Proposed amendments could push euthanasia bill well into next year in New Zealand

National MP Maggie Barry and Act Party leader David Seymour stand at opposite ends of the spectrum for Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill. Photo / Bevan Conley. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

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WELLINGTON, Jun 23, 2019, NZ Herald. MPs opposing a bill that would legalise euthanasia are planning to put up more than 100 amendments that could push its possible passage well into next year. But Act leader David Seymour, whose End of Life Choice bill is expected to have a second reading on Wednesday, says “wasting Parliament’s time” could backfire and firm up MPs’ support for the bill, reported the NZ Herald.

Seymour is confident a majority of MPs will support the bill’s second reading, which is a conscience vote but has the conditional support of the Greens and New Zealand First, as long as certain amendments are adopted.

But opponents, led by National MP Maggie Barry, believe the vote will go to the wire.

A vote may take place late on Wednesday evening, but if there is not enough time, the next day the vote could happen is on the next members’ day on July 31.

As currently drafted, the bill would allow New Zealanders to request assisted dying if they have a terminal illness or suffer from “a grievous and irremediable medical condition”.

If it passes the second reading, Seymour has promised to amend it in its clause-by-clause committee stages to limit euthanasia only to people who have “a terminal illness that is likely to end the person’s life within six months”, and to state that age, disability or mental illness cannot be reasons to grant consent.

But Barry also has proposed amendments – about 120 of them – that could push the bill’s possible passage into the middle of next year.

She said the amendments were not filibustering, but genuine changes to improve the bill.

“These aren’t things that we’re just dreaming up, like changing the name of the bill or putting a comma in here, none of that nonsense,” Barry said.

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