Sitting MP makes false statements on End of Life Choice Act
Sitting MP, Maggie Barry – a vociferous opponent of the End of Life Choice Act – has misled voters in a column published yesterday.
In her column, Barry claims “if a patient asks a doctor about assisted dying, the GP is explicitly prohibited, at risk of prosecution, to offer counselling and treatments. They are required instead to advise the patient they are not obliged to talk to anyone in their family and to refer them to a list of 12 doctors – appointed by the Ministry of Health – who are supporters of euthanasia, and ‘willing to act’”.
As a member of the Justice Committee that considered the End of Life Choice Act, Maggie Barry knows – or should know – this information is false.
There is nothing in the End of Life Choice Act that prohibits a GP from offering counselling and treatments to a patient. In fact, the Act requires a GP to make sure the person understands their prognosis and all their other options for end-of-life care, including palliative care. A GP must encourage a patient to talk about their wish with others, including people such as counsellors and family. A GP is also required to talk with other health practitioners who are in contact with the patient.
Contrary to what Barry states, a GP is at risk of prosecution if these and numerous other requirements are not met.
There is no such thing as a list of 12 doctors appointed by the Ministry of Health.
Maggie Barry also talks extensively about the elderly and those with a disability being vulnerable under this Act. She fails to mention that advanced age and disability alone can never make someone eligible for End of Life Choice.
In grossly misrepresenting the content of the Act, it begs the question – is Maggie Barry so opposed to the law she is willing to ignore the facts to further her position or has she not bothered to learn what the law actually says? Either way, making false statements on an important referendum issue is extremely concerning in any democracy and not what we should expect from a MP in New Zealand.
We would urge Maggie Barry and anyone else concerned or confused by her statements to visit referendums.govt.nz to get the facts.
The column referred to in this statement can be found here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/300117427/the-price-of-the-euthanasia-law-is-too-high
Media contact: Jo de Joux – 021 245 6924