Sir Bill English submits against assisted dying

Drive 16/08/2018

Sir Bill English has returned to Parliament to argue against proposed euthanasia legislation.

On Thursday, the former Prime Minister was joined by his wife Dr Mary English to submit against David Seymour's contentious End of Life Choice Bill.

Mr English told RadioLIVE Drive even people who support euthanasia should be opposed to this Bill.

He says the criteria for who would be eligible to request assisted dying was too broad, the test for whether a person had consented to die was too low, and there were too few consequences in place for anyone who broke the safeguards of the legislation.

If passed, Mr Seymour's Bill would give those with a terminal illness or a grievous or incurable medical condition the option to request a medically assisted death.

Dr English, who is a GP and runs a medical practice in Kelburn, said legalising euthanasia would put pressure on patients to not be a burden to their loved ones.

She said the Bill would give doctors unprecedented power over life and death.

Both of the Englishes linked their arguments to the campaign to address New Zealand's youth suicide rates.

Mr Seymour said he found the submission from the Englishes "disappointing".

"It's the same old chestnut that 'we can't prove anything but we think that there might be something going on'. That's what we see all around the world, is the opponents of choice run this fear, uncertainty and doubt campaign," he said.

"There are people who've done scientific studies over 20 years of jurisdictions and they do not find evidence of the coercion that he speculates."

Mr Seymour said there's "no evidence" that legalising euthanasia leads to a rise in suicides.

The End of Life Choice Bill passed its first reading in December with 76 MPs voting in favour and 44 against.

The select committee stage, due to close in March, was extended until March 2019 after an unprecedented 35,000 submissions were received.

The committee is now travelling around the country to hear people's views on the bill.

The vast majority (71 percent) of New Zealanders support euthanasia, a Newshub Reid Research poll found in February.

Listen to the full interview with Sir Bill English above.

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Michelle A'Court, filling in for Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.