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My thoughts on Euthanasia

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are sobering and divisive issues which as law makers, all MPs now have to grapple with since ACT MP David Seymour’s Members bill was drawn from the Ballot. While the majority of National MPs voted against this very permissive bill, the block votes of the Greens and Winston First doing a deal with ACT meant it had the numbers to pass the first reading and public submissions will be heard from February by the Justice Select Committee. As Minister for Seniors over the past 3 years I am very aware of the growing problem of elder abuse and that the 2000 annually reported physical, psychological and financial abuse cases are only the tip of the iceberg. This bill contains no real safeguards to protect the vulnerable. After Chairing an expert working group on the care of people who are dying in the late 1990s which included North Shore Hospice CEO Jan Nichols, and being a former Patron of Hospice NZ, I don’t believe the answer is to kill people but to continue to invest in world class palliative care such as that provided through our excellent Hospice in Takapuna.

Our vulnerable, including the elderly and the one in four New Zealanders with a disability require and deserve the best possible legal protections to ensure that they are not predated on, taken advantage of or made to feel they are ‘past their use-by date’ and therefore  ‘encouraged’ to end their life prematurely. Medical professionals are almost universally against this bill because of the requirement on them to administer deadly toxins against their principles of neither prolonging nor shortening life and the lack of genuine safeguards for patients. I encourage you to discuss the issue with friends and family and get in touch with MPs on this conscience vote, especially those who voted in favour at its first reading.

The answer is not to coerce and to kill, as this bill dictates; it is to continue to invest in world-class palliative care, and that's what we have in this country. Even if you are a sympathetic person to assisted suicide, this is not the bill to deliver it. And make no mistake about it, legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia is the exception and not the norm. New Zealand is on the right side of this. New Zealand law is adequate, and has good provisions. We have world-class palliative care, and that is why I will never support this bill.

You can view the Bill here