MPs mull amendments to the End of Life Choice Bill

By Tema Hemi

ACT Party leader David Seymour has made major amendments to the End of Life Choice Bill after taking on board advice from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, other parties and individual MPs.  

Seymour is asking for compassion toward suffering New Zealanders and ultimately the choice to live or die. 

It's the ultimate life-changing decision, ending the life of a loved one. 

"I'm proposing one really big change which is that you can't be a person who has a long term degenerative condition, you have to be a person with a terminal illness and two doctors say that your life is likely to end within six months," says Seymour.

"You cannot have assisted dying purely because you are disabled, have a psychological condition or are elderly and I want to make it clear, this is about illness and suffering, it's not about your identity or who you are.

"We've put a proposition in there that the doctor cannot initiate the discussion, only the patient. I've been doing a lot of listening to my fellow MPs to try and understand any concerns they may have had about the bill."

Seymour has released his amendments to the committee of the house, where the bill awaits a voting process before reaching its third reading. 

MPs still have mixed views on how they will vote on the issue. 

Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis says, "That's gonna be in the hands of parliament.  It's a conscience decision and we're just going to leave it with that."

National's Judith Collins says, "I am really hopeful that people do not play silly buggers with this process."

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says, "I'll be supporting David Seymour's amendments but i'll be looking at the other amendments as well."

Labours Kiritapu Allan says, "I think there are some technical amendments that could be made to the bill that could mean I could support it."

And Seymour has given assurances he will include Māori practices into his amendments. 

"There's a Māori worldview, that tikanga has a certain view of death.  I don't claim to be an expert about tikanga, what I do know is that it constantly evolves," he says.  

Seymour is optimistic that the End of Life Choice Bill will have its third reading by the end of this year.