Thursday, 15 October 2015

The right to end your suffering [updated]

May we be cautiously optimistic that the right to voluntary euthanasia –to die at the time and manner of your choosing, if you wish --will finally be recognised in law in this country sometime soon?

It is quite literally a lottery, but ACT’s David Seymour is promoting a private member’s Bill which, if drawn in the regular ballot, could legalise assisted dying, and end the unendurable.

In my view [says Seymour] it is politically, morally, legally and, in terms of public policy, the right thing to do.

And so it is.

If drawn, it’s been confirmed today (as much as anything is ever really confirmed in politics) that the Prime Minister would give his own backing to the bill.

John Key said he would support a new member's bill lodged by Act leader David Seymour yesterday if it was drawn from the ballot… Mr Key's endorsement could play an important role in changing minds on the contentious issue.

Let’s hope so. One mind that very much needs to be changed is that of Mr Key’s Catholic deputy Bill English who, at the last vote on a similar member’s bill struck a blow for religious barbarism by saying that "Pain is part of life, and watching it is part of our humanity." It is Catholic commentary along these lines that prompted Christopher Hitchens many years ago to dub Mother Teresa, who also enjoyed watching people suffer, Hell’s Angel.

Frankly, the fewer opportunities there are for the inhumane to get between those who have chosen to end their unendurable suffering and the means by which to do it, the better. This bill, should it be drawn and passed, reduces those opportunities considerably.

So let’s hope, for the memory of Lecretia Seales and to end the suffering of many like her in the future, that it does appear, and soon.

Because if the Prime Minister keeps his promise, and Labour’s leader supports the law change, as he said he would, then change could come fairly rapidly.

Because it’s not like there’s much in the way of promised policies clogging up the order paper …


The bill wasn’t drawn in this afternoon’s ballot, more’s the pity, and Mark Hubbard calls for those politicians who did find success in the ballot to put politics aside in the name of compassion, and allow Seymour’s bill to substitute for their own:

I think it’s crazy something so important is left to a lottery, but this is authoritarian democracy. So given we’ll never see such a basic right from the National Government, I’m calling for a grand gesture from the ballot winners.
    For those who would say this isn’t how Parliament works, I say this is death and pain we’re dealing with - what is more important than the humanity existing in those two issues…
David Stephens, for Helen Kelly, for all those who would avail themselves of a death with dignity in this century

More related posts from Mark:


  1. Damn, must have hit return on that last one. Two of the three bills picked from the ballot are Sepuloni's Social Security Bill and Russel Norman's (& he's not even in Parliament anymore) Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill.

    So we'll be debating growing the state and making life harder for the poor with higher fuel costs (presumably), for a climate change that may affect us in 100 years.

    Meanwhile, we continue to have no choice over intimate matters concerning managing our health, hence bodies. And for those dying or in pain, there is no luxury of time.

  2. I even got that wrong: must have been looking at last ballot before updating. The four drawn from ballot are:

    Education (Restoration of Democracy to University Councils) Amendment Bill Hon David Cunliffe
    5 Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill Dr Jian Yang
    27 Electricity Transparency Bill David Shearer
    37 Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) Andrew Little

    Make your own mind up if any of those topics are more important than euthanasia (or cannabis oil onto the legal lists for chronic pain and palliative care as substitute for those where morphine doesn't work.)


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