Glynn Cardy, Minister at the Community of St Luke
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand :: Remuera – Newmarket
Physician Assisted Dying
The debate about physician assisted dying has been given added impetus with the recent trial in the High Court regarding Lecretia Seales. Those who are seeking a change in the law wish that no prosecution would follow if a terminally ill person had reached a clear, voluntary, settled, and informed decision to end their life and the assisting physician was motivated wholly by compassion.
There are a number of Christian denominations[i] that support passive euthanasia, namely the withdrawal or withholding of medical treatment for the terminally ill when warranted. Passive euthanasia is legal in New Zealand. Active and passive euthanasia though in a hospital setting are sometimes not as easily separated in practice as it is in theory.
While Christian leadership is generally opposed to physician assisted dying there are some important exceptions. These include the renowned Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung, the former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu,[ii] and the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. A UK poll (2015) showed 62% of religious adherents supported physician assisted dying.