Elderly need to be cared for, not killed

The Nathaniel Centre – The New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre – is appalled at suggestions that legalising euthanasia could be a solution to the increasing number of suicides amongst elderly New Zealanders.

Director, John Kleinsman, says that people suffering from depression need extra care and support, not encouragement to die.

“The old and the sick can too easily be persuaded, often in subtle ways, that their lives are not worth living. If people are suffering depression, they need help with that – they need support, care and counselling not a license to kill themselves or be killed at the hands of others. If the elderly are increasingly subject to abuse in its various forms, including social isolation, then we need to look at positive and caring solutions,” says Mr Kleinsman.

“We must resist any moves that propose the death of the elderly, frail and other vulnerable people as a solution to individual or societal problems. The elderly need increased protection and care. Legalising euthanasia would send the opposite message.

It’s obvious, assisted suicide in any form will only increase the rates of suicide. Our mothers and fathers and grandparents deserve better than this – they need to know they are valued because of who they are instead of being encouraged to shuffle off.

How can we say that the mark of a humane society is whether we are prepared to kill the sick and elderly? The mark of a humane and compassionate society is whether we are prepared to care for those who need it.”

For further information see the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ recent statement ‘The Dangers of Euthanasia’.