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Press Release: End of Life Choice Society
August 13 2018
Biased MP should resign as deputy chair of select committee, says doctor
A prominent campaigner for assisted dying said Monday MP Maggie Barry should resign as deputy chair of the parliamentary committee considering the issue because she is blatantly biased and discourteous to submitters.
“She has been bringing the process into disrepute,” Dr Jack Havill, past president of the End-of-Life Choice Society, told members of the Justice Select Committee at a hearing in Hamilton.
A retired intensive care specialist, he was making an oral submission on ACT leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill, which would allow mentally competent New Zealand adults aged 18 and over with a terminal illness likely to end their life within six months, or suffering an irremediable and grievous medical condition, to ask a doctor to help end their life.
All eight members of the original committee voted for the bill when it passed its first reading in December but the National Party replaced two of its members with Barry and Nick Smith, who both voted No.
The committee received a record 35,000 written submissions on the bill. It has split into teams of two to tour the country to hear the 3500 submitters who asked to appear before the committee in person to make their arguments.
Barry is the committee’s deputy chair and Dr Havill said he had spoken to many New Zealanders who could not understand why she “should show her bias so publicly, and indeed, spend much of her time campaigning at public meetings against medical aid in dying.
“This seems to the average member of the public as totally unfair, especially as she has also been disparaging to submitters while giving their oral submission.
“I do not maintain that she should not have opinions against the Bill, but the public expects her to act impartially in her role as Deputy Chair, and to consider evidence which supports medical aid in dying (MAID) in a reasonable manner. She has been bringing the process into disrepute.
“Our opinion is that she should resign from the position as Deputy Chair because she is heavily compromised.”
Dr Havill said later that he had also written to the Minister of Justice Andrew Little and the leader of the National Party Simon Bridges to complain about Barry’s behaviour in the committee hearings.
He quoted one submitter as saying the MP had got up during her five-minute presentation to make herself a drink and was ”quite demeaning” with her questioning.
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