Carter Welcomes Dutch Legalisation Of Euthanasia
Labour MP and Junior Whip, Chris Carter, has welcomed the move by the Dutch Upper House, in a 46 to 28 vote, to legalize euthanasia. The Te Atatu MP has indicated that he is considering presenting a second Private Member’s Bill, based on the Dutch Law, to the New Zealand Parliament.
“Peter Brown of NZ First has submitted his ‘Death with Dignity Bill’ to the Private Members’ Ballot. So far, this Bill has not been drawn out and I think another similar measure may increase the chances of getting such a bill before the House”, said the Labour MP.
The Dutch Bill allows doctors to help patients who have a terminal disease to die. It regulates a practice discreetly used in the Netherlands for decades, turning guidelines adopted by the Dutch Parliament in 1993 into legally binding requirements. These require a long term doctor-patient relationship and exclude euthanasia for non-residents.
“I think the new Dutch law is very sensible and humanitarian. It provides safeguards but also recognises that individuals have the freedom to choose when they have suffered enough. The Dutch law empowers terminally ill people with an option. I would like to have that choice”, said Chris Carter.
“Safeguards against abuse of the system are critical. The Dutch law provides that two medical opinions must be sought, that the doctor and the patient must have a history of care and that people must be mentally capable of making a rational choice. In addition, Dutch doctors are not allowed to suggest euthanasia as an option and patients must be made aware of all other medical options. Euthanasia can only occur when patients request it and they must be suffering ‘unbearably’.
The Labour MP said he believed a majority of New Zealanders would favour changing our law.
“Polling in the Netherlands had public support for the new law at approximately 90%. Polls in the UK in the last few years have consistently shown that 80% of people support legal euthanasia. Belgium, Spain and Switzerland have already modified their laws or are in the process of doing so, to allow more choice for a terminally ill patient to end their life. I believe support in New Zealand on this issue would reflect that in Britain and in other European countries”, said Chris Carter.
“The Dutch have sensibly taken note of widespread public support for their law. Dutch MPs have given careful consideration to the ethical and humanitarian implications of the law change. My partner has dual Dutch/New Zealand citizenship and I have close ties and contact with the Netherlands. I have followed debate around this bill closely and think such change is overdue in New Zealand.”