by Care Alliance, 17 July 2017
#4 How many deaths per year from this bill?
- The Netherlands requirements concerning eligibility for euthanasia are very similar to those in David Seymour’s Bill. We would therefore expect that based on current Netherlands statistics, there would be around 1,200 deaths per year in NZ under this Bill.
- In the Netherlands (and 2016), Belgium and Oregon, the numbers of cases of euthanasia/assisted suicide have increased consistently since the practice was legalised. We should expect the same pattern to occur in New Zealand were we to legalise either of these practices.
- When a country legalises euthanasia and assisted suicide, the grounds for eligibility become broadened over time which further increases the number of deaths. In the Netherlands, for example, 87 per cent of deaths in 2004 were of people who had cancer. By 2016 that proportion had fallen to 68 per cent. The conditions that are on the increase include cardiovascular disease, disorders of the nervous system, lung disease, age-related illnesses, dementia and mental health conditions.
Conclusion: Current figures from the Netherlands indicate we can expect about 1,200 deaths per year in New Zealand from euthanasia and assisted suicide under David Seymour’s Bill.
Overseas experience indicates that arguments supporting euthanasia and assisted suicide are initially based on relief of suffering for a small number of ‘extreme’ cases. Once the practice becomes legal, however, the arguments have shifted toward ‘rights’ and ‘choice’ and the categories have broadened. This has meant that the numbers of deaths continue to rise significantly.