Human Rights Commission on euthanasia

The Herald reports:

New Zealand’s human rights watchdog has given the “orange light” to assisted dying, saying that the Government should proceed with caution and only if strict safeguards are in place.

These safeguards should include a minimum age limit, a prognosis that a person will die within 12 months, and an opt-out clause for doctors who do not want to be part of the process.

Sounds reasonable.

The ’s chief legal adviser Janet Anderson-Bidois said the commission’s position was unanimously backed by all commissioners after “a very robust discussion”.

“In summary, the commission’s agreed position is that a legal framework permitting assistance to be given to a competent, adult, terminally ill person, if he or she autonomously chooses to do so, could be acceptable with the following provisos: that the system must be delivered in a manner consistent with core human rights principles; the process must be accompanied by adequate legal and procedural safeguards; and appropriate palliative care services must be available and accessible for all terminally all people.”

The key issue is allowing a competent person to choose.

• High thresholds: Minimum age of 18 years old and likely death within 12 months.
• No coercion or influence: System ensures decisions are competently and freely made.
• Medical backing: Appropriate medical advice to confirm prognosis and confirm absence of treatable condition which may affect any decision-making ability.
• Cooling off period: To prevent hasty and reactive decisions, especially after a recent diagnosis.
• Monitoring: Ongoing monitoring and independent review to prevent abuse of the system and give public transparency.
• Judicial oversight: To determine whether thresholds for assisted dying have been met.
• “Conscientious objection” clause: Make participation in the assisted dying process voluntary for medical professionals.
• Cultural considerations: Take into account cultural diversity of NZ in any legal framework, especially those for whom English is a second language.
• Alternatives: Make sure palliative care is accessible and remains a first choice, rather than making assisted dying a default option.

They all look like sensible provisions.

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