Monday, January 18, 2016

Thirteen Days to Go...

As part of preparing my submission on Physician Assisted Dying, I have spoken to quite a few people. (Not too many around here, I guess. I am in a residential village of some 350 people, some of whom might find any discussion a little sensitive....)

However, those I have talked to are almost unanimously enthusiastic about some relaxation of our present laws around assisted suicide in particular situations. When you get to our age, you are only too aware of the distressing nature of the final passage of life for a few people. And you probably have an enhanced sense of compassion for others who are going through what you may have to experience yourself some day. So many of us, who have no wish to end our lives right now, would like to have some kind of choice should our situation become unbearable and our pain unrelievable.

The disappointing thing is that hardly anyone I have spoken to intended to make a submission and offer their views. About a dozen asked to be associated with my submission and their names have gone forward. A small number of others have told me that have made submissions. But most seem to be leaving it to everyone else.

Even more disappointing is that the minority of New Zealanders who are really against any change in the law seem to be much better organised than those who have stuck their heads up above the parapet and called for change. On the Committee's website, you can see a lot of submissions that are as simple as "I am against any change in the laws about dying".

While I don't mind if others put up "I am in favour of assisted dying", neither is really a submission. Statements of this kind are really just opinions and the opinion polls have already declared that the majority of us want some change.

I hope that these last two weeks will see an increase in thoughtful, considered offerings, including examples from personal experience, so that the Committee will get a sense of the depth of thinking of the country rather than just a counting of heads "for" and "against". This is not a time for shouting loudly or for rallying mere numbers to the cause. It's a time for doing some deep recollection of our own experiences and some sound thinking around our understanding of the mystery that is life and the inevitability that is dying.

And then we need to pass our thoughts on to the Committee. 

Here's the simple procedure that Parliament uses.
Guidance on how to make a submission is here.

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