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CfI into assisted dying on track to break records

Call for inquiry into assisted dying on track to break Parliamentary records

The call for an inquiry into laws governing assisted dying is on track to break Parliamentary records.

The incoming President of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES), Hon Maryan Street, says there are approximately 22,000 submissions on the petition in her name which is being considered by the Health Select Committee. The petition seeks an inquiry into public opinion on assisted dying. The final number of submissions is yet to be confirmed by the Committee.

“The committee has been flooded with submissions at a level last seen during the debate on the marriage equality bill. It is an overwhelming response and demonstrates the strong public desire for MPs to tackle this subject.”

There were 21,500 submissions on the marriage equality legislation introduced in 2012. Of those, about 86 per cent were ‘form submissions’ on pre-written postcards, and the remainder were unique or personalised submissions.

Maryan Street said it appears the petition on assisted dying has a large proportion of unique submissions, which distinguishes it from previous comparable debates. “If the scale of unique or personalised submissions is as large as it appears, then it is no wonder the Select Committee has taken some time to process them and organise hearings. The petition was presented one year ago this week, on 23 June 2015.

“The committee has undertaken to travel out of Wellington to hear submitters and that process is likely to begin in August.

“The time has come for MPs to have a mature discussion about the right of a person to choose how and when they might die, if they are suffering from a terminal illness or a condition which has become unbearable for them. Huge numbers of other New Zealanders are having that discussion.

“This right needs to be accorded by Parliament through a law such as David Seymour’s bill which is currently in the ballot, or the bill I previously promoted when I was an MP and which VES is promoting now.

“Other countries are passing similar legislation with all the safeguards and criteria which VES promotes. Protection for medical practitioners who assist in the process, in accordance with strict criteria and protocols, is central to such laws.

“This is about the fundamental issue of the right for self-determining adults to be able to call an end to their suffering when they choose, not when somebody else chooses for them.”

Maryan Street’s election as President will be confirmed at today’s AGM of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. The AGM will be followed at 1.30pm by a public meeting held at the Brentwood Hotel, Kilbirnie, Wellington, addressed by Australian campaigner, Andrew Denton.

ENDS

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