Euthanasia bill passes Bill of Rights scrutiny

Stuff reports:

A bill that would legalise under strict controls, has been given a legal stamp of approval that if passed, it would not infringe on basic human rights to life. 

It’s been welcomed by the bill’s holder, ACT leader David Seymour, who said it debunked the “myths” put forward by critics that the bill was poorly drafted.

The report is a standard assessment by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, which test all proposed legislation against the

Useful clarity in the report.

Finlayson found the bill was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights’ section pertaining to age – in a purely legal sense, the age restriction of 18 on Seymour’s bill was discriminatory under the Act. 

But it was fully consistent with the rights not to be deprived of life, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. 

I don’t think anyone is arguing for eligibility to be under 18.

“The report says that the eligibility criteria are narrow enough, and the safeguards strict enough, that the bill will not cause wrongful deaths, and that assisted dying will be available only to the group the bill intends – incurably or terminally ill, and in unbearable suffering.”

Finlayson’s report only related to legal questions of Seymour’s bill. It did not assess it against any moral, ethical, religious or clinical views. 

Seymour said that on the question of the right not to be deprived of life, his bill was consistent with the principles of fundamental justice.

“This differs from the previous bill on assisted dying, in 2003. That bill was found to be inconsistent with the right not to be deprived of life. It didn’t have all of the same safeguards that my bill contains.”

That’s an important difference.

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