Part 2 is about freedom of conscience rights and each step of the proposed euthanasia process: from making a request to reporting the death.
As lawyers would know, it’s important to consider the possible loopholes in a piece of legislation: What would it do and allow, even if not explicitly stated?
Two Curia Market Research Polls conducted earlier this year found that the majority of respondents are opposed to circumstances the Bill’s proposed process would allow. None of these concerns are addressed by David Seymour’s proposed amendments. Their concerns are noteworthy especially since the majority of the 1,048 respondents are in favour of the concept of euthanasia.
The Bill would allow an eligible terminally ill person to request euthanasia:
1) without telling loved ones (opposed by 73%);
2) instead of treatment (opposed by 60%);
3) because they feel like a burden (opposed by 64%); and
4) because they feel depressed or that life is meaningless (opposed by 55%).
There’s a distinction between eligibility criteria and reasons for requesting euthanasia.
“In its current form the Bill would not require a doctor to explore or consider the underlying reasons why an eligible person wants to die,” says Renée Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.
“The unbearable suffering a person experiences may not be caused by their medical condition. Instead the person may be suffering due to issues such as poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, loneliness, mental illness, depression, grief, bereavement or concern about being a burden.”
Part 2 is by far the most substantial part of the Bill, consisting of 17 clauses and almost 11 pages. In contrast, Part 1, which was debated on 31 July, consists of only 5 sections and almost 4 pages.
“We were shocked that the debate on Part 1 was cut short when some MPs still wished to speak and several proposed amendments had not even been mentioned, let alone debated,” says Ms Joubert. “And that, after many MPs stated that they voted for the Bill at second reading in order for the House to have an extensive discussion.
“Since Part 2 is about the crux of the Bill, we hope that its details, as well as each of the proposed amendments, will receive discussion and unprejudiced scrutiny.
“Our members and supporters will be watching tomorrow’s debate with interest.”