End of Life Choice Act 2019

  (Redirected from End of Life Choice Bill)

The End of Life Choice Act 2019 is an Act of Parliament in New Zealand that seeks to give people with a terminal illness the option of receiving assisted dying.[1] The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health confirmed that, "The Bill uses “assisted dying” to refer to both euthanasia and assisted suicide. Euthanasia refers to a patient being administered a lethal drug by a medical practitioner. Assisted suicide refers to a patient receiving lethal drugs at their request, which they take by themselves."[2]

End of Life Choice Act 2019
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand Parliament
Citation2019 No 67
Territorial extentNew Zealand
Enacted byHouse of Representatives
Passed13 November 2019
Royal assent16 November 2019
Commenced6 November 2021
Legislative history
BillEnd of Life Choice Bill
Bill citation269-3
Bill published on8 June 2017
Introduced byDavid Seymour
First reading13 December 2017
Second reading26 June 2019
Third reading13 November 2019
Status: Not yet in force

ACT New Zealand MP David Seymour entered it into the member's bill ballot on 14 October 2015.[3] The bill passed its first reading on 13 December 2017, with 76 votes in favour, 44 opposed; its second reading on 26 June 2019, with 70 votes in favour, 50 opposed;[4][5] and its third reading on 13 November 2019, with 69 votes in favour, 51 opposed.[6]

A binding referendum was held in conjunction with the 17 October 2020 general election on whether the Act should come into force,[7] with a majority of voters voting in favour of the Act.[8] The result of the referendum means that the Act will come into force on 6 November 2021, 12 months after the official result was declared.[9]

Contents of the billEdit

Eligibility for assisted dyingEdit

Anyone may request assisted dying,[10] but a person may receive it only if an attending medical practitioner[11] and an independent medical practitioner[12] confirmed that the person meets all of the following eligibility criteria:[13]

  • They must be a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand.
  • They must be aged 18 years or over.
  • They must suffer from a terminal illness that is likely to end their life within 6 months.
  • They must be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability.
  • They must experience unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that they consider tolerable.[14]
  • They must be able to make an informed decision about assisted dying. An "informed decision" is defined using the following criteria:[15]
    • They must understand information about assisted dying.
    • They must retain information about assisted dying in order to make the decision.
    • They must use or weigh up information about assisted dying when making their decision.
    • They must communicate their decision in some way.

Process of assisted dyingEdit

A person who wishes to have an assisted death must inform an attending medical practitioner. The medical practitioner must complete a prescribed form after talking to the patient about the prognosis of their illness; the irreversible nature of assisted dying and its impacts; and alternative options for end-of-life care. The doctor needs to encourage the person to discuss their wish with others, but the doctor also needs to tell the person that they don't have to discuss it with anyone.[16]

The attending medical practitioner needs to "do their best to ensure that the person expresses their wish free from pressure from any other person". The doctor must do this by talking with other health practitioners who are in regular contact with the person and with family members approved by the person.[17] If this doctor (or a nurse practitioner) suspects that a person "is not expressing their wish free from pressure from any other person", the process must be stopped.[18]

The person must confirm their request by signing and dating a prescribed form in the presence of this practitioner. The second part of the form may be signed by someone else if the person cannot write for any reason.[19]

Once the form has been completed the attending medical practitioner, and following that an independent medical practitioner, must confirm whether the person meets the eligibility criteria. If one or both medical practitioners are unsure about the person's mental competency, a psychiatrist must confirm whether the person is competent. specialist appointed by the SCENZ Group (Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand Group). If eligible, the person can choose the date and method of administration[20] of the lethal dose of medication. Once the medication has been administered the attending medical practitioner must complete a prescribed form notifying the registrar at the Ministry of Health that an assisted death has occurred. The registrar must then forward the form to a review committee.

Comparison with other jurisdictionsEdit

  • The End of Life Choice Act allows assisted suicide and euthanasia,[21] like Canada and Western Australia, The US laws allow only self-administration of the lethal dose (assisted suicide). Victoria allows euthanasia only if the person is unable to administer it themselves.
  • The person needs to initiate one request,[22] which is confirmed in writing.[23] The nine US assisted suicide laws, based on Oregon's Death With Dignity Act,[24] require three requests: an oral request, a written request and a second oral request.
  • No independent witnesses are required when the request is confirmed in writing.[25] In contrast, two witnesses are required in addition to the medical practitioner in Victoria (Australia),[26] Western Australia,[27] Canada,[28] and the nine US assisted suicide laws.
  • No witness is required when the attending medical practitioner or nurse practitioner asks the person whether they still wish to receive the dose at that time.[29] In Victoria a witness is required at this point.[30]
  • No witness is required when the attending medical practitioner or nurse practitioner provides or administers the lethal dose immediately afterwards.[31] In Victoria a witness is required at this point.[32]
  • No cooling-off period is required before the lethal dose is prescribed. Hawaii requires a waiting period of at least 20 days between the first and third request. The other eight US laws require at least 15 days between the first and third request. Victoria and Western Australia require at least nine days. Canada requires at least 10 days. Oregon's law was changed in 2019 to allow the waiting period to be waived if the person is expected to die within this period. In Canada and Victoria the waiting period is also waived if the person is expected to die or lose mental competency within this period.
  • Only one person, the attending medical practitioner, needs to confirm that the person is making a voluntary request.[33] In Oregon, both doctors need to verify "that the patient is capable, acting voluntarily and has made an informed decision".[34] The other eight US laws have similar requirements.
  • While New Zealand citizenship or permanent residence is required, physical residence in New Zealand is not required.[35] The US and Australian assisted dying laws require ordinary (physical) residence in addition to citizenship or permanent residence.
  • Coercion by someone other than a medical practitioner is not an offence.[36] Coercion is a punishable offence in Oregon and similar US laws.[37]

Legislative historyEdit

First ReadingEdit

Voting at first reading (13 December 2017)[38]
Party Voted for Voted against
National (56)
Labour (46)
NZ First (9)
Green (8)
ACT (1)
Totals 76 44

Justice Select CommitteeEdit

Written submissions to the Justice Select Committee on the End of Life Choice Bill were received until midnight on 6 March 2018.[39] The committee reported on the Bill on 9 April 2019.[40]

Second ReadingEdit

Voting at second reading (26 June 2019)[41]
Party Voted for Voted against
National (55)
Labour (46)
NZ First (9)
Green (8)
ACT (1)
Independent (1)
Totals 70 50

12 MPs changed positions between the first and second readings. From Labour, Allan, Russell, Rurawhe, Whaitiri and Wood changed from voting for to voting against, while Williams voted for having previously opposed the bill. From National, Guy, Hipango, Tolley and Walker changed from for to against, while Collins and Yule decided to reverse their opposition. Five National MPs had entered Parliament since the first reading but had no net effect on the result- Willis (for) replaced Joyce (against) which was cancelled out by Bidois (against) replacing Coleman (for).[41]

Committee of the Whole HouseEdit

The Committee of the Whole House started on 31 July 2019. An amendment by David Seymour that limited eligibility to only those with a terminal illness was agreed to. Other amendments put forward by opponents of the bill were rejected.[42]

The End of Life Choice Bill was debated again on 21 August 2019. Parliament voted to accept Seymour's second round of amendments by a vote of 69 to 51. Key amendments include prohibiting a health practitioner from initiating any discussion about assisted dying, giving employment protections for any doctor, nurse, or psychiatrist who objects to taking part in the process on any ground, and a provision for doctors and nurses to stop the process if they suspect any pressure is being applied on the person seeking assisted dying. The amendments by MPs opposed to the bill including National MPs Maggie Barry, Paulo Garcia, Simeon Brown, and Chris Penk were defeated during the debate. Penk's proposal to have tighter provisions against coercion including getting a "sign-off" from a specialist panel was defeated by 71 to 49 votes. MPs also voted 70 to 50 in favour of the End of Life Choice Bill being given a third and final reading later.[43][44][45]

Proposed referendumEdit

On 23 October 2019, the New Zealand Parliament voted by a margin of 63 to 57 to amend the End of Life Choice Bill to include a binding referendum on whether the End of Life Choice Act 2019 should come into force.[46] New Zealand First Member of Parliament Jenny Marcroft proposed an amendment to include a referendum on the grounds that euthanasia "directly affected the fabric of society" and that "temporarily empowered politicians... alone should not decide on the bill." In response, Labour Member of Parliament Louisa Wall criticised NZ First for placing MPs who supported the bill but opposed the referendum in an "untenable position." She also accused NZ First of using the proposed referendum as a bargaining chip for securing the party's support for the third reading of the End of Life Choice Bill scheduled for November 2019.[47][48]

Parliamentary vote on Jenny Marcroft's amendment for a referendum on the End of Life Choice Bill [46]
Party Voted for Voted against
National (55)
Labour (46)
NZ First (9)
Green (8)
ACT (1)
Independent (1)
Totals 63 57

Third ReadingEdit

On 13 November 2019, the End of Life Choice bill passed its third reading 69 votes in favour and 51 votes opposed. The Bill is being prepared for royal assent.[6][49] In return for New Zealand First's support of the bill through its third reading, the Bill will be decided by the public in a binding referendum at the 2020 New Zealand general election.[7] The End of Life Choice Bill was also amended to only allow a person with "a terminal illness that is likely to end the person's life within six months" to request euthanasia. While Seymour disagreed with the legislation, he supported the amendment in order to maintain the support of the Green Party and several other MPs for a third reading.[50][51]

Voting at third reading (13 November 2019)[49]
Party Voted for Voted against
National (55)
Labour (46)
NZ First (9)
Green (8)
ACT (1)
Independent (1)
Totals 69 51

2020 Euthanasia referendumEdit

A binding referendum on euthanasia was held alongside the 2020 New Zealand general election and the 2020 New Zealand cannabis referendum on 17 October 2020. Preliminary results for the two referendums were released by the Electoral Commission on 30 October.[52] These preliminary results found 65.2% of people in support of the End of Life Choice Act with 33.8% opposed.[53]

Following the counting of the 480,000 special votes, official results for the general election and referendums were released on 6 November. Based on the final results, 65.1% of people supported the legislation while 33.7% opposed it.[8]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "End of Life Choice Bill (as at 23 October 2019), Explanatory note". New Zealand Legislation: Bills. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health, Departmental Report - New Zealand Parliament". www.parliament.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  3. ^ Seymour, David. "Seymour lodges assisted dying Bill" (Press release). ACT New Zealand. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Euthanasia bill passes second reading". New Zealand Herald. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Euthanasia bill passes second reading in Parliament". Radio New Zealand. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  6. ^ a b Henry Cooke (13 November 2019). "MPs vote in favour of End of Life Choice Bill at final reading". Stuff. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Euthanasia bill passes final vote, goes to referendum". The New Zealand Herald. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Official referendum results released | Elections". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Euthanasia referendum expected to pass in initial vote count - Catherine Marks". Radio New Zealand. 30 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  10. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 11 Request made – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  11. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 13 First opinion to be given by attending medical practitioner – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  12. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 14 Second opinion to be given by independent medical practitioner – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  13. ^ "End of Life Choice referendum". Referendums.govt.nz. New Zealand Government. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  14. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 5 Meaning of person who is eligible for assisted dying or eligible person – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  15. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 6 Meaning of competent to make an informed decision about assisted dying – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  16. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 11 Request made – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  17. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 11 Request made – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  18. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 24 No further action to be taken if pressure suspected – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  19. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 12 Request confirmed – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  20. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 18 Eligible person to choose date and time for administration of medication – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  21. ^ "Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health, Departmental Report - New Zealand Parliament". www.parliament.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  22. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 11 Request made – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  23. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 12 Request confirmed – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  24. ^ "Oregon Health Authority : Oregon Revised Statute: Oregon's Death with Dignity Act : Death with Dignity Act : State of Oregon". www.oregon.gov. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  25. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 12 Request confirmed – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  26. ^ Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (No. 61 of 2017), retrieved 11 October 2020
  27. ^ "Western Australian Legislation - Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 - All Versions". www.legislation.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  28. ^ Branch, Legislative Services (15 November 2019). "Consolidated federal laws of canada, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying)". laws-lois.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  29. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 20 Administration of medication – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  30. ^ Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (No. 61 of 2017), retrieved 11 October 2020
  31. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 20 Administration of medication – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  32. ^ Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (No. 61 of 2017), retrieved 11 October 2020
  33. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 11 Request made – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  34. ^ "Oregon Health Authority : Oregon Revised Statute: Oregon's Death with Dignity Act : Death with Dignity Act : State of Oregon". www.oregon.gov. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  35. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 5 Meaning of person who is eligible for assisted dying or eligible person – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  36. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 39 Offences – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  37. ^ "Oregon Health Authority : Oregon Revised Statute: Oregon's Death with Dignity Act : Death with Dignity Act : State of Oregon". www.oregon.gov. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  38. ^ "Euthanasia bill passes first reading in Parliament". The New Zealand Herald. 17 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  39. ^ Hogan, Finn (6 March 2018). "Submissions close at midnight for controversial End of Life Choice Bill". Newshub. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  40. ^ "End of Life Choice Bill: Bill History". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  41. ^ a b Cooke, Henry (26 June 2019). "Euthanasia bill passes second reading". Stuff. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  42. ^ "End of Life Choice Bill- In Committee". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  43. ^ Jancic, Boris (22 August 2019). "Euthanasia bill marches forward as Parliament debates coercion". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  44. ^ "MPs back euthanasia bill revisions: 'This is to alleviate concerns' — David Seymour". Radio New Zealand. 22 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  45. ^ Cooke, Henry (21 August 2019). "Euthanasia: Safeguards against coercion inserted into David Seymour's proposed bill". Stuff. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  46. ^ a b "End of Life Choice Bill — In Committee—Clauses 1 and 2". New Zealand Parliament. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  47. ^ Jancic, Boris (23 October 2019). "Euthanasia bill to go to referendum after knife-edge vote in Parliament". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  48. ^ Cooke, Henry (23 October 2019). "Euthanasia referendum on the cards after tight vote in Parliament". Stuff. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  49. ^ a b "End of Life Choice Bill — Third Reading". New Zealand Parliament. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  50. ^ Cook, Henry (31 July 2019). "David Seymour narrows euthanasia bill to only cover patients with 6 months to live". Stuff. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  51. ^ Jancic, Boris (14 November 2019). "End of Life Choice Bill passes: What it means". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  52. ^ "New Zealand euthanasia: Assisted dying to be legal for terminally ill people". BBC News. 30 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  53. ^ "Referendum preliminary results: Yes to euthanasia reform, no to cannabis". Radio New Zealand. 30 October 2020. Archived from the original on 5 November 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.

External linksEdit