Seymour begins his fight for End of Life Choice Bill
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ACT’s leader and sole MP David Seymour launched a private member’s bill today that is intended to “give people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting medical aid in dying.”
Although he tells NBR Radio his End of Life Choice Bill “fits very tightly with the ACT Party’s values and principles – we believe in self-determination, we believe in choice and we believe you should be able to make choices under the rule of law,” Mr Seymour also admits it’s a tough issue and it’s taken him “all year to come around to this. I started off at the end of last year looking into it out of curiosity, being somewhat sceptical.”
In the interim, however, he says his research has convinced him that opponents of such assisted dying legislation “are dishonest at best and the case for this law is compelling.”
He can also point to a 2800-person poll conducted by David Farrar, the PM’s personal pollster, that shows a groundswell of support for such a law change, with 66% of respondents in favour, 20% against, 10% neutral and 2% unsure.
“In polling terms that’s an extremely high level of support," he notes.
Mr Seymour also believes the chance of it passing is increased by the rigor of the “exhaustive” checks and balances the bill requires if someone is to qualify for assistance in dying, as well as international experience that indicates the average shortening of life under assisted dying is estimated at 10 days – in other words, “it’s about reducing the most acute suffering at the very end of folk’s lives.”
Still, Mr Seymour doesn’t underestimate the level of opposition he’s likely to encounter.
“I think politicians, given the chance, will duck an issue,” he says.
Then there’s the fact that “Bill English has led the campaign against assisted dying within the National Party both the previous times it’s come up.”
Still, he says, “I believe that members of parliament, if they believe in representative democracy, will be looking at the people who put them in parliament, and saying, ‘I believe it’s my job as a representative in a democracy to support the will of my people.’"
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