'We're all gonna die': Senior citizens weigh in on euthanasia

Euthanasia is a subject with no definitive ethical consensus.

Despite two attempts to pass legislation to legalise euthanasia, the practice is still illegal in New Zealand.

But for many nations across the globe the right to decide when you die has been instantiated into law.  

Newshub spoke to advocates from New Zealand on both sides of the argument, before heading to Eden Village to ask the elderly how they feel.

We spoke to advocates from New Zealand on both sides of the argument…

Chris O'Brien is President of the Right to Life organisation

"Right to Life opposes the decriminalisation of both Euthanasia and Physician Assisted suicide for the following reasons:

"We believe that it is a watershed issue. Once decriminalised for any category of person then it becomes a right, in fact a human right. Human rights by their very nature are universal.

"So no matter what safeguards may be inherent in any legislation we can be sure that those safeguards will over time be breached.

"This is particularly obvious in the case of the The Netherlands where Euthanasia was decriminalised in 2002. The Dutch started with legislation that allowed Euthanasia only for those patients who were considered to be suffering unbearable pain and with no hope of cure.

"Since then an ever increasing number of conditions have been added allowing for persons who are eligible for euthanasia.

"Until we arrive at the situation today where the Parliament of that country is now seriously considering Euthanasia as an option for those who are not terminally ill, and in fact simply believe they have completed their lives.

"Here lies the danger. In far less than two decades look what they are proposing? Is this what we want for New Zealand? We we can be certain that regardless of all the good intentions in the world, euthanasia once decriminalised will become un-manageable.

"Right to Life believes that Euthanasia must never be decriminalized, there no exceptions. To do so would put at risk those who are vulnerable, especially the elderly, the disabled and those who have dementia or are mentally ill.

"There are no safeguards that can effectively protect the vulnerable from coercion and exploitation.

"We already have a significant elder abuse problem and the decriminalising of Euthanasia and allowing for Physician Assisted Suicide is going to make the elderly even more vulnerable, especially given our rapidly ageing population and rising health care costs.

"Two adages. Firstly; hard cases make bad laws. Secondly; the law is a powerful educator of the public conscience. If New Zealand goes down this path then what we are saying is that suicide is a solution to a problem.

"How can we, on one hand advocate for suicide prevention, while on the other, advocate suicide and euthanasia as a solution?  

"This is particularly troublesome given the very high rate of youth suicide in New Zealand.

"Doctors are healers not killers and the fact that the NZMA and other medical groups oppose euthanasia should be enough to put a stop to this proposal. 

"Right to Life believes that those who are pushing for Euthanasia are well resourced, well educated  and are people who are used to autonomy and being in control of their lives. They want to maintain that control right up to arranging their own deaths.

"We ask when does their 'right' to have a doctor kill them trump the right of the many thousands of vulnerable people whose lives will be increasingly at risk, if decriminalisation occurs?

"Right to Life believes that instead of proposing that doctors should be able to kill their patients, greater efforts should be being put into ensuring that our palliative care systems and delivery continues to be world class and to develop and be available to all."

David Barber represents the End of Life Choice organisation

"I have seen loved ones die in pain, with unbearable suffering and total loss of dignity, being reliant on carers to feed, wash, dress and toilet them.

"Waiting for a pain-racked death to end their suffering is I believe an intolerable situation no human should have to bear.

"Everyone should be able to end their lives painlessly and with dignity. We allow that for animals - why not humans?

"I would only stop campaigning for voluntary euthanasia  or end-of-life choice  if the law was changed to allow medical assistance to die for those who request it."

With all this in mind we decided to ask the elderly at Eden Village what they felt about the matter.

Watch the video.