Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan has encouraged his flock to voice their opposition to Act Party leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill.

In a pastoral letter dated July 13 published on the diocese’s website, Bishop Drennan listed his observations against the bill which he described as “unkiwi, unethical, and unprogressive”.

“Please let your voice be heard, and indicate to your MP your opposition to this backward bill,” he stated.

Bishop Drennan said the law should protect, teach and uphold citizens’ rights, but Mr Seymour’s bill “undermines and threatens the citizens of our country”. “Euthanasia and assisted suicide are unnecessary and destructive.

Palliative care is well able to control pain and alleviate suffering in an ethical and transparent way,” he said.

He expressed concern that “euthanasia and assisted suicide would divide families, put psychological pressure on the elderly and the disabled, and would undermine the relationship between health professionals and patients”.

Bishop Drennan also pointed out the country’s youth suicide rates are already a “disgrace and cause for shame”.

“How could we contemplate introducing a further category of suicide?” He said Maori, Pasifika, Filipino and Christian Indians as well as many Pakeha are overwhelmingly against assisted suicide.

He noted that 78 per cent of 21,277 submissions to the Health Select Committee were overwhelmingly against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“David Seymour is one politician who belongs to one political party that has less than one per cent support in New Zealand,” he said.

Meantime, Prime Minister Bill  English said he does not think there is any way adequate safeguards can be included in any bill that permits euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“People will try with the best of intent to construct safeguards,” he said. “I don’t think you can make them adequate.”

The Prime Minister gave these statements at the 2017 Forum on the Family held at the Life Centre in Manukau on July 7.

He said there are two reasons he is opposed to the bill. The first is to protect the vulnerable.

The second, he said, is the value of life.

“The idea that the value of my life is all about my choice . . . actually, I found that in life, part of your role as a friend or a member of the family is to remind the person how you value their life,” he said.

“It’s not only about how they feel. It’s also how the rest of us feel,” the Prime Minister said.

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