In her submission, Tesoreiro labelled the End of Life Choice Bill a “risk” to the disabled.
Not only does she have no evidence for the claim that the Bill represents such a risk, but there is actually evidence to the contrary for her assertion. In jurisdictions where assisted dying has been permitted for two decades, the disabled are not over-represented among those who have successfully sought medical help to hasten their death.
The safeguards and processes in these countries very closely resemble those described in the Seymour End of Life Choice Bill, so the question should be posed: If they are sufficient to protect the disabled in those countries, why would they not protect them in our country?
Otago University’s PhD candidate Jessica Young recently publicised the work done by herself and a group of researchers into a longitudinal study of New Zealanders’ attitudes into assisted dying. In 20 years of surveys, opinion has changed little: about 70% support some form of voluntary euthanasia.
However, she identified two important gaps in the data. Specifically, those approaching the end of life had not been surveyed regarding their attitudes and neither had the disabled.
This gap in the information needs urgently to be filled so that Ms Tesoreiro’s claims can be given their proper weighting.
In the interests of getting it right, the Justice select committee could and should commission such a survey.
Ann David is a retired human resources professional living in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast. She has been a campaigner for the right to die with dignity for the past 15 years, initially in Australia and since 2009, in New Zealand. She is a member of the End of Life Choice Society and of the NZARH.