Sir Bill English claimed at the debate in Queenstown earlier this week, that killing was okay if you had a reason and it was subject to scrutiny.
But the end of life choice bill he said, removed that scrutiny. Absolute rubbish! as anyone would acknowledge having actually read the Bill. I refer to clause 8, when the first request is made, and the doctor to whom it is made must raise no fewer than eight separate subjects, and record the actions taken to comply with this Clause. Under clause 10 the doctor now has to refer to clause 4 to determine whether the applicant is eligible. The reasons for finding either in favour or not must be recorded. Then under clause 11 a second doctor, name supplied independently by SCENZ, must do the same examination as the first doctor. Again, the reasons for the decision must be recorded. If either of these has any question as to mental capacity of the applicant, under section clause 12 a third opinion must be sought. As if all of this was not enough scrutiny of the applicant, now the scrutiny starts on the work of the doctors. If both doctors are in agreement that the applicant is eligible, all of the paperwork is subject to the scrutiny of the Registrar (Assisted Dying). This is a new Ministry of Health position set up under clause 21. This person will have the ultimate control over whether euthanasia takes place or not, because after the doctor has written the appropriate prescription, under Clause 15 it must be supplied to the Registrar (Assisted Dying). If the registrar finds that all the requirements of the legislation have been met, the prescription will be countersigned by the registrar. Only then can it be filled by the pharmacist. When the death is reported, under clause 17 the registrar must complete a very detailed report, and send it to the Review committee. This is a new body set up under clause 20. It’s function is to review the report from the registrar of every death which takes place, and to report to the registrar about its satisfaction or otherwise with the cases reported. It can also recommend actions that the registrar may take to follow-up any cases with which the review committee was not satisfied. Under Clause 21 the registrar must also establish and maintain a procedure to deal with complaints about breaches of the Act. Finally, the Registrar reports to the Minister annually. I recommend Sir William read the details of this report in clause 21 ( 5 ).
Given all of the above, it really saddens me that a respected man like Sir William would make statements which are so easily refuted by the facts. It leads to the conclusion that this misinformation was intended to create alarm. Sir William could perhaps have been a little more honest about the influence of his own religion in what he had to say in Queenstown.
Dianne Cooper has long been a supporter of voluntary euthanasia, as was her mother, Celia Cooper, of Auckland. Dianne lives at Waikanae, on the Kapiti Coast. Writing is her main contribution to the campaign to get the End of Life Choice Bill into law.