By Vatican News
The August edition of the “Nathaniel Report” by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Nathaniel Centre for bioethics, has been made available online so as to comply with Covid-19 prevention measures. This month, the report focuses on scrutiny of the euthanasia and cannabis referendums being held at the same time as the 17 October general election. It also takes a look at youth suicides and the moral issues raised by using a cell line from an aborted fetus to create a Covid-19 vaccine.
End of life choice act 2019
In one article, Dangerous and Unwise, Nathaniel Centre director John Kleinsman describes flaws in the End of Life Choice Act 2019, a referendum set to take place on assisted death (assisted suicide and euthanasia). John Kleinsman writes that this question:
"is no longer about the merits or the idea of assisted suicide and euthanasia – i.e. whether a case can be made for these practices. Rather, we have to decide, as a country, if we want a particular piece of law called the End of Life Choice Act 2019 (EOLC Act); a law that, if passed, cannot be changed or ‘fixed’; a law that, in its current state, is regarded by many lawyers, healthcare professionals and others as poorly drafted, dangerous and flawed".
John Kleinsman highlights numerous problems in the Act, including describing how easily accessible euthanasia and assisted suicide would be for all.
Legalising recreational cannabis
A second referendum coming up in New Zealand is on the legalisation of recreational cannabis.
"Up to 2019, the law treated cannabis as a criminal issue. However, in 2019 the Misuse of Drugs Act was amended so that possession offences could be treated as health issues instead of criminal, except where there is a clear public good to be gained from prosecution. Thus, while cannabis remains illegal, the police can use discretion in deciding how to respond to those who use, grow and/or supply it; whether to charge a person or steer them towards a health-based intervention. In reality, we have a form of ‘de-facto’ decriminalisation".
The article goes on to explain the current and past legal stances on possession of cannabis, as well as providing arguments as to why cannabis should not be legalised - taking into consideration legal, medical and racial factors.
Readers are offered resources to help them with both referendums, providing background information, key issues and information to consider when deciding how to vote.