Standing up for Vulnerable New Zealanders against the End of Life Choice Bill

LVNZ responds to statements by the Bill's sponsor

With the End of Life Choice Bill’s second reading now looming, LVNZ responds to various statements which the Bill’s sponsor, MP David Seymour, has recently made in a report and in recorded interviews and debates about the Bill.

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LVNZ responds to statements by the Bill's sponsor

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We are New Zealand lawyers and legal academics who have come together to express publicly our opposition to – and our very serious concerns about – the End of Life Choice Bill that is currently before the New Zealand Parliament.

We consider it our duty as lawyers to warn our Parliamentarians and all New Zealanders of the very serious risks that the Bill poses to the many vulnerable members of our community who may find themselves eligible for euthanasia or assisted suicide if the Bill passes into law.

We are unanimous in our view that the End of Life Choice Bill places our country’s most vulnerable citizens at greater risk of premature death, whether through misdiagnosis or prognostic error, or through coercion, abuse or neglect.

Sign our Open Statement

(and see list of signatories)

35 Fatal Flaws in the EOLC Bill

Legal Analyses of the EOLC Bill

“As a disabled person who has also worked in human rights law, I am deeply concerned at the lack of protection and safety mechanisms in place for at-risk groups such as disabled and indigenous Māori who already experience institutionalized racism and discrimination in the health system. The End of Life Choice Bill will only enforce this discrimination as we have not yet addressed this or the high suicide rates amongst Māori. Until we do, there is a real risk of any euthanasia and assisted suicide law going demonstrably wrong for these groups.”

Huhana Hickey (LVNZ Spokesperson)

Disability Rights Advocate, former Legal Academic and Human Rights Lawyer

“The most important responsibility of any government is to protect the lives of the governed. Under the proposed law, it is inevitable that some people will die through coercion or mistake. For those individuals, our government will have failed to fulfil its most fundamental duty; but those errors can never be reversed.”

Grant Illingworth QC

Public, Constitutional, Administrative, Commercial & Relationship Property Law

“I agree with the Disability Rights Commissioner’s position that the End of Life Choice Bill should not be passed into law, because it poses significant risks to disabled and vulnerable New Zealanders and its safeguards are procedurally and substantively deficient for New Zealanders suffering from both terminal and non-terminal conditions.”

Deborah Manning

Human Rights, Refugee, and Immigration Lawyer

“The End of Life Choice Bill has the potential to legitimise attempts by people such as relatives, and pro-euthanasia advocates to encourage, convince or even coerce vulnerable older New Zealanders into making decisions to end their own lives. For this reason alone, the End of Life Choice Bill should not be enacted.”

Ian McIntosh

Elder Law and Human Rights Law Commentator

“The End of Life Choice Bill will lead to the victimisation of vulnerable New Zealanders. Although its stated purpose is to offer choice to a small number of suffering people who are “not vulnerable”, it actually applies to large numbers of highly vulnerable New Zealanders who could find themselves eligible for euthanasia or assisted suicide. A right to die for a few Kiwis could very quickly become a duty to die for many others.”

Richard McLeod (LVNZ Spokesperson)

Human Rights, Refugee and Immigration Lawyer

“Any law to legalise ‘assisted dying’ must pass two tests. It must demonstrate that the existing law is defective; and, if (and only if) that is so, it must be constructed in such a way as to ensure that it does not put vulnerable people at risk of harm, including self-harm. In my view the End of Life Choice Bill does not pass either of these tests. As for the second test, the various claims which the Bill’s supporters have made that no vulnerable person will be coerced or pressured into euthanasia are unfounded – not only because of the hopelessly inadequate safeguards that are contained in the Bill itself, but given the mounting evidence of abuses in those jurisdictions which have passed similar laws. In any event, the UK courts have recently found that even a judicial inquiry would not provide a foolproof way to detect coercion or pressure in euthanasia cases. I therefore fail to see how New Zealand doctors could be expected to do any better, particularly given the extremely limited powers of inquiry which this Bill affords them.”

Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC LLD

Honorary Member of LVNZ

“From a criminal law perspective I have real concerns over how it will be possible to detect abuses that will occur around this legislation, quite apart from how abuses will be investigated and prosecuted.”

Professor Warren Brookbanks

Criminal law, Mental Health law and Criminal Justice expert