Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
Maryan Street's Report on Petition Presentation to Parliament on 23/06/15
The Select Committee Chairperson - Simon O'Connor has since acknowledge receiving the petition. As soon as further information on dates for the process are available, we will show them.
The petition was signed by 8975 people. (There were a further 100 signatures received after the closing date and couldn't be counted).
The weather was threatening to rain on our parade, but in the end it didn't and the sun even shone for a moment. On Tuesday 23 June at 11.30am a group of VES members and supporters assembled by the Dick Seddon statue at Parliament to present our petition to a cross-party group of MPs. We had 8975 signatures (not counting the extra 100 which had come in late!) in a large box taped up with an End of a Life Choice banner.
Maryan Street welcomed everybody and proceeded to outline the importance of this petition, which seeks a select committee enquiry into public attitudes towards assisted dying. In the wake of Lecretia Seales' efforts in the High Court recently, which resulted in the judge sending the issue back to Parliament for decisive action, it was a most appropriate next step in getting to a compassionate law.
Maryan then handed the microphone over to Matt Vickers, the widower of Lecretia Seales, to speak. He did so eloquently and most movingly. People were surprised and delighted to see him there. His presence was a media magnet and while all media were present, it was mostly print media which carried the story throughout the day, with some TV coverage happening on the late news that night. But there was a lot of coverage online and via social media.
The petition was presented by Maryan and Matt to four MPs: Iain Lees-Galloway (Labour), Chris Bishop (National), Kevin Hague (Greens) and David Seymour (Act). All four MPs spoke, each of them pledging their support for the issue. David Seymour is in the process of preparing a bill based on the existing EOLC Bill to put in the ballot as soon as practicable.
At 2pm that day our petition was introduced to the House - that means that the Clerk read it out before Question Time. It was then referred to the Health Select Committee. They considered it the very next day and agreed to hold the requested enquiry. They could have said they would not deal with it; they could have said they would take submissions only from the petitioner; but they have done the right thing and agreed to hold an enquiry.
This is all very good news.
Now we must prepare submissions from individuals and groups to present or send to the committee. Submissions can be done electronically and can be as long or as short as the submitter likes. People can ask to appear before the committee but you can also say that you do not want to appear. MPs will still receive your submission.
In the very near future as the committee's timetable is made clear, VES will send out details of how to write a submission and exactly whom to send it to. This is indeed Lecretia's legacy and the start of informing MPs of the facts, research and practice around assisted dying. This is our best chance to get everything in front of the public and the MPs. If a bill is produced while this process is in train, well and good. The processes can run simultaneously.
We now move into our next phase of activity!
The ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2015 was held at Hamilton Airport Hotel Conference Centre, Hamilton Airport on 20 June. The day was very successful and well attended. Members and the public heard reports and presentations by Dr Jack Havill (President), Pete Cowley (Treasurer), Maryan Street, David Seymour MP, Phillipa Malpas and Sande Ramage
Lecretia Seales believed ill people enduring intolerable suffering with no hope of recovery should have the choice to request assistance to end their lives.
You Can Help
If you or a loved one were afflicted with a terminal illness, and were facing prolonged agony and suffering, with no hope of recovery, what decisions would you want to be able to make? What choices would you want to have?
Lecretia pursued compassion through the courts, she didn't receive a favourable ruling. What about you and the ones you love? What about people that don’t have the resources to petition the courts? Shouldn’t our laws provide a way for our suffering, terminally ill citizens to take control of the manner in which they die, without requiring them to take legal action?
If you believe that terminally ill New Zealanders in pain or suffering should be able to choose how and when they end their lives, there are a number of things you can do to help:
Spread the Word
We really appreciate your attention and interest. If you haven’t already, please like Lecretia’s Facebook page. But the most effective thing you can do is to share Lecretia’s Facebook page to your own timeline by clicking the Share link below, to share Lecretia’s story with your friends. The more people that are aware of the issue, and the more informed their opinions, the more likely we are to have a quality national debate about end-of-life care and death with dignity.
Write to Party Leaders
Since Andrew Little buried Ian Lees-Galloway’s End of Life Choice Bill and some parties are actively forbidding their MPs from doing so.
David Seymour MP has taken responsibility for reviewing a right to die bill.
One of the most powerful things you can do is to write to your favoured party leader to tell them how important this issue is to you, and why. If you have seen a family member suffer unnecessarily, or have concerns of your own about how you will experience end-of-life care, please tell your favoured party leader about it. Let them know you care about their views and support for end-of-life choice. Let them know that your vote is contingent on them listening.
In "News", you'll find YouTube links to one of Dr Rob Jonquière's presentations.
Here are some recently published, useful and interesting statistics on what the New Zealand public think about Physician-assisted dying (PAD). This was published Dec 2014 by an Auckland University group in a distinguished Palliative Care Journal USA. As you will see, the results show the high value respondents place on patient autonomy with regards to End-of-Life Choices, and 82% want legalisation of PAD.
Guide to Dying- Your Way
When thinking about dying, it’s easy to forget that you may be in a situation where you are unable to speak for yourself, unable to communicate what you do and don’t want – for example, after a head injury, stroke or heart attack – or you may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other health issues that could alter your quality of life.
An Advance Directive specifies what you do and don’t want, written down, witnessed and signed. You can purchase our Guide to complete your AD for healthcare here: Purchase Advance Directives
The Hon. Maryan Street, MP, Labour, sponsored the End-Of-Life Choice Bill. It includes safeguards for aid-in-dying, such as:
Protection from prosecution for doctors and family members
Requires patients to submit 2 written requests for the medication.
The participation of 2 doctors
Such safeguards insure that the law is used as it is intended, and is accessible to those who qualify.
View the Bill here:
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