Kylee Black, centre, with friends. Photo supplied
A mini-documentary launched today by #DefendNZ, a movement giving voice to New Zealanders opposed to all forms of euthanasia, features a young woman who lives with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, an incurable connective tissue disorder.
Kylee Black, 32, has had the genetic condition since childhood and now needs a wheelchair in order to move about, is concerned about the effect euthanasia legislation currently in Parliament – the End of Life Choice Bill — would have on her own life as well as the lives of others with terminal conditions or other forms of disability.
“I have difficult days and those days I don't need to be confronted with easily accessible death,” she told the New Zealand Herald. “If assisted suicide is legal it would be legal to promote it. I don't want to be triggered by assisted suicide ads or flyers.
Kylee is heavily reliant on other people and she acknowledges that her medications and several surgeries do not come cheap. “I have multiple specialists and go to hospital many times a year. I know my care costs a lot of money. But I also know I contribute to society.” Still, a law saying she could choose to end her life could make people in a similar situation feel they have to justify their share of health resources.
“New Zealand has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD, which occurs in conjunction with high rates of mental illness,” she told the Herald. “But while we are actively fighting against suicide, all of a sudden we seem to be saying, 'It's not okay to commit suicide – but you can end your life if you have a serious medical condition'.”
In the documentary – the first of a series by Henoch Kloosterboer, Creative Director for #DefendNZ – Kylee Black’s mother strongly supports her daughter’s opposition to the “Choice” bill. Their position is shared by Hon Dame Tariana Turia DNZM (former Minister for Disability Issues and Associate Minister of Health), Dr Huhana Hickey MNZM (Ngāti Tahinga, Tainui, Ngai Tai, who is a Crown Director and Consultant, Research Fellow and Disability Advocate), and Dr Conrad Engelbrecht (Fellow Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, Waikato District Health Board).
Update: Parliament's Justice Committee is due to publish its report by 9 April. MPs will likely vote on this Bill on Wednesday, 1 May.
Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet