27 Aug 2015

Right to die inquiry will have few limits

3:33 pm on 27 August 2015

The chair of Parliament's Health Committee says he wants to have as broad a discussion as possible about a person's right to end their own life, so has set very few restrictions on the scope of an inquiry.

The inquiry was launched in response to a petition calling for a law change to permit medically-assisted dying in the event of terminal illness or other circumstances.

The petition from former Labour MP, Maryan Street, asks that Parliament; "investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable".

Former Labour MP Maryan Street

Former Labour MP Maryan Street. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The terms of reference include:

  • The factors that contribute to the desire to end one's life
  • The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives
  • The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one's life, and the current legal situation
  • International experiences

Committee chair, National's Simon O'Connor, said there were few limitations on what the committee would consider. He has encouraged everyone with a view on the matter to make a submission to the committee.

"The petitioners are requesting changes to laws that would make it possible for people to end their lives, or have others do so, under certain conditions."

Formal submissions close in February 2016, but the committee is likely to start hearing from people and organisations before that time.

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