Personal stories accompanied questions at a meeting on the End of Life Choice Bill last week.
Almost 100 South Canterbury residents attended the public meeting on euthanasia at Timaru’s Grosvenor Hotel, which was hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon.
National MP Michael Woodhouse addressed the room, saying it was a “personal issue” for many of those gathered, but suggested the idea of a dignified death was “very subjective”.
“[We] need to be very careful,” he said of any potential law change.
He was also concerned dying New Zealanders could feel pressured into euthanasia if they felt they were being a burden on the health system or their families.
The alternative to legalising assisted dying was improving palliative care, he said.
However, Act New Zealand Party MP and Bill sponsor David Seymour said the Bill was about compassion and giving people a choice to die without suffering.
“[The] status quo is simply not adequate.”
Timaru resident Adrian Hall, who spoke in support of the Bill at the meeting, said his biggest concern was that everyone was talking about the debate on behalf of other people.
Mr Hall said that if he was suffering on his deathbed he would want to be able to choose to die, legally.
He had watched his brother die in pain from stomach cancer, wishing he could choose to die earlier.
Last week’s meeting had been an “amazing” debate, both MPs presenting solid arguments, he said.
“[It was] one of the best I’ve ever been to.”
Mr Falloon, contacted by The Courier after the meeting, said it was a “really positive” discussion.
“A good number of people got to have their say and the tone was respectful of other views,” Mr Falloon said.
He was pleased with the turnout and the variety of comments made.
The justice select committee, of which Mr Falloon is a member, would begin reviewing the more than 16,000 submissions in the next few weeks.
While official submissions had closed, feedback from the public was still welcome, he said.
“My door is always open to anyone who wants to discuss their views on the Bill with me.”