David Seymour introduces End of Life Choice Bill

ACT leader David Seymour (Simon Wong/ 3 News)
ACT leader David Seymour (Simon Wong/ 3 News)

A Bill legalising assisted dying will be introduced into the Member's ballot by ACT leader David Seymour today.

Mr Seymour says the End of Life Choice Bill is a response to the growing call for euthanasia which has gained prominence since the high-profile case of lawyer Lecretia Seales who spent her dying moments fighting for the right.

It also coincides with a petition with 8975 signatures which will be presented to the Health select committee this morning.

Mr Seymour says his Bill will address the "anguish faced by a small but significant minority of people with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill, as they anticipate the prospect of intolerable suffering and the indignity of the final few days and weeks of their lives".

It will define who is eligible for assisted dying which sets out provisions to ensure the decision is made without coercion and a number of steps to make sure the person is mentally capable of understanding the consequences of euthanasia.

"It is evident from polls that a substantial majority of the public want Parliamentarians to consider assisted dying legislation," he says.

An independent poll of 2800 people Mr Seymour commissioned shows 66 percent of the public in favour of assisted dying, including 38 percent strongly in favour, while 20 percent were opposed.

He hoped MPs would support the Bill through its first reading should it be drawn from the ballot to allow the issue to be discussed in the select committee process.

But Family First believes the Bill is premature and should wait until the inquiry he supported was completed.

"Rather than a flawed euthanasia Bill which will contain the same pitfalls as Maryan Street's earlier proposed Bill, it makes absolute sense to debate euthanasia within the wider context of the premature ending of one's life," national director Bob McCoskrie says.

"Voluntary euthanasia has the allure of being an enlightened and compassionate response to the plight of the suffering, but its practical operation is fraught with risks and there are slippery slopes that are indeed very slippery."

Euthanasia-Free NZ believes the proposed legislation uses "vague language" which leaves it "open to wide interpretation".

Executive officer Renee Joubert says there are "no enforceable safeguards against coercion and abuse". 

Mr Seymour's Bill will go into a ballot with around 70 others where one or two are usually drawn ever second Wednesday Parliament sits.

However, he can ask Parliament to allow him to introduce the Bill and have it debated without it being picked from the ballot.

A person eligible for assisted dying would:

The legal process:

 

3 News / NZN

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