17 Aug 2018

Disabilities Commissioner concerned about End of Life Choice bill

1:51 pm on 17 August 2018

The Disabilities Commissioner says the End of Life Choice Bill is too broad to protect disabled New Zealanders.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero. Photo: Supplied.

The Justice Select Committee has neared the end of a nationwide tour, after hearing 3500 verbal and 35,000 written submissions.

Yesterday, lawyer Julian Gardner and disability advocate Tricia Malowney, who were members of the advisory panel which was convened before Victoria legalised assisted dying for the terminally ill, said https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018658341/proposed-euthanasia-bill-in-nz-needs-tweaking

New Zealand's bill needed tweaking.]

Disabilities Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said the Victorian legislation is only for those who have a terminal condition, which is likely to cause your death between six months and in some cases 12 months.

"In New Zealand that's not the case, there's no timeframe for a grievous and irremediable medical condition," she said.

Ms Tesoriero said added safeguards in the legislation were woefully deficient.

"A person under the bill could easily meet the threshold, but could be profoundly affected by things like depression or other factors, there's no requirement for the physician to consider conditions that might affect the person's judgement or decision making," she said.

As a result, she feared it would undermine the position of disabled people.

She said this discussion is taking place at a time where access to health services for disabled people and health outcomes are not where they need to be.

"Disabled people are facing a real range of stigma and discrimination, which means there is a risk for this bill that it will be a Clayton's Choice for disabled people," she said.

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