Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

Assisted Suicide and euthanasia in New Zealand

New Zealand is facing ever-increasing pressure to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. Since 1995, there have been four bills sponsored by Members of Parliament. In addition, numerous court cases have tested the law in relation to assisted suicide. The most recent and high profile court case was that of Lecretia Seales.

Maryan Street, former Labour MP, presented a petition to Parliament in August 2015. This petition asked for an inquiry into ending one’s life in New Zealand. The Bill was withdrawn from the ballot in 2013 after fears it would be too controversial an issue to discuss in an election year.

Currently being debated is the End of Life Choice Bill, sponsored by David Seymour. Seymour is the sole Member of Parliament for the ACT party.

The Bill passed its first reading and went to select committee. The select committee received and consequently heard, submissions from more than 38,000 submissions. Many of those submissions were against the introduction of legislation.

The End of Life Choice Bill was read for the second time in Parliament on Wednesday 26 June, 2019. After twenty impassioned speeches from both those for and against the legislation, the Bill passed 70 to 51.

A Bill needs to pass three readings before becoming law.

The following resources are provided to assist you in defending the sanctity of life at its vulnerable stages using reasoned, factual information, supported by the timeless wisdom of the Church.

Definitions of Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and End of Life Care

Euphemisms are commonly employed by those who advocate for euthanasia and assisted suicide in order to appeal to the emotions. This has the effect of drawing people’s minds away from reasoned arguments. Euphemisms and language often employed by those who promote euthanasia and assisted suicide:

  • assisted dying
  • end of life choice
  • choice in dying
  • self-determination
  • values of autonomy
  • right to die
  • aid in dying

The following definitions are important for the person who wishes to discuss the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand clearly.

Euthanasia is the intentional killing by act or omission of a human being for his or her alleged benefit. The key word is intentional. Euthanasia can be voluntary or non-voluntary (no consent is given by the person killed).

Assisted Suicide is where a person assists an individual to take their own life by providing information, guidance, and/or the means for doing so. The person knows that the individual will act on the help given. When a doctor helps a patient to kill themselves it is referred to as Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS).

Euthanasia is not:

  • Turning off life support machines.
  • Refusing treatment that is overly burdensome or medically futile for the patient.
  • Administering drugs to ease suffering in a terminal illness, even if the secondary effect is to shorten life.

What is meant by ordinary and extraordinary means?

Ordinary means are procedures whereby hydration and nutrition (food and water), protection from elements (excessive heat and cold), rest, medicines, protection from exposure, treatments which offer a reasonable hope of medical benefit and recovery and which can be obtained and used without excessive pain or other inconvenience.

Extraordinary means are treatments which are gravely burdensome to the patient, and which cannot be obtained or used without excessive pain, or other inconvenience, or which if used would not offer a reasonable hope of recovery to the patient. Life support or chemotherapy are such treatments, where these do not offer hope of recovery.

End of Life Choice Bill

Since 1995, there have been several attempts through private members bills to legalise euthanasia and/or assisted suicide in New Zealand. The End of Life Choice Bill sponsored by David Seymour, the sole Minister of Parliament for the Act Party, is the first to be read in the House since 2003.


The following talks are on euthanasia, assisted suicide, suffering and hope. All presentations are from Family Life International’s conferences.

Scripture on euthanasia

Scripture has many themes that we can use to explain the dignity of the human person, the value of suffering and why euthanasia and assisted suicide are fundamentally wrong. The following verses are not exhaustive, but are helpful in orienting ourselves to God’s plan for human life.

Catholic Teaching on Euthanasia

The Catholic Church has always held inviolable the dignity and right to life of every human person from the moment of conception (fertilisation) through to natural death. Not only does the Church explain why the direct taking of a life is always evil, but for those who care to listen, she gives her wisdom and offers the opportunity to understand why suffering, sacrifice, and service to another human being are of value – not just in this life, but for the next.

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