MPs look to UK in euthanasia debate

  • 14/09/2015
MPs look to UK in euthanasia debate

MPs considering a petition on euthanasia say they will look at a vote in the United Kingdom, which struck down a law allowing assisted suicide.

The House of Commons overwhelmingly voted against the Bill, and here in New Zealand the Right to Life group is urging a select committee to take notice. It says there's an international consensus against euthanasia.

"I believe it gives a strong message to our Parliament that when politicians have an opportunity of looking at all the research on this very contentious issue, they find that it's just too dangerous," says spokesperson Ken Orr.

"Public opinion of course is very important, but politicians also have an obligation to legislate for the common good. I think it's about 80-odd percent support among the public for euthanasia, so they comments have been quite brave."

The health select committee is looking at a petition presented after the death of campaigner Lecretia Seales.

ACT Party leader David Seymour is drafting a similar bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia in New Zealand.

"The majority of countries do not accept assisted dying," says health committee chair and National MP Simon O'Connor. "There's only a very limited number, but there are a lot of calls for this and each country has to look at it in its own right.

"I think the committee will be interested to see why the likes of Oregon and Belgium allow assisted suicide and why countries like England and Scotland and other places have rejected it."

Pro-euthanasia groups in England say MPs they are out of touch with what the public thinks.

California is the latest jurisdiction to vote in favour of assisted dying.

Mr Orr says the British vote shows there's international consensus against euthanasia.