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How to detect the underlying religious motive?

Opinion Piece

Religiously motivated campaigners against the End of Life Choice Bill rarely mention God; in a secular society, the G-word has little or no currency. So how can the reader of an opinion column in a newspaper or magazine detect an underlying religious motive in the writer?

One of the most obvious signs is a tendency for campaigners to see what they want to see in statements made by others. After the suicide of Edna Gluyas, an 85-year-old lady who lived alone in Wellington and suffered from arthritis, the coroner had this to say on page 4 of his certificate of findings:

“This tragic death could be described as a suicide or euthanasia, the latter being the more appropriate description in this circumstance. Once again this death raises the vexed issue of euthanasia and, as I have recorded in past cases, this process simply will not go away and it will be necessary for Parliament to address this matter yet again.”

But in a press release on October 17, 2013 here’s what Ken Orr had to say (emphasis added):

“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 of great concern that a coroner should be advocating a culture of death with the murder of the vulnerable.”

He further commented that:

“The coroner 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’.”

It would be hard to imagine a greater distortion of what the coroner actually said. Mrs Gluyas was the only person who was qualified to feel that her life was not worth living, and the coroner certainly made no comment to this effect.

I’m not saying that Mr Orr was hearing voices, but if he did read the coroner’s report, he was clearly seeing what wasn’t there.

Martin Hanson, Nelson