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Coroner's request 'reprehensible and deadly threat'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Ken Orr, Spokesperson, Right to Life

Right to Life believes that it was reprehensible and a deadly threat to the common good for the Wellington coroner Ian Smith to request that Parliament again consider legislation to allow for euthanasia. That is to allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide. It is concerning that a Coroner should be advocating a culture of death with the murder of the vulnerable.

This request followed an inquest into the suicide of a Mrs Gluyas an 85 year old women who committed suicide in Wellington in August 2011. She lived alone and suffered from arthritis. Her tragic death highlights the loneliness of many elderly people.

The role of the Coroner is to establish when, where, how and why a death happened, and also to work out whether anything can be done differently that might prevent similar deaths in the future. If so, they make recommendations. A coroner speaks for the dead to protect the living.

A coroner has a statutory duty to ensure that the deceased is not a victim of a crime.

While suicides are investigated independently by individual coroners, the Chief Coroner maintains an overview of the issue and his office collects information that might help suicide prevention efforts and initiatives undertaken by other agencies. There are over 500 suicides each year in New Zealand,which is a concern to the Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean.

The Coroner Ian Smith has made a judgment that the life of Mrs Gluyas was a life not worth living and that it was acceptable for her to be assisted in killing herself. The Coroner should have made recommendations in his report that would help the elderly to avoid resorting to suicide, which is self murder. He did not do this and instead recommended that Parliament should legalise the killing of the vulnerable in our community who may be suffering from loneliness and depression. Legislation providing for euthanasia would result in many vulnerable people being killed without their consent or knowledge. The right to die would soon become a duty to die.

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