History of the Legislation
Maryan Street was the next MP to tackle this issue and promoted her End of Life Choice Bill, but was forced to withdraw her Bill in advance of the general election in 2014. However, she got the ball rolling once more with her successful petition on medically-assisted dying in 2016. The tide was turning.
June 2015 saw the tragic death of lawyer Lecretia Seales, the same day that her case for medically assisted dying was turned down. Lecretia had filed a claim with the High Court arguing that her GP should not be prosecuted under the Crimes Act (1961) in assisting her in her death with her consent, and that under the Bill of Rights Act (1962) she had the right to not be subjected to the unnecessary suffering of a long, cruel death.
Finally, MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill was drawn from the members’ bills ballot on 8 June 2017. The Bill passed its first reading in parliament on 13 December 2017 (76 to 44 votes), and was referred to the Justice Select Committee.
After a year of hearings, the Select Committee reported back to parliament on 9 April 2019.
It was then debated by the Committee of the Whole House between August and October 2019, during which time a large number of amendments were made, the most significant being:
The Act was, however, subject to a binding public referendum, which was held at the same time as the 2020 General Election. The final results, 65.1% in favour, were declared on 6 November 2020. This means that the EOLC Act 2019 will come into force on 6 November 2021.