Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Death with dignity back for another round

Euthanasia is a perennial topic of member's bills. In 1995, then-National MP Michael Laws proposed the Death With Dignity Bill. It was voted down 61 to 29. In 2003, NZ First's Peter Brown had another go, losing 60 - 57. The bill was in the ballot again for the subsequent Parliamentary term, but was never drawn. And now the issue is back for another go, this time led by Labour's Maryan Street:

Labour list MP Maryan Street, who is working on a private member's bill that would legalise some end-of-life options, told TV ONE's Breakfast that the public attitude about euthanasia has changed.


Street said her bill was "about autonomy, it's about dignity and most of all it's about compassion".

"More and more people are looking to have the kind of control at the end of their life that they like to have during their life," she said.

There's more details about the bill here.

As I've said before, I support death with dignity. It is a matter of fundamental personal autonomy. Our lives belong to us, not to some imaginary sky fairy. We should not have to starve ourselves to death if we wish to end them, or have to ask our friends to risk prosecution if we are incapable even of that. The law should provide for it (with appropriate safeguards, of course).

This is also I think an issue which could succeed this term. The margin of defeat has been narrowing over the years, as religious people have died off and social acceptance of euthanasia has grown. And with a strong generational shift in National, I think support will have increased enough to get it over the line. The question now is whether it will be drawn from the ballot...