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Barry Soper: Euthanasia's time has surely come

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 9 April 2019, 9:33a.m.
Seymour's argument is simple: It's one of the last human rights issues that needs to be sorted. Photo / NZ Herald
Seymour's argument is simple: It's one of the last human rights issues that needs to be sorted. Photo / NZ Herald

COMMENT:

It's totally safe to say no one would want to be in a position to be affected by a bill being reported back to Parliament today.

The gestation of David Seymour's End of Life Choice bill's been a long one - almost four years - attracting around 38,000 submissions, the largest number of people to have a say on any piece of legislation that's come before Parliament.

Euthanasia's an issue whose time has surely come. There have been too many people suffering with terminal, agonising illnesses who simply want to end it all and yet the state dictates they're not allowed to be assisted in doing so.

Then last two attempts to legalise euthanasia failed.

In 1995 rabble-rousing MP Michael Laws introduced a Death with Dignity bill, spurred on by his MP mate Cam Campion who was suffering from bowel cancer. It failed by 61 votes to 29.

New Zealand First's Peter Brown tried again in 2003 after experiencing and reliving his wife's agonising death of cancer almost 20 years earlier. That failed by just one vote to begin its process through Parliament.

And then in 2012 Labour's former president and then list MP Maryan Street proposed another euthanasia bill after the deaths of her mother and sister from incurable illnesses.

Street was leaned on to withdraw the bill because it was felt it would detract from other issues during the 2014 election campaign.

So now it's Seymour's turn, and even though his own mother died of cancer in her early 50s, that's not what's driving him.

Seymour's argument is simple: It's one of the last human rights issues that needs to be sorted. After all, it wasn't too long ago that we were told you could only marry someone of the opposite sex.

The Act leader's euthanasia bill has gone further than any other in the political system, mainly due to the fact that he was prepared to compromise, agreeing to it being put to a binding referendum at the next election.

And that would seem to be to counter any opposition coming to it from New Zealand First which has always maintained the decision's too big for the politicians alone to decide.

Of course it's a conscience vote and it aims to give people with a terminal or an incurable illness the option of asking for assistance to die.

That option shouldn't be one for the state to decide.

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