Voluntary euthanasia – public may get referendum

MPs are shaping up across party lines over a bill that would allow euthanasia.

But as a result of MPs’ horse trading, it’s the public who may decide – in a referendum.

MPs have voted by 76 to 44 to send the End of Life Choice Bill to a select committee.

First, the committee will hear submissions from the public but it won’t have the final say.

New Zealand First has agreed with the bill’s sponsor to let the public decide in a binding referendum.

So Act’s David Seymour has agreed to add the referendum to the bill.

In return, New Zealand First will vote as a block in favour of the bill even while some of its members oppose euthanasia.

Other parties will let their MPs vote according to their conscience.

Polls show a high level of public support for euthanasia.

While this is the third attempt to pass such a law, big splits in opinions have always emerged.

The previous unsuccessful attempts happened in 2003 and 1995.

The prime minister says she would support the bill while it has safeguards to protect the vulnerable.

Jacinda Ardern says she believes people should have choice.

National Party, Bill English, opposes the bill.

He says, “We’re creating an exemption from the criminal law against killing.”

Meanwhile one of his MPs, Chris Bishop, says Parliament has a “once in a generation” chance to uphold human dignity.

The bill would let New Zealanders aged 18 and over choose to end their life through assisted suicide.

They would need to be within 6 months of death from a terminal illness or be suffering a grievous and untreatable illness.

Two doctors would still need to assess the patient’s condition and confirm his or her ability to give informed consent.

A specialist in the illness would also examine the case.

A referendum would take place at the next election if MPs pass the bill.


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News category: New Zealand.

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