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End of Life Choice Bill
it is not pleasant to talk about painful death, but when our country's laws do not work, it is incumbent upon us to have that discussion. Our laws surrounding end of life choice currently do not work and we must improve them. Let me explain why that is, using the people in this room. There are 120 of us here, and we can reasonably hope that the vast majority of us will live long lives and die easy, painless deaths. Sadly, some of us will get ill. Our illnesses may well turn out to be terminal, but we will be helped by palliative care to die comfortably, none the less. That leaves maybe half a dozen of us here who will die badly. Those half a dozen represent the 3 percent or the 4 percent who might seek an assisted death under this bill based on experience in countries where such legislation is in place, and based on the choices that New Zealanders currently make. Any one of us in this Parliament could find ourselves facing that situation. I'm afraid to say that the options we would face in that situation are cruel. A person at the end of their life, suffering badly and unable to be helped by palliative care, can commit amateur violent suicide. We know from extensive studies of the coronial records of this country that 5 percent to 8 percent of New Zealand's suicides were by people who were dying and wanted to take control of the end of their life. They didn't want to die. They weren't depressed. They weren't suicidal, but they knew what was coming and they wanted control. One such person was Martin Hames. He was a staff member here in Parliament. He had Huntington's disease and he killed himself. The only mercy was that he botched it and lived on for several days because that way he got to say goodbye to loved ones that he was not allowed even to tell what he was going to do under our current laws. The tragedy is that he did it many years before he would've liked to because he knew his capability was declining, and our current laws require him not to be assisted.
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