By: Tess Nichol

Video: Rachel Rijpma on the End of Life Choice Bill. / 90 Seconds Media NZ 

 

It’s a case of quantity over quality when it comes to the tens of thousands of submissions made about euthanasia, says Act leader David Seymour.

The MP’s End of Life Choice Bill is currently in the select committee phase, having passed its first reading in December through a conscience vote – 76 MPs voted in favour and 44 voted against.

Many MPs restricted their support to the first reading, saying future support would depend on public submissions and amendments made during the select committee process.

Public submissions on the bill close at midnight on Tuesday.

Seymour, the bill’s sponsor, expected most submissions would be against the bill, as had been the case with moral issues like civil unions and legalising prostitution.

He had been told about four days ago 14,000 people had made submissions, but said it was what was in the submissions that counted, rather than the number.

Act Party leader and Epsom MP David Seymour said amongst the tens of thousands of submissions would be information which would help draft the bill. Photo / Andrew Warner

“Having been an MP who sat on a committee before I can assure you that it’s not the number of submissions that are received, in fact a large volume of submissions all saying saying the same thing just irritates MPs.

“What the committee is looking for is useful information that will help them make a better law.

“I can almost guarantee there will be useful information in submissions which will help them make the bill better.”

Because submissions were made a by a self-selecting group of people, weighing the number for or against would be akin to taking seriously a poll taken at Eden Park asking whether people liked rugby, Seymour said.

“They don’t represent the overall opinion, which is the [majority] of New Zealanders who support my bill.”

He was referring to a Reid Research poll conducted in February for Newshub which found 71 per cent of those surveyed supported the bill.

Seymour said after submissions had closed he hoped select committee member would get the chance to travel overseas to speak with experts in places where assisted dying was legal.

“It’s important that a little country at the end of the earth invests in getting perspectives from the rest of the world,” he said.

The End of Life Choice Bill is based on an earlier piece of legislation drafted by former Labour MP Maryan Street.

It would allow mentally competent New Zealand adults who have a terminal illness likely to end their life within six months, or have a grievous and irremediable medical condition, the choice to ask a doctor to help end their life at the time of their choosing.

The Director-General of Health would establish a group of medical practitioners who would maintain a register of health professionals willing to participate in assisted dying.

A new process would require two medical practitioners to be satisfied a person meets the required criteria. The second would be independent of the patient and initial doctor.

Video campaign #MyLifeMyChoice, had been viewed by more than 100,000 people on social media.

The five videos making up the #MyLifeMyChoice campaign include one with Lecretia Seales’ widower, Matt Vickers, and New Zealander of the year Dr Lance O’Sullivan.

The remaining three feature Kiwis suffering from terminal illness who support Seymour’s bill.

Most reaction on social media were in favour of the bill, Seymour said.

“Overwhelmingly [they were saying] it’s disgraceful to deny people choice.”

Source: NZ Herald

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