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Seales Family Responds to Assisted Dying Report

Seales Family Responds to Assisted Dying Report

Media Release
Lecretia’s Choice
2 August 2017
For Immediate Release

Today the New Zealand Parliament’s Health Select Committee released its report on assisted dying in New Zealand. Though it made no recommendations on legislation, it is nevertheless is a useful summary of the wide-ranging views of the New Zealand public on assisted dying.

Lecretia Seales’ widower, Matt Vickers, said: “On the whole, the report is a balanced overview of the arguments for and against assisted dying, and the Select Committee should be commended for their work. Despite hints of an organised campaign by church groups to swamp the select committee’s investigation with opposing views, the committee has presented the arguments objectively and fairly, taking into account not only the submissions for and against, but also the high level of public support for assisted dying legislation as shown by numerous polls.”

“The findings made by Justice Collins in Seales v Attorney General are almost entirely supported by the findings of the committee. They agreed there was evidence that palliative care could sometimes be insufficient, and that my late wife’s desire for autonomy and choice over how she died is a desire shared by many other submitters. I too share the committee’s dismay at several submissions from people who knew someone who ended their lives early and violently to escape their illnesses. ”

“Many of the myths and conjecture presented by several assisted dying opponents as facts were dispelled. The committee tasked the Ministry of Health with research into several opponents’ claims. They researched whether vulnerable groups were affected by assisted dying legislation and they found no evidence of this. They researched whether suicide rates were higher in jurisdictions with assisted dying and again, they found no evidence of this. They researched whether trust in doctors was lower in jurisdictions with assisted dying, and found precisely the opposite. They researched the sensational claim of Dutch patients wearing “do not euthanise me” bracelets, and again found that this was a myth dreamt up by fearmongering opponents.”

“In attempting to have a rational debate with opponents about assisted dying, it has been frustrating to have to deal with unsubstantiated claims like these being presented as truth, and it is very useful to have these baseless claims dispelled once and for all.”

“Though a recommendation on law change would have been helpful, we believe the report will nevertheless be useful to Members of Parliament in their understanding of the issue of assisted dying in New Zealand, as they come to consider MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill.”

“On behalf of Lecretia’s family I’d like to extend our thanks to the Health Select Committee for taking such a balanced approach, and for taking the time to evaluate the relative merits of each piece of evidence. We hope this report will ultimately be useful in achieving a change to the law.”


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