No agreement and disappointment after lengthy End of Life Choice bill hearing

Stuff co.nz 9 April 2019
Family First Comment: “The committee was given 16 months to study the bill, hear submissions, and try to fix it. They simply couldn’t, because it’s a flawed, dangerous bill.” – Family First NZ

It took 16 months, almost 40,000 submissions, and a nationwide tour of 14 cities.

The result was a report that found no agreement on whether the End of Life Choice Bill should be passed, made no substantive recommendations, drew few conclusions and disappointed those on both sides of a hard-fought debate.

Both advocates and opponents of the bill – which seeks to legalise voluntary euthanasia – have resumed their default positions for a familiar battle that will span months to come.

The report, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, did not address any contentious aspects of the prospective law, with the eight Justice Select Committee MPs declining to “consider substantive policy issues on a conscience bill”.

“On the many substantial issues, we did not decide. However, we do agree that the bill is not workable in its present state,” the report said.

End of Life Choice Society president Maryan Street who, in 2012 as a Labour MP, introduced a similar Member’s Bill to Parliament, to allow terminally-ill people to choose when to die. She was among those left less-than-impressed with the committee’s conclusion.

She said the society was “disappointed” the report was not bolder, “given the overwhelming support for a law change New Zealanders have consistently shown in reputable opinion polls”.

However, she believed it was legitimate for the committee to pass the issue to the full Parliament where it would be decided on a conscience vote by MPs.

“It is encouraging that the committee has left the policy content of the bill largely intact, with only minor, technical, and consequential amendments.”

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who is on the opposing side, called the bill “a mess”.

He noted that a significant amount of MPs who voted in favour of the bill in its first reading did so in order to allow the select committee to analyse the proposed legislation and make appropriate changes.

“The committee was given 16 months to study the bill, hear submissions, and try to fix it. They simply couldn’t, because it’s a flawed, dangerous bill.”
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/111911395/no-agreement-and-disappointment-after-lengthy-end-of-life-choice-bill-hearing

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