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Callous disregard for suffering

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Although my recent column was headed “The moral right to death assistance”, it was mostly devoted to exposing the speciousness of the arguments of Philip Creed; I said little about the Seymour bill. That said, to anyone who has read the Seymour bill, Deborah Scott’s statement (published January 12) that “there are no realistic safeguards in the bill” is self-evidently untrue.

Her own regard for accuracy was cast into doubt in her recent letter to the New Zealand Herald, in which she stated that “the New Zealand Medical Association has a clear policy against euthanasia, even at the patient’s request”. Perhaps she was unaware that, as Graham Adams has clearly shown, only 20 percent of registered doctors are members, whose opinions it hasn’t sought, and therefore cannot claim to represent.

Ms Scott’s reference to my dismissal of those on the other side as “religious zealots” motivated by “bigotry” can easily be shown to be false. It is a matter of history that the Catholic Church hierarchy — and I am speaking here of the “top brass” rather than local priests — has on many occasions behaved in a way that shows a total lack of compassion, or even regard for human life. Of the many examples, the following will suffice.

In 2012 Savita Halappanavar was a 31-year-old dentist in Ireland. In her 17th week of pregnancy she started to miscarry, but the process took several days. In the early stages it had become clear that miscarriage was inevitable and the foetus therefore doomed, and Halappanavar requested an abortion. This would have been allowed under the law if the mother’s life was in danger, but at this stage the medical team did not consider that her life was threatened. Her request was denied because, she was told, “this is a Catholic country”.

In fact the doctors........

© The Gisborne Herald