Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Euthanasia bill won't be put in ballot - Labour MP Louisa Wall

Labour MP Louisa Wall says her proposed law change to legalise assisted dying in New Zealand will not go into the private member's bill ballot.

Instead, she hopes her Authorised Dying Bill would inform Parliament of an alternative way to proceed with voluntary euthanasia.

In a rare move for a sitting MP, Wall tabled the proposed bill yesterday at a select committee which is considering public attitudes to euthanasia in New Zealand.

READ MORE: A voice for the dying

The move risked upsetting her party. Labour leader Andrew Little has previously warned another Labour MP, Iain Lees-Galloway, against putting a euthanasia-related bill in the ballot, saying he wanted the party to focus on greater priorities.

Wall clarified yesterday that the bill would not go in the ballot and said she had made her submission with the backing of her caucus.

The bill would allow terminally people with 12 months to live to apply to an ethics committee to get access to assisted dying.

Only the patient could apply to the committee, which would be made up of experts from medical, psychiatric, ethics, Maori tikanga, disability, elderly care, and legal fields.

Parliament has now been offered three bills from various parties for legalising euthanasia.

Act Party leader David Seymour has drafted a bill which would help people with six months to live to get access to assisted dying.

Former Labour Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer has proposed an amendment to the Crimes Act which would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients to die if specific conditions were met in the Family Court.

None of the three bills have any certainty of being debated. Seymour's bill is in the private member's bill ballot, and may never be drawn. Wall and Sir Geoffrey's bills are only proposals for Parliament to consider.

The National-led Government has already said it will not change the law even if the select committee considering the matter recommends that assisted dying should be legalised.

Prime Minister John Key says he supports voluntary euthanasia, but there are many in his Cabinet who do not. Labour leader Andrew Little also wants a change, though it would not be a priority for a Labour Government which he leads.

Nevertheless, Wall's bill was welcomed by proponents of a law change.

Matt Vickers, the widower of Lecretia Seales, said it was great to see an MP from one of the two major political parties championing the issue.

Vickers said there was now "a great deal of forward momentum" behind a legislative change.

"We're hopeful we'll see legislation before the House very soon."

Seales, a Wellington lawyer, died aged 42 last year of a brain tumour, soon after a High Court judge rejected her bid for the legal right to help her end her life.

Wall, whose Marriage Equality Bill was drawn from the ballot and changed the law, said her bill was prompted by Seales' situation.

- NZ Herald

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