News : Article

End of Life Choice Bill poses significant risks to people with disabilities

Graphic: Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero

The Disability Rights Commissioner outlined her concerns in a submission to the Justice Select Committee.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said the End of Life Choice Bill undermines years of work to change perceptions of disabled people in New Zealand and poses significant risks to them.

Ms Tesoriero has outlined her concerns regarding the End of Life Choice Bill in a submission to the Justice Select Committee.

"Much of the discussion so far has centred around the Bill allowing people with a terminal illness to end their life on their own terms. However, this Bill has wider implications for the disability community – it is not just limited to terminal illness," Ms Tesoriero said.

"Before we start talking about how disabled people can end their lives, we should be talking about how they can be supported to live their lives to their fullest potential," she said.

Key recommendations made by the Disability Rights Commissioner in her submission are that:

  • The Bill should not be passed into law in its current form;
  • The process and proposed safeguards outlined in the Bill are inadequate. In particular, the Bill does not protect the interests of disabled and vulnerable members of the community;
  • The Bill contains insufficient provisions and protections around matters such as: the provision of appropriate information; informed consent; assessing capacity; determining if undue influence or coercion exist;
  • There is also no "cooling off" period and the oversight/approval mechanisms are inadequate;
  • Legislative change in relation to end of life choice cannot be considered in isolation from the standard and current services and resources available to those who experience serious but non-terminal conditions or palliative care services.

Download the Commission's submission.

Date: 7 March 2018

Source: New Zealand Human rights Commission


Image credits

  1. Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero - New Zealand Human rights Commission