Hopes euthanasia petition will prompt action

  • 21/06/2015

Former Labour MP Maryan Street is confident if a vote were held in Parliament today, doctor-assisted suicide would be made legal.

Tomorrow the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, of which Ms Street is a member, will present a petition to Parliament with 8975 signatures backing legalised euthanasia.

Before losing her place in Parliament last year, Ms Street was behind the End of Life Choice Bill. It was taken up by Iain Lees-Galloway following the election, but was soon dropped from the ballot at the request of newly elected leader Andrew Little.

Ms Street says in the wake of the Lecretia Seales case, now is the time for Parliament to make a call.

"I think what Lecretia Seales and [husband] Matt Vickers did was absolutely extraordinary, and really pushed the legal boundaries," Ms Street said on TV3's Paul Henry programme this morning.

"The judge was right - he couldn't overreach Parliament, so it's kicked back to Parliament and that's the place that should decide in law how this issue is addressed."

Two previous Bills that would have legalised euthanasia failed in Parliament. In 1995 the Death with Dignity Bill lost 61-29, but a second similarly named Bill almost made it, losing 59-58 in 2003.

"If you have a look and see how the votes went on the previous two occasions, the gap between the ayes and the noes narrowed hugely," says Ms Street.

"We are now 13 years on from the last vote and people have started to have the conversations that are necessary to understand what the issues are."

Though she's confident a conscience vote would see it pass, there remains the problem that no party seems willing to take the lead.

"I believe there are more MPs in Parliament right now who would vote for it than against it. It's just a matter of getting it onto the order paper… I remain a little bit puzzled as to why MPs won't pick it up."

Mr Little asked Mr Galloway to drop his because he wanted the party to focus on other issues. ACT leader David Seymour is currently drafting a new private member's Bill.

Ms Street hopes tomorrow's presentation of the petition will prompt the Government to look into the issue through a health select committee.

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source: newshub archive