Euthanasia-Free NZ is encouraged that the second reading on the End of Life Choice Bill passed by a significantly smaller margin (70 – 50) than the First Reading did in 2017 (76 – 44).
Several MPs who have voted for the Bill this time expressed significant concerns about the Bill’s eligibility criteria and lack of adequate safeguards, such as protection against the risk of coercion.
“We are doubtful that the Bill can be made safe to protect against the risk of pressure from individuals and society,” says Renée Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.
The End of Life Choice Bill would change the way New Zealand society thinks about caring for vulnerable people. Currently our society accepts it as a given that an elderly, ill or disabled person would be cared for until their natural death. By making an assisted death a legal option, it would make staying alive and being cared for optional too.
As a result a person may feel that they need to justify to themselves and others why they are still alive if death would be cheaper and more convenient for their loved ones. They may feel that they are a burden to society and have the duty to at least consider requesting an earlier death.
While feeling like a burden is unlikely to be part of the final eligibility criteria, it may be one of the underlying reasons why a person desires to die.
According to the latest official report from Oregon, 54% of people who received assisted suicide drugs cited concern about being a burden as one of their reasons for requesting it.
We encourage MPs to examine the facts and evidence from overseas jurisdictions with open minds as they debate the details of this Bill at the Committee of the House stage.