At the end of this email I have three questions in light of your outspoken anti-euthanasia advocacy, given that your chairmanship of the New Zealand Medical Association allows you a disproportionate influence in this debate over those of us who demand our basic right to die with dignity, including the right to die in the arms of our loved ones, rather than as our spouses and families stand on the pavement outside, or somewhere equally incongruous, while we try and kill ourselves, alone, with a plastic bag over our head, or other equally barbaric method, our last vision after a lifetime of sights, sounds and loving, being the pattern of the wallpaper. That sentence was obviously written to achieve a certain confrontational effect: I hope you were confronted, as I am affronted. Albeit nothing in it was written to sensationalise, as the imagery I used is drawn from various reports of the desperate lengths some have felt they had to go to in their choice to escape whatever the pain or situation was they felt such desperate measures were necessary. For example, the case of Rosie Mott as described in the publication Auckland - quote:
As a further preamble, I understand some of your objections, however, regarding your comment from this Saturday's Press, quote:
Your stated philosophical position is that you are anti-euthanasia because it is against the Hippocratic oath, to which I would add 'as you interpret it', because this interpretation does not appear to be held by all medical professionals. That is, given, as evidenced by this article there are many hundreds of doctors in New Zealand who are prepared, albeit illegally, to help people die with dignity - and they are doing so secretly all the time - and thus as doctors don't see the provision of such mercy as constrained by their Hippocratic oath. And given the quotation from Christchurch Hospital specialist Professor Mike Ardagh, who has a PhD in bioethics, that "active voluntary euthanasia was at times the right thing to do". And finally given that in the countries and counties mentioned above where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, many thousands - at the least - of doctors who ascribe to the same Hippocratic oath feel very comfortable with supplying voluntary euthanasia, or drugs to assist suicide, those services governed by the necessary safeguards, I come to my first question to you which is this:
Do you subscribe to any form of religious belief, and religious practice, that influences your interpretation of the Hippocratic oath, and thus your anti-euthanasia views? Given the importance of your position in this debate as the mainstream media's first 'go-to', I think it important this is put on record.
My second query is regards to the logic involved. Namely, your anti-euthanasia belief, and euthanasia and assisted suicide remaining illegal, dooms every individual in New Zealand who would wish for voluntary euthanasia, to dying in circumstances they would not wish, some scenarios of which will be horrific. Yet for those (many) of us who believe in the right to die with dignity, we have no desire, whatsoever, to force such practice on those who don't want this; that is, it is obviously voluntary. So lack of a law such as the one Maryan Street proposes forces a portion of the population into dying in possibly dire circumstances against their wishes; while the presence of such humane law is on the basis only of complete voluntarism, meaning there is no harm to anyone, vis a vis, everyone gets to live, and die, as they wish to. Given this, how do you morally justify your stance, which arrogantly proscribes your beliefs on others whose lives, and deaths, are no business of yours?
Thirdly, neither in this article, or numerous interviews and pieces I have seen or read of you in, have I seen an indemnity to the effect you are merely giving your own opinion: you seem to be speaking for the The New Zealand Medical Association. Is that correct? Is the official stand of NZMA one of anti-euthanasia? From this, has any polling been conducted amongst the members of the Association regarding their beliefs on legalising euthanasia? If so what are those results? If no polling has been conducted, why not, given the importance of this issue to many New Zealanders, myself included?
I await your reply with interest, and you may have noticed, more than a tad miffed.