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The health select committee’s failure to make recommendations after its two-year inquiry into medically-assisted dying was cowardly and a wasted opportunity, Maryan Street, President of the End-of-Life Choice Society, said Thursday.
She compared its report, tabled on Wednesday, with an inquiry by a similar parliamentary committee in the Australian state of Victoria which made strong recommendations for an enlightened law change as well as improvements to palliative care.
The Victorian government has adopted the report and is proposing legislation with 68 separate safeguards to protect the elderly and vulnerable – a model the committee could well have followed, she said.
Maryan Street said the committee had closed its eyes to ample evidence of robust safeguards in medically assisted dying laws in 10 jurisdictions in Europe and North America with a population of more than 110 million.
She described the report as an essay on views for and against medically assisted dying and demeaning of people, some with terminal illnesses themselves, who had shared personal experiences of friends and family members dying badly.
Maryan Street said it was known that most of the 80% of submissions opposing a law change were form one-liners and did not reflect the views of three-quarters of New Zealanders shown in scientifically conducted opinion polls to want the ultimate human right of the 21st century – the right to die with dignity.
She said the committee’s job was not to count the evidence but to weigh it. In this it had failed miserably.
Maryan Street said that the only comfort was that all this work would not have to be done again by the next Health Select Committee when it deals with ACT leader David Seymour's private member’s bill in the next Parliament.
“Hopefully that committee will take this evidence as read and move to put in place a good piece of legislation.”
Contact: Maryan Street 021 977 555
Released by David Barber, EOLC media adviser 021 072 8760
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