Oral Presentation Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law and New Zealand Bioethics Conference

Legalizing Assisted Death in New Zealand- Learning from the Canadian Experience (813)

Janine Winters 1
  1. University of Otago, N Dunedin, OTAGO, New Zealand

New Zealand's current “End of Life Bill Choice Bill” (EOLCB) sponsored by David Seymour, borrows heavily from the 2016 Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) legislation that legalized euthanasia in Canada. The MAiD legislation was developed relatively rapidly; a 2015 Canadian Supreme Court decision gave the legislature one year to legalize assisted dying in Canada. Novel, undefined terms and phrases are now being interpreted by Canadian clinicians and the Canadian courts. Examples include, what constitutes a “grievous and irremediable condition” and when is death “reasonably foreseeable”? The New Zealand EOLCB utilizes some of the same phrases and also shares some specific requirements. One of these is the requirement for the medical provider to remain in close proximity to the patient from administration of the lethal agent until the death. Questions arise from this requirement. Does requiring a provider to stay incentivize using the fast-acting intravenous route of administration?  Does it trouble or upset the providers to be present to witness the death process?

This presentation will first identify provisions and terms of MAiD that are similar to the current EOLCB.  Then media reports and academic literature regarding the Canadian experience with euthanasia from 2016 to 2019 will be reviewed.  Finally, I will describe the study that I am conducting.  In October 2019, I will interview twelve Canadian doctors about their lived experience of personally administering medications to hasten death under MAiD.  This will be my first presentation of my impressions of the twelve first-hand accounts of the provider experience.