End of Life Choice Bill – the real fight is still to come

end of life choice bill

On Wednesday evening David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill passed the second reading stage by 70 votes to 50; 9 votes more than the 61 votes required.

It was a slimmer margin than the one achieved at first reading in December 2017. The vote then was 76 to 44.

While the vote appears decisive with a majority of 20, it will require a shift of only 11 votes to block it at the third and final reading.

New Zealand First has supported the Bill at first and second reading but only on the expectation that an amendment will be passed putting to a referendum at the next stage of debate.

If the referendum amendment is not agreed, senior New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin has said it would be unlikely the party would support the bill at its final reading.

Just 20 MPs had the opportunity to debate the bill. Many of them used their time in the debate to express disappointment at the Justice Select Committee process.

The Committee didn’t manage to make any major change such as narrowing the bill to apply to only the terminally ill.

As it stands, the bill would allow for people in unbearable suffering, with an incurable, grievous condition or who have a terminal illness likely to end their life within six months, to ask a doctor to help end their life.

That was a reason many speakers gave for voting in favour of the second reading.

They expressed the hope that this next stage – the Committee of the whole House – would allow for changes to be made.

This has prompted a number of commentators to say that the real fight is yet to come.

Almost everyone involved agrees that it will need serious amending – including Seymour himself.

Maggie Barry, who has strongly opposed assisted dying, called the Bill the most poorly drafted she’d ever seen.

The Bill will now move to the House where more major amendments will be proposed and debated before it faces its third and final reading.

Barry is leading a group of MPs opposing the Bill, with more than a hundred proposed amendments.

If the bill is passed with New Zealand First’s support, then a referendum must take place.

Click here to see party and individual votes.

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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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