The right-to-die debate is poised to be thrust back on the political agenda as support mounts for a parliamentary inquiry.
More than a decade after Parliament was divided by a vote on voluntary euthanasia, there is cross-party support that the public deserves a fresh debate through a select committee inquiry.
It follows the death on Friday from natural causes of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales on the same day that it was made public she had lost her bid lost her bid for the courts to rule in favour of assisted suicide.
A petition due to be presented to Parliament could be the catalyst for a fresh debate on voluntary euthanasia – but the Government is refusing to say whether it would back a wide ranging inquiry.
ACT leader David Seymour has confirmed he is drafting a member’s bill calling for a debate on euthanaisa and will urge the Government to adopt the bill.
Good to see that a bill will be put forward. The challenge will be to get it drawn from the ballot, or adopted by the Government (less likely).
I believe any bill, if drafted carefully with safeguards, will pass Parliament with a substantial majority.
Public opinion is massively in favour of a law change. The last public poll saw 74% in favour and just 20% opposed.
A select committee inquiry in response to the petition is a useful thing to do, but not as a substitute to a bill. It can get the arguments on the table, but it can’t lead to a law change, a vote in the House or even a debate in the House. As it is uncertain when a bill might be drawn out of the ballot, it is a good thing to do to keep attention on the issue, and hear arguments on what safeguards there should be. But a bill should go into the ballot as soon as possible, to maximise the chance of it being considered this term.