End of Life Choice bill (TVNZ Breakfast Show video from today)
I am preparing a bill which I am calling “End of Life Choice”. It arose out of a meeting in Nelson last year with a group of people who all want to be able to exercise the same control over the end of their lives as they are enjoying during their lives. It is as much about human rights as it is about dignity, autonomy and compassion.
Three levels of protection are necessary:
1 – for the patient or person themselves – from family who would either exploit them or overturn their wishes in extremis, and from insurance companies or anyone else who might exploit them;
2 – for any attending physicians, and there would need to be 2 – from any coercion to breach their own ethics or criminal liability if all procedures were observed;
3 – for any family members who assist in the final moments – from criminal liability.
The first time this was voted on was 1995 (Michael Laws’ bill), it was defeated 61-29. The second time, in 2003 (Peter Brown’s bill), it was defeated 60-57 and of the three who made the difference, two did not vote (John Tamihere and Heather Roy) and one abstained (Dail Jones). It will always be a conscience vote.
I think the time has come for this question to be revisited. I think the social conversation needs to happen again. I think the numbers would be different this time.
Am I right?