NZ inquiry does not recommend changing laws

Parliament House, Wellington, NZ (Wikimedia/Michal Klajban)

The New Zealand parliament's largest-ever inquiry into voluntary euthanasia has not recommended that the government makes it legal, the NZ Herald reports.

The Health Committee's report on a petition by former Labour MP and assisted dying advocate Maryan Street was tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

The two-year inquiry heard from 22,000 submitters, including 1000 of them in person. The petition was signed by nearly 9000 people and asked for a full investigation into public attitudes to medically-assisted dying for people with a terminal or irreversible condition. It also asked for a change to the existing law.

Committee chairman Simon O'Connor said the report did not make any formal recommendations to the government about whether euthanasia should be legalised. It instead provided a summary of the arguments for and against assisted dying.

"We've tried to distil all the arguments and our recommendation to both the parliament and the people of New Zealand is to read this report and come to a deeper understanding of what's been asked around assisted suicide and euthanasia."

Mr O'Connor said that in his personal view, the report did not indicate that assisted dying should be legalised.

"As I look at it myself, the arguments are quite compelling that while we understand why people ask for this, it's equally an issue for public safety and not a prudent step to make."

Between 75 and 80 per cent of the submissions were opposed to legalising voluntary euthanasia and the rest wanted a law change.

"But I don't think this is simply a numbers game," Mr O'Connor said. "It is about actually understanding the arguments for and against and making a decision about which ones are correct."

He said the main argument against a legal euthanasia regime was public safety.

"It is very difficult to see how there could be sufficient safeguards to actually protect vulnerable people in New Zealand. And that's been the experience overseas as well.

"It probably comes down to the simple question of 'How many errors would parliament would be willing to accept in this space?'"


Major inquiry on voluntary euthanasia does not recommend law change (NZ Herald)


Assisted dying: Labour MPs 'absolutely furious' after pro-lifers target marginals (The Age)

Doubt over push for Victorian euthanasia vote (The Australian)

Euthanasia responsible for 4.5 per cent of deaths in the Netherlands (Catholic Herald)

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