“The End of Life Choice Bill is a response to the anguish faced by a small but significant minority of people with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill, as they anticipate the prospect of intolerable suffering and the indignity of the final few days and weeks of their lives.
“The motivation for this Bill is compassion. It allows people who so choose and are eligible under this Bill to end their life in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones,” he said.
Part of the Key’s reluctance to put the issue on the Government’s books is the number of the grey areas the issue presents.
He has said its very difficult to get the legislation right.
Seymour said his bill “carefully defined those eligible for assisted dying”.
“It details a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure this is a free choice made without coercion, and outlines a stringent series of steps to ensure the person is mentally capable of understanding the nature and consequences of assisted dying.”
The details around safeguards will be an important focus.
The bill is online here. The eligibility criteria are:
- is aged 18 years or over
- has New Zealand citizenship or is a permanent resident
- suffers from a terminal illness likely to end their life within 6 months or has a grievous and irremediable medical condition
- is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability
- experiences unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that he or she considers tolerable
- has the ability to understand the nature and consequences of assisted dying
The process would be:
- A person requests assisted dying
- Two medical practitioners will have to be satisfied that the person meets the criteria required.
- The medical practitioner must also encourage the person to talk about his or her choice with family, friends, and counsellors, ensure that the person has had the opportunity to talk to his or her choice of people, and do his or her best to ensure that the person has chosen assisted dying free of any pressure or coercion.
- The medical practitioner must then contact the SCENZ Group, which will refer the person requesting assisted dying to a second medical practitioner, who must be independent of the person and of the initial medical practitioner.
- After the reading of the person’s files and the examination of the person have occurred, should either medical practitioner be uncertain about whether the person requesting assisted dying is competent, the two medical practitioners must jointly refer the person to a specialist with a relevant scope in mental health.
The House may deal with as many as four members’ bills today, which means potentially four to be drawn from the ballot tomorrow. The odd for this bill being picked will be around 4/70 or around 6%. So it is unlikely to come before Parliament for a fair while.