MPs have had to vote ‘blind’ on a bill labelled by the Select Committee as “not workable in its present state”.
The assisted suicide bill has more than 100 amendments (SOPs) to be considered to try and make the bill ‘workable’. This may reassure some MPs who voted Yes in the 2nd Reading, but it is far more likely to result in many MPs withdrawing their support by the 3rd Reading.
This Bill is just as much of a mess after the Select Committee process as it was before. The Committee was given 16 months to study the bill, hear submissions, and try to fix it. They simply couldn’t, because it’s a flawed, dangerous bill.
This means our work has really just begun. The bill is likely to be significantly different by the time it is considered for its 3rd Reading.
ACT MP David Seymour’s significant backdowns on the bill last year also indicate just how weak and flawed the bill is. The backdowns are certainly in contrast to his earlier attacks, including his statements that There’s just so much scaremongering that doesn’t stand up to evidence and One of the biggest obstacles are MPs who are not in touch with their electorates…and also MPs who may have been coloured by some of the scare-mongering from the other side.
Even if the bill was limited to just the terminally ill, some people will be euthanised on account of a disease they thought they had but did not. Prognosis is an uncertain procedure. Many people know or have heard of a person who, having been given a pessimistic prognosis, has lived for many years to tell the tale. There will be those who decide for euthanasia on the basis of an unduly pessimistic prognosis or disability. There is also concrete evidence from those countries which have authorised euthanasia that the availability and application of euthanasia expands to situations never initially envisaged as indications for it.
The promotion of assisted suicide is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she can no longer cope with their suffering – whatever the nature of that suffering. This is the real risk to young and to vulnerable people, the disabled and the elderly people if NZ follows the path of promoting – and allowing – assisted suicide.