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Parliament rejects accountability safeguards for euthanasia


“It’s disappointing that Parliament failed to address the accountability issues in the End of LifeChoice Bill,” says Renée Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

Last night Parliament debated Part 3 of the Bill, which covers the responsibilities of the Registrar, the SCENZ Group and the Review Committee.


The Registrar’s main responsibility would be to receive forms from the health practitioners involved in a euthanasia process.

The SCENZ Group’s main responsibility would be to maintain lists of health practitioners who are willing to be involved and select the second medical practitioner who checks whether a person is eligible.

The Review Committee’s main responsibility would be to consider whether the reports completed after the deaths show satisfactory compliance with the law. However, the Committee would only be able to assess whether the forms were filled out properly. They would not be able to verify whether the information on the reports are accurate.

The only successful amendment was David Seymour’s one, which made only one substantial change to Part 3 as originally drafted, namely, that one of the three members of the Review Committee could be a nurse, instead of a doctor. The other two members of the Committee would be a medical ethicist and a medical practitioner practising in end-of-life care.

Louisa Wall confirmed that she read several of the amendments and said, “So I want to acknowledge that the Supplementary Order Papers that have been presented tonight are valid and they are good Supplementary Order Papers…”

Nevertheless all the other 34 amendments were voted down, and without anyone, other than Seymour, expressing any problems with these amendments.

The Bill contains gaps that make wrongful deaths possible:
• Nobody is responsible for reviewing all the forms pertaining to a particular case. Nobody needs to check that the forms filled out before the death matches up with the report completed after the death.
• Contrary to the case in the Netherlands, this Review Committee would not have any information about the person’s medical record, eligibility or whether they made a voluntary request.
• Nobody is responsible for following up missing death reports.
• No witnesses are required at the death. If the person changed their mind at the last minute but the doctor or nurse administered the lethal dose anyway, nobody else would know.
• A nurse is allowed to administer the lethal dose even if coercion is present at the time of death.
• No evidence is required that a nurse practitioner who administered a lethal dose was authorised to do so.


The debate on Part 4 is scheduled for Wednesday 25 September.


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