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David Seymour narrows euthanasia bill to only cover patients with 6 months to live

01 Aug 2019 10:56 AM | Philip Patston (Administrator)

Source: Stuff

David Seymour has successfully narrowed his End of Life Choice Bill to only allow assisted dying for terminal patients.

ACT Party leader David Seymour has narrowed his euthanasia bill to only cover those with a terminal illness.

ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY/STUFF

This amendment, which Seymour himself disagrees with, is key to keeping the support of the Green Party and several other MPs for a third reading.

The bill is currently in the Committee of the Whole House Stage, where it could stay for weeks if not months being debated clause-by-clause, before finally going to a third reading debate - and possibly a referendum.

On Wednesday evening during its first committee session, part one of the bill was examined, which includes the definition of who is eligible to request assisted dying.

His amendment passed 74 to 44.


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The Labour MP said a family member had a terminal illness, and providing choice is incredibly empowering.

Seymour sought to narrow the bill during its 16-month select committee process but this was not possible as the committee had severe disagreements with how to deal with the bill.

ACT Party leader David Seymour has narrowed his euthanasia bill to only cover those with a terminal illness.

His amendment narrows the bill to only allow a person with "a terminal illness that is likely to end the person's life within six months" to request assisted dying, or euthanasia. The first version of the bill also allowed for a person with "a grievous and irremediable medical condition" to request assisted dying, leading to stern opposition from disability groups who said the bill would allow the disabled to be coerced into death.

Terminal illness is not the only criterion: the patient must also be capable of understanding the decision made and be in a state "of irreversible decline in capability".

Seymour's full suite of amendments - not all of which have passed yet - will set out many other elements of the bill, including the need for two doctors independent of each other to confirm the terminal diagnosis.

The bill passed second reading 70 votes to 50. It is a conscience issue for National and Labour MPs, meaning they are able to vote independently. Indeed, some of the most severe divides on the bill are within the National Party.

Several MPs spoke against the bill, including former speaker David Carter.

"I will oppose this legislation, and I'll oppose it for one significant reason: I cannot be assured that there won't be some elderly person who is coerced into accepting assisted dying," Carter said.

Seymour said there was not evidence of any undetectable coercion from around the world.

"When we look around the world we don't find evidence of it, and, second of all, I don't believe that it's a standard that people apply to other aspects of law. They certainly don't apply it to any of the other medical decisions that people make, and if they did the entire field of medicine would be unworkable."

He said the progress with the bill was very encouraging."The critical change other MPs have asked for has been made, and we've made very good progress.

"If we can pass a part of the bill every member's night then we will be done in September - October or thereabouts."

Green and NZ First MPs are all whipped into supporting the bill provided several amendments.

The Greens sought the narrowing, while NZ First will seek a referendum to be added into the bill.

That decision will not be made until the last stage of the Committee of the Whole House, likely some time away.


© End-Of-Life Choice • PO Box 321, Gisborne 4040 • Email: office@eolc.org.nz




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