The End of Life Choice Bill, introduced by ACT MP David Seymour and currently making its way through Parliament, aims to give people with a terminal illness or a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition the option of seeking assistance to die.
The bill passed its second reading on June 26 with Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and Labour list MP of Rodney, Marja Lubeck, both voting for it to go to the committee stage, where amendments will be made.
It returns to Parliament in about a month’s time, so that MPs can vote on the suggested amendments.
The bill will then go for a third reading, followed by a final vote. This issue will be decided by MPs on a conscience vote. Here is what our local MPs have to say on the issue:
Marja Lubeck (Labour list, Rodney)
I do not support the bill in its current form, but voted for it to go through to the committee stage so that more debate can take place and amendments can be made. Research has shown that knowledge of having access to assisted dying can be a comfort, knowing that the option is available if the suffering and pain would become intolerable; but this does not necessarily mean the person will chose to use this option.
Mark Mitchell (National MP for Rodney)
Mr Mitchell began canvassing the community’s views on this issue last year as he has stated he will vote to reflect the majority view of his electorate. He says on his informal polling, the community is split fairly evenly on the issue.
“The votes from my electorate are constantly changing. I have used public meetings, polls, surveys, and a ballot box in my Orewa office to find out what the majority view in my electorate is. On the day of the End of Life Choice Bill’s second reading, I had received 1309 responses. Of those, 561 were in support of the bill and 563 were against, with the rest undecided. It is very close – considering a margin of error of about 7 percent, the results are virtually 50/50.
I personally do not support the bill in its current form and had this been the third reading, on this poll result, I’d be voting against because I’d have to disregard the undecided and the margin of error. I have major concerns about elder abuse in this country and believe that as a lawmaker, I must protect the most vulnerable.
However, I decided to support the bill through to a committee stage, because I want the people in my electorate to be able to continue to engage in what I think is a critically important debate for us as a country.”