New Zealand MP withdraws euthanasia bill from ballot

Maryan Streetby Michelle Kaufman
Reposted from

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, September 30, 2013 ( – In a dramatic move, New Zealand’s Labour MP, Maryan Street has withdrawn her End of Life Choice Bill from the parliamentary ballot box.

The draft euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation would, if drawn from the ballot, have seen the issue being debated in an election year. The Labour party earlier asked Street to consider withdrawing the bill as it was seen to be a negative distraction.

Many leading groups have already expressed opposition to the legislation, including the New Zealand Medical Association and Hospice New Zealand.

Street explained that she did not want her bill debated in an election year saying, “I’m concerned that it would not get the treatment it deserves. It needs sober, considered reflection, and that’s not a hallmark of election years in my experience.”

While Street has vowed to put the End of Life Choice Bill back into the ballot after the 2014 elections, groups who oppose the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide are seeing this as an opportunity to further educate the New Zealand public and MPs about the dangers.

Euthanasia Free NZ’s spokesperson, Professor Emeritus David Richmond, called for a redoubling of efforts on the part of all groups and organisations opposed to the bill to alert the public of the danger to society, including the loss of human freedom.

Richmond also said that the one-sided nature of the debate held so far in New Zealand has led to the situation where a majority of residents have said in polls that they support legalised euthanasia. He put this down to the media, the simplistic nature of the questions asked and ignorance among the general public of the wider issues involved.

According to critics, the draft legislation had major loopholes which would have seen just about anyone being able to request drugs to end their life. They also charged that it provided opportunities for elder abuse, already is a big problem in New Zealand.

A highly contentious provision in the bill that would have provided immunity from civil and criminal liability for any person, whether professional or lay, who failed to carry out the law properly through act or omission “in good faith.”

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