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New Zealand wants to follow Canada by removing terminal illness requirement from euthanasia law

by | Nov 10, 2022

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

David Seymour, the leader of the ACT party and the MP who sponsored New Zealand’s euthanasia law, is calling for the law to be broadened.

Isaac Davison reported for the New Zealand Herald on November 6 that Seymour wants the 6 month terminal illness prognosis in the law removed. He indicated that he only included the terminal illness requirement to get support for euthanasia from the other political parties. Davison reported.

Assisted dying law in New Zealand should be relaxed to remove a requirement that a patient has only six months to live, the law’s architect says….

Seymour said he agreed to the six-month requirement to gain the support of the Green Party to pass the bill.

Davison points out that Seymour’s original bill did not include a terminal illness requirement. Seymour’s original bill would have allowed non-terminal patients with “grievous and irremediable conditions” to get access to voluntary euthanasia.

Some groups felt that definition was too broad, and raised concerns it could make assisted dying available to disabled people or mental health patients.

The amended law, which was voted on in a public referendum, made it explicit that applicants could not get access to assisted dying on the basis of disability or mental illness alone.

Not enough killing. 

Seymour seems concerned that too many euthanasia applications were turned down. Davison reported:

Voluntary euthanasia was legalised exactly a year ago, and so far 214 patients had an assisted death. In all, 596 people have applied and 294 people have been deemed eligible.

A total of 120 people were turned down because they were not eligible.

Seymour noted that a third of the ineligible patients were declined because they didn’t meet the criteria of having a terminal illness likely to end their lives within six months.

Seymour argued that the criteria of the New Zealand euthanasia law should be broadened after the government reviews the law in 2024.

Since New Zealand legalized euthanasia through a public referendum and since the referendum specifically stated that euthanasia would only be for terminally ill people with a six month prognosis, therefore any changes to the law should only be passed by another referendum. 

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Euthanasia
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