Voluntary assisted dying: a one-sided view
Caralise Trayes has responded to my opinion piece (July 18) and takes issue with many of the points I raised.
Before refuting as many of her arguments as space allows, I must begin with an apology for a couple of errors I made in the penultimate paragraph of my original column.
Caralise's husband William is no longer on the staff at Kingsway school, a Christian school at which he had been “Head of Learning at Primary”, and Caralise and her husband do not run the crèche at Ignite Faith Church, as I mistakenly stated. Though I regret these errors, they have no bearing on my overall argument.
Now to Caralise's response or, in certain respects, lack thereof.
First, information gleaned via Google does not constitute details of her “private life”. And she says that these details have “nothing to do with my book”. On the contrary, her Pentacostal commitment has everything to do with it. Why else should she be so coy in not revealing information which, in the eyes of many, would reveal her to be anything but an honest broker?
Next, Caralise says: “I hope Martin's position as an End of Life Choice Society member and campaigner hasn't affected his ability to see these facts.”
This inversion of reality smacks of desperation. To suggest that EOLC helped form my views on voluntary assisted dying is the precise opposite of the truth. My views on voluntary assisted dying (VAD) were what motivated me to join the EOLC society, rather than the other way round.
And: “Some facts such as while 13 jurisdictions internally have legalised assisted dying, more than 30 have rejected it.” This is not an argument against VAD, but simply illustrates the fact that we are in the early stages of achieving the final human right; autonomy over one's death. There is often opposition to fundamental social change; at the turn of the last century, the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions rejected women's suffrage. I have no doubt that the right to die will be regarded as just as fundamental as equality for women is today. No doubt some bigoted Victorians saw votes for women as the beginning of a “slippery slope”. No doubt some said “they'll be bringing in equal pay next!”
Caralise appears to minimise coverage of the suffering of the terminally ill. Why, for example, did she recommend the book “Dying Well” but had nothing to say about the counterbalancing “Dying Badly”, which describes the suffering of terminally ill New Zealanders — the very people the VAD law is intended to help?
And why did she have a chapter on Lecretia Seales without interviewing or at least consulting anyone from her family? Lecretia's mother believes Caralise has misrepresented her daughter's death and minimised her pain and suffering. Had she subtitled her book: “Why you should vote NO to the End of Life Choice Act”, no one could have objected to it.
Caralise is entirely entitled to her beliefs, but in journalism, potential conflicts of interest are routinely disclosed to the readership. As the NZ Press Council states: “Where an author's link to a subject is deemed to be justified, the relationship of author to subject should be declared.”
The sole reviewer on Amazon Australia concluded a one-star review with the following remark: “Ethical journalists declare conflicts of interest. If you're already in the ‘opposed to assisted dying' choir and want to be preached at, by all means read this. If you're looking for ethical or objective journalism, steer clear.”
■ Martin Hanson is a former science teacher who lives in Nelson.