Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Supporting voluntary euthanasia

Have you written your submission yet supporting David Seymour's bill, which supports your right to voluntary euthanasia -- his End of Life Choice Bill?

Submissions close on March 6, so get going. (No excuses! It's not hard to write one.)

Here, as today's guest post, is Robin Osborne's:
Submission on the End of Life Choice Bill
I strongly support the End of Life ChoiceBill.
My submission will comment on the following matters: -
1.   Proposed amendments to the Bill
2.   Effect on caregivers
3.   Time frame for compliance
4.   Organised opposition to the Bill
5.  Safeguards etc
6.  General Comments

1.  Proposed amendments to the Bill
a.   Background.  In the second paragraph, would it not be more accurate to say “some people in New Zealand are suffering unbearably at the end of their lives and would be able to die earlier than if they had to wait for natural causes,”
This is surely the main point of the Bill.
b.  Main Provisions.  The penultimate paragraph defines the responsibilities of the Registrar.  I believe there should also be a time factor, where the Registrar is required to make his decision within a certain time frame, say 24 hrs, so that the whole process does not become bogged down in paperwork and indecision.  This sort of time frame should apply to every person involved in the whole procedure.  Otherwise I can see the time dragging out to the point that it will not only be too late, but defeat the whole purpose of the Bill, which is to alleviate suffering.  Additionally, there should be a Registrar available 24/7 with the authority to make instant decisions.
c.  Process.   I reiterate the need for urgency once the person has indicated his or her desire to get help with dying.  Time frames should be applied to all stages of the process, and everybody should be available for 24 hours of every day, including weekends and public holidays.  When the decision is made action needs to be fast or the whole purpose of the Bill is negated.
Clause9 (4) (d) (ii).    Difficult to enforce.  A declaration of interest would suffice.
Clause10 (3).  Insert (c) :   Both actions to be completed within 24 hours of being notified of the person’s decision
Clause15 (3).  Insert a subclause setting a time frame for all these actions. 
Clause 24 (1) (c).   Change “life-sustaining” to “any”.  This is the status quo, and I can foresee extended legal arguments over the definition of “life-sustaining”
2. Effect on Caregivers
There is mention in the Background section of the Bill document of the effect on the very difficult position family members can be placed in.   There is another element in which all involved with the person have to deal with and that is the physical and mental stress in looking after that person.  I am well aware of a couple of cases I have had experience with, where the caregivers have themselves stated their wish to help someone die when they have been asked to, but are totally unable to do so.  One hears of tales where a doctor has applied an overdose of morphine or some such, but it is absolutely wrong that it should have to be done surreptitiously.  A real and desired outcome of this Bill when it becomes law will be to relieve all family and other caregivers of the appalling experience they have been enduring
Time Frame for Compliance. 
I have commented above on the need for a time frame to be applied if the Bill is to be really effective.  Looking at it from the person’s perspective, once the decision is made it is vital, if only on compassionate and humanitarian grounds, to get on with the process in the most urgent manner. That person will not want to wait around while mountainous forms and procedures are waded through.  It should be possible to get through the whole process in two days, and nobody should be allowed to delay things by more than 24 hours. 
Organised Opposition. 
There is substantial religious opposition to this Bill, which must be recognised and put into perspective.  Parts of the opposition are:-
a).  Dogma and its distribution.  The church leaders are instructing their congregations to oppose the Bill in writing because they say so, without any humane explanation as to why they should.  I would not be surprised if they have a proforma letter, either in writing or online, which parishioners are told to sign and send in.  They will not have read the Bill or have any real idea on what it is all about.
b).  Disinformation.   Opponents are trying to ensure that the popular name for the Bill is “The Euthanasia Bill”, thus implying that it will be used to have the nuisances, the elderly, demented and others largely unwanted put to death en masse.  Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth.  The difficulty is that the disorganised majority will always be at a huge disadvantage to the organised minority.
5.  Safeguards etc.    Great care is necessary to ensure that the process is not involved in lengthy bureaucratic processes.  Whilst safeguards must be in place, and I believe they are adequately spelled out, the primary aspect of this Bill is compassion, and those requesting assistance to die must be allowed to do so without delay, unless caused by themselves.
General Comments.    It is my view that only one person owns a body and that is the person himself.  Nobody else does, and while advice, comments etc. will be given, the final decision to ask for assistance to die can only be made by that person.  Once that request is made, compliance should proceed apace, subject only to the safeguards in the Bill.
In conclusion, I reiterate my very strong support for the End of Life Choice Bill.


  1. Great submission, Robin. It'll be interesting to see the percentages of submissions, this committee, without Simon O'Connor so blatantly sabotaging the process. The meddling churches will be running a concerted campaign, however, unfortunately.

  2. I confess I'm a church goer in Wellington and have yet to hear anyone I mingle with even talk about it in a manner that implied a concerted response or individual submission against it. Most of my mates are in favor of something for those that want it with objections mainly in the area of coercion of old people and killing of those who are, say, depressed but physically well. Those concerns may be eventually seen to be unfounded. There appears an acceptance that the law will change and most who care enough to make a submission will be resigned to an unhappy middle ground that goes too far or not far enough. Personally I'm against a block vote from either side as submissions should be personal rather than a chain letter following instructions.



1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated. Links to bogus news sites (and worse) will be deleted.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say it, it's important enough to put a name to it.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.