Thankfully, most MPs have some legal training and can understand the meaning of the word “and” in a legal document. It means the same in Legal-Eagle as it does in the English vernacular – i.e. also, in addition to.
But that is overlooked by some opponents of assisted dying who claim that the eligibility criterion “grievous and irremediable” is “wide open to interpretation”. It isn’t. It’s very specific because it comes with a raft of sub-clauses that must be simultaneously present for the “grievous and irremediable medical condition” clause to have effect.
It goes like this when describing who is eligible for assisted dying; (Bullet points and underlining mine but words copied identically from the Bill):
- suffers from a terminal illness that is likely to end his or her life within 6 months or a grievous and irremediable medical condition, and
- is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, and
- experiences unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that he or she considers tolerable, and
- has the ability to understand the nature of assisted dying, and
- the consequences for him or her of assisted dying.
Cutely, they limit their quote only to the words “grievous and irremediable” and when it stands on its own, and when an unsuspecting reader doesn’t know that it must be read in conjunction with its sub-clauses, it could indeed sound rather broad.
Many Acts contain lists of eligibility criteria. For example, to be eligible to vote in a general election in New Zealand, a person must be over the age of 18 and a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident and enrolled to vote. All three eligibility criteria must be present simultaneously. Lawmakers indicate this by using the word “and”.
Which part of “and” don’t they understand?