Yesterday the cross-party Inquiry into legalising assisted death in the State delivered a revolutionary report to Parliament. The Committee has made some 49 recommendations and at least two members acknowledged that evaluating nearly 900 submissions had changed their point of view on the issue.
One of the clinchers was that Coroners reported that increasing numbers of terminally ill Australians "are committing suicide in horrific and terrible ways" ... "in the shadow of the law" while they are still able to. The implication is that some of those who committed suicide in Australia would not have done this had they known another choice could be available to them. Certainly, evidence from countries where assisted dying is legal suggested to the Victoria Inquiry (members travelled to several countries) that half of those who obtain a prescription do not use it but live more comfortably and confidently because they have the means if they need it.
That is what choice is all about. That is the option I think we should move towards in NZ. The reasons and the evidence are as relevant for this country as for Victoria.
But I note that the Aussie Inquiry took some ten months and had only 900 submissions. I wonder when our Health Select Committee will get through ten or more thousand submissions.