The Hon Maryan Street, initiator of the End-of-Life Choice Bill, will talk at a meeting on the Kāpiti Coast next weekend.
It’s just year since she launched her campaign for a member’s Bill to guarantee the rights of all terminally ill people to choose a medically assisted death, with careful safeguards.
Now Ms Street is coming to Kapiti to promote her Bill and say why she believes the new law is essential and inevitable.
The meeting will be held in the Senior Citizens’ Rooms, Ocean Road, Paraparaumu Beach on Saturday, 23rd March, at 2.15pm.
Ms Street says: “I am persuaded that most people want to see an appropriately restrictive law in this area, based on compassion for those suffering from terminal illnesses or irreversible conditions which in their view, make their lives unbearable.
“Recent polling undertaken on this issue has been informative and clearly supports this view.”
Ms Street says that in July 2012, and based on the wording of the proposed new law, a poll of nearly 3000 citizens was taken by the independent Horizon Research. Their survey revealed that 62.9% of people polled supported or strongly supported the Bill and only 12.3% opposed it, leaving some 24.8% still to make up their minds.
Over the past 20 years, two similar Member’s Bills have been debated,she says. In 1995, Michael laws’ Bill was defeated by a wide margin. But Peter Brown’s Bill in 2003 was only very narrowly defeated.
“The situation has greatly changed since then,” comments Ms Street, “so this third time we will succeed.”
It is clear from the ‘headline’ court trials over this period, that judges (using the old law which criminalizes acts of mercy done by a family member) have used lesser and diminishing sentences in convicting such people as Lesley Martin, Sean Davison and Evans Mott.
The law is in a quandary over punishment or mercy.
The fear, which those who oppose the Bill use, is that people, especially the old and the disabled and the vulnerable will be forced by others into seeking early death. The Bill however has numerous safeguards to protect the dying person from such abuse and also to protect doctors and family members, who out of compassion, assist them to die.
In the words of Maryan Street: “This Bill is about self-determining adults being able to choose the moment and the method of their death. It is not set up in opposition to palliative care, which is a wonderful option.
“It is about people in these circumstances being able to make the hardest of choices, if they want to.”