Isaac Davison: Legal euthanasia not a done deal

By June 9, 2017 Recent News

NZ Herald 9 June 2017
Family First Comment: Well said Isaac. We can live without it.
Act Party leader David Seymour talks about legalising euthanasia in New Zealand as if it is a done deal.

He spoke yesterday about his End of Life Choice Bill passing into law easily, possibly even by the end of the year.

Seymour may be showing the cockiness of youth, but he appears to be underestimating the depth of feeling about the issue in New Zealand.

He points to public polls which show up to 75 per cent of New Zealanders are in favour of assisted dying. But the 20,000 submissions to a committee considering a law change over the past six months paint a less certain picture.Unlike the last big conscience issue faced by Parliament, same-sex marriage, there is no clear political or generational divide on euthanasia. Many of the strongest supporters are elderly people who have seen a loved one suffer terribly in their final years or months.

The most influential factor in people’s support or opposition was personal experience. And everyone had a different story to tell the committee.

There was the woman who supported a law change because she had once witnessed the bloody aftermath of a terminally ill neighbour who had killed himself. There was the young student who survived Stage 3 cancer and concluded that seriously ill people were not capable of deciding about the future. And there was the high-ranking Dutch official and fervent believer in euthanasia who changed his mind after witnessing thousands of cases.

One of the most common arguments raised by opponents is the risk of the slippery slope – that laws could gradually be loosened to allow relatively healthy people to be eligible for an assisted death.

Whether Seymour’s bill progresses will come down to how broad its scope is, and whether he can convince his colleagues that the safeguards go far enough.

His legislation is based on former Labour MP Maryan Street’s bill, but goes further by making non-terminal patients eligible for a medically-assisted death. That has caused even the Greens – the only party with a pro-euthanasia policy – to pause before deciding how its MPs will vote.