With skyrocketing daily cases of new Wuhan virus and deaths, it causes, Europe and some other parts of the world have been dipped in the discussion over the ending of lives.
New Zealand is expecting the results of the vote on Friday, although the question appeared on the general election ballot papers. Polling throughout 2020 has shown strong public support of between 60-70 per cent to legalise euthanasia. Astonishingly leaders of the major parties share views on this fundamental issue, both backing taking out lives.
The issue has been distorted in the mainstream debate in which killing was akin to freedom and preserving life as slavery. Media quoted, without any comment, opinions shaping the view on the life of the terminally ill as unfortunate.
Reporters usually emphasised the opinions of proponents of euthanasia, avoiding coverage of the other side of the debate. One of the headlines stated: New Zealand euthanasia vote: polls point to 'yes' amid a campaign of fear and doubt.
The disproportionate attention received the euthanasia campaigners whose views were not only published by the New Zealand newspapers but also by international news agencies.
One proponent was described as “anxiously waiting” for the approval of euthanasia. Like in the case of debate on abortion also euthanasia is defined as “free choice”.
“I am feeling anxious, I guess. I am really hopeful we will see a positive result the polls are certainly looking that way,” stated euthanasia campaigner Lecretia Seales, Matt Vickers, earlier this month. Choice is fundamental to who we are as human beings. When we don’t have choices we feel constrained, he commented.
Among those who opposed to euthanasia was Ms Vicki Walsh, who is now 53, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme in June 2011 who stated that people could be coerced into an early death. She was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer nicknamed "The Terminator" because those who have it typically die within 14 months of diagnosis.
But nine years later, Ms Walsh is still around, living near Palmerston North with her husband and two adult children. I was always told there was nothing more that could be done, she said. The coercion thing is one of biggest concerns for me about this bill. People say it wouldn't happen - well we already have an elderly abuse problem in this country, she warned.
The debate on euthanasia is taking place in the middle of the Wuhan virus pandemic, which prematurely ended the lives of more than 1 million people around the world.
The second wave of the pandemic hit with its full impetus resulting in countries seeing new records of daily cases in the European Union. On Tuesday, the Netherlands reported more than 7,000 new infections. The hospitals with overwhelmed ICUs are airlifting patients across the border to Germany, which may also take in Czech patients.
But a few days ago, the Netherlands, with the second most liberal laws on euthanasia in Europe, legislated euthanasia for children.
The country’s health minister, a leader of Christian party, Mr. Hugo de Jonge, said a change in regulations was necessary to help “a small group of terminally ill children who agonise with no hope, and unbearable suffering”.
The Dutch government stated it estimated that the new rules, lifting the threat of prosecution from doctors, would affect between five and 10 children per year who had no hope of improvement in their condition. For children euthanasia to be approved, there must be a circumstance of “unbearable and endless suffering”, agreement of two doctors, and parental consent.
Last year there were 6,361 cases of euthanasia in the country – just over 4 per cent of the country’s total deaths. Of those, 91 per cent were for terminal medical conditions.
But the mistake in the understanding of the value of human life is the main reason for people thinking that euthanasia is a solution.
In the commercial environment, we see everything through the prism of material value. We are getting angry if our milk-shake does not have enough sugar, and we are encouraged to live according to the principle of “getting our money’s worth", said Dr. Joseph Karlsruhe, a German retired Biblical scholar. Even churches do not correct this view since pastors are not able to understand it is a danger. But this view leads to potential catastrophic decisions like approval of euthanasia, he stated.
Dr. Karlsruhe explained that a person taught to assess the value by the money-worth prism often, without full realisation, expands into the areas which must not be valued by such a method. One of them is the life where the money-value replaces “efficiency”.
Our culture is not teaching the limits of efficiency test, Dr. Karlsruhe stated. Therefore life worth-living must be productive and efficient, and the life of a sick person is hardly being seen this way.
It is a real danger for our civilisation, which approaches the life of human persons and the life of animals with equal appreciation. The misbalanced view of nature is pushing the human person further down below in the name of rescue for nature, the Biblical scholar explained.
In such a world, there is almost no room for the terminally ill, let alone appreciation of his or her life. But the love of life can and needs to be encouraged, and the ability to do it is a moral test for every society.
If you'd asked me if I want to live like I am now, I would have viewed my life fifteen years ago as not having much of a quality of life now, Ms Walsh stated. I love my life, you know, I love my life, Ms Walsh emphasised.
In the European Union, Belgium became the first country to allow for voluntary child euthanasia in 2014 when it legislated to allow euthanasia in cases where the young patient was terminally ill and in great pain. Two Belgian children aged nine and eleven became the first to be euthanised in 2016 and 2017.