Euthanasia bill ‘not workable in its present state’ - Committee

National MP Maggie Barry sat on the justice committee which heard submissions over 15 months. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

Parliament's justice committee has reported its findings on the End of Life Choice Bill, saying it could not agree on "many substantial issues" and that the bill is "not workable in its current state".

The committee has reported its findings on the euthanasia legislation back to the House this afternoon, after hearing 15 months' worth of submissions.

Nearly 38,000 submissions were heard by MPs on the End of Life Choice Bill which would allow assisted dying for those terminally ill, likely to die within six months and experiencing "unbearable suffering".

Read the full report here

The report said the eight members of this committee held "diverse views".

"We decided to report the bill back with minor, technical, and consequential amendments only. We leave it to the full membership of the House to resolve the broader policy matters."

ACT Leader David Seymour, the MP in charge of the bill, said the changes would include:

  •   •  Aligning the bill with existing legislation and regulations

  •   •  Strengthening the complaints process by explicitly including options for the registrar to refer cases to the police, health and disability commissioner, coroner, or other authority.

  •   •  Making explicit stating that if coercion is suspected at any point in the process the person becomes ineligible for assisted dying.

  •   •  Making explicit stating that life insurance contracts must be valid in the case of an assisted death.

The report said that 90 percent of the 36,700 written submissions opposed the bill.

"We note that the majority of written submissions discussed only whether assisted dying should be allowed in principle."

The Bill is likely to come back for a second reading next month and MPs will cast a conscience vote - following their personal views rather than a party line.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she will be voting in favour.

"I understand those deeply held convictions that means they'll be opposed to it. My view is the best way that I can allow people to make their own decisions is actually giving them access to that choice."

It's still not clear whether the bill will have enough support once it returns to Parliament.

National MP Maggie Barry sat on the committee and said earlier today she thought political opposition to the bill may have hardened after the lengthy, and often harrowing, consultation period.

"As is often the case Members of Parliament will vote something through to the first reading so that there can be a discussion, a select committee process, and this has been a long one.

"By hearing all the people that asked to be heard there has been a very robust engagement with the public of New Zealand."

People from New Zealand's Pacific communities rallied at Parliament against the bill today, saying the legislation compounded poor health outcomes for the Pacific community.

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