Bill English votes no to euthanasia

  • 06/06/2015

Finance Minister Bill English says he'll vote against any legislation allowing euthanasia in New Zealand.

The death of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales from natural causes on Friday just hours after her family were advised the High Court had not ruled in her favour in an attempt to choose when she could die has prompted calls for law reform.

Prime Minister John Key said any moves by parliament on the issue would be a conscience vote and the best mechanism would be a private members' bill.

"In the past, I have personally voted for euthanasia, as I do have some sympathy for that argument," he said.

His deputy, Mr English, a Catholic, said today he would vote against any law change.

"The law says that if the doctor helps them die that would be breaking the law and that's what the judgment said pretty clearly," Mr English said on TVNZ's Q&A programme.

Mr English, whose wife is a GP, said he personally did not believe the law needed to change.

"My personal view is that the law is where it should be," he said.

CTU president Helen Kelly told the programme she was grateful for a period of good health while having chemotherapy for lung cancer.

She said she was upset about the court judgment in the Seales case.

"I think she was a very brave woman and she did a great thing by putting it on the front page," she said.

National MP Judith Collins said in the Sunday Star-Times that previous private members' bills on euthanasia had been full of holes and had opened the elderly up to abuse.

"Maybe it's time for parliament to revisit this with a bill that protects those doctors who carry out the well-considered wishes of their terminally ill patients," she said.

Justice David Collins said the complex legal, philosophical, moral and clinical issues raised by Ms Seales' proceedings could only be addressed by parliament passing legislation to amend the effect of the Crimes Act.


Head of Anglican Church reacts

Lecretia Seales' death raises vital issues that require engagement from everyone in society, says the head of the Anglican church in New Zealand.

The Wellington lawyer died from a brain tumour in the early hours of Friday morning - just hours after her family was advised the court had not ruled in her favour.

Ms Seales had been fighting for her right to choose when to die, but Justice David Collins found her doctor would risk facing charges if she helped her die.

Archbishop Philip Richardson acknowledged Ms Seales' "courageous determination" to bring focus to an issue that needed community-wide debate.

"As a church we are committed to engaging fully with the debate our society needs to have on this matter," he said in a statement.

"There are demanding questions of the deepest significance for our humanity, which require the engagement of all in our society. Whatever our views, part of Lecretia's legacy will be to refocus this public discussion."

He said it had also been a demanding situation for Justice Collins, who had been in his prayers.


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source: newshub archive