MP says ‘no’ to euthanasia Bill

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The End of Life Choice Bill debate panel, from left, Otago Regional Councillor Michael Laws, ACT MP David Seymour, host and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker, Dr Mary English, and former PM Sir Bill English.

Queenstown’s MP Hamish Walker will vote against a Bill that would legalise some forms of euthanasia.

ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill, up for its second reading this month, has generated heated debate around the country.

It’s also divided politicians, who face a conscience vote on the issue.

Walker tells Mountain Scene the issue is an “emotional one”.

He initially voted for the Bill to pass its first reading so he could hear debate both for and against it.

“I have been lobbied hard by both sides of the debate, through emails, letters, Facebook messages, constituents visiting and phoning my offices, and the two public meetings.”

He says his main concern with the Bill is the lack of safeguards to ensure vulnerable people are protected.

“Another concern I have is in regards to elderly people in families, who have long been cherished senior figures of families, feeling as though they have become a burden and the little protection for them.

“This also applies to disabled people, who in some cases, do not believe the Bill safeguards them to protect them from harm.”

Perhaps the most vocal opponent of the Bill has been former Prime Minister and Clutha-Southland MP Sir Bill English.

At a public meeting in Queenstown on the issue last year, he said it was a “slippery slope”.

“It permits doctors on a register to kill people and be immune from criminal or civil procedure.

“We shouldn’t try to play down how big a step this actually is.”

At the same meeting, Seymour said the Bill would give choice to those who wanted it, while also protecting those who wanted nothing to do with it.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz