenda any time soon.”

It is possible for another Member of Parliament to submit a private member’s bill on the issue.

Despite seemingly high approval of legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand, opposition does still exist.

Voice for Life’s national president, Bernard Moran, stated that Smith was “acting irresponsibly in failing to recognise the real dangers of lethal elder abuse.” Moran also noted that family lawyers have made it “clear that if assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia were ever legalised… elder abuse of the frail and vulnerable would soon become lethal.”

The national director of Family Life International NZ, Dame Colleen Bayer, explained that her organisation would “continue to educate society on the value and dignity of the human person, especially in moments of great suffering.” However, she also noted that education was not enough. “We must be there, offering a hand of friendship to those who are most vulnerable to euthanasia practices – the elderly, the sick and the disabled,” she said.

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