Friday, June 05, 2015

No death with dignity in NZ

The High Court has ruled in Seales v Attorney General, finding that there is no right to die in New Zealand. Its disappointing, but understandable. While I agree with Andrew Geddis that there was a clear path available of reinterpreting the law so as to be consistent with the BORA, I can also see why the High Court (rather than a higher court) wouldn't want to take that path. Unfortunately, there was no time to appeal: the plaintiff died last night.

The good news is that MPs are listening:

Both Labour and National MPs are talking about moving forward with action on assisted suicide following the death of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales.


Lees-Galloway on Friday said Seales' personal sacrifice could be honoured by Parliament now looking seriously at the issue of euthanasia.

"I thought Lecretia was incredibly brave and the fact that she continued her fight literally right up to the end was amazing - her family should be incredibly proud of her, and I really hope that the effort that she put in makes a difference."

Lees-Galloway said he was interested to see what the Judge had decided in the case, but ultimately thought euthanasia was for Parliament to legislate on and clarify, rather than have the courts decide on a case-by-case basis.


Speaking on the Paul Henry Show, National MP Judith Collins said she thought Parliament would have to deal with the issue, but in the past private Members' Bills had been "a bit short and sharp", without considering all the factors.

Collins said MPs were the right people to start the conversation, but a wide range of people needed to be consulted and heard on the issue.

From the sound of it, an upcoming petition from the End of Life Choice Association will provide a basis for a select committee inquiry, and hopefully a cross-Parliamentary push for reform. Change is still a long, long way away - the government isn't interested (no money in it for big business and no "kick a crim" headlines), so presumably there will need to be a member's bill put in the ballot as part of that process. And while things could be sped up by ballot-spamming, as happened with marriage equality, we're still looking at probably a two-year process.