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Protecting against wrongful death is the goal

Protecting vulnerable people from being coerced to end their lives is the aim of a group of MPs who are opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill, which enters its committee stages in Parliament today, MP for North Shore Hon Maggie Barry and MP for Helensville Chris Penk say.

“We will be individually tabling and supporting a number of amendments to the proposed law which will reduce the likelihood of people being coerced into ending their lives because other people think it is the right choice,” Ms Barry says.

“The bill as it is written has no effective safeguards to protect people from coercion and wrongful deaths. Even one wrongful death is one too many.”

The amendments include raising the age of eligibility to 25 and ensuring those eligible are able to make an independent decision.

“We will be proposing a large number of changes to the End of Life Choice bill,” Mr Penk says. “This bill as it is written is recognised by all MPs as deficient in many areas. Even the sponsor of the bill has already had to propose dozens of amendments of his own. Parliament is just beginning the very complex process of addressing some very difficult policy issues that were never addressed in the drafting of this proposed law.”

The group of MPs opposed to the bill from across the house has undertaken to debate the bill positively and not engage in obstruction or filibustering. “We are not here to play games,” Mr Penk says. “But we also will not compromise on the quality of this proposed law – not when it is literally a matter of life or death.

"In particular, we are here to consider whether the offer of choice in dying for some people can be met with a guarantee of protection from harm for all people, or whether such protection proves impossible to achieve in the end despite the best intentions and goodwill of MPs.”

Ms Barry emphasised that the bill to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide is entering its most important Parliamentary phase.

“The End of Life Choice Bill passed its early readings on a promise that MPs were not making a final commitment and that they would have the opportunity to change it, or even reject it later,” Ms Barry says.

“There is no ‘later’ now. Today marks the commencement of a debate where all of us as 120 MPs have to start taking personal responsibility for every component of this bill.”

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