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Newstalk ZB: Members of the disabled community appear in documentaries asking euthanasia supporters to change their minds

By Malcolm Jordan and Raylene Ramsay

Members of the disabled community are asking euthanasia supporters to think about the sort of society they want to live in. A Parliamentary Select Committee hearing submissions on David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill is due to table its report tomorrow. A new documentary called ‘A life in chronic pain’ was released on the weekend, focusing on Christchurch man Dr John Fox and why he opposes the Bill.

Fox, who was born with a form of cerebral palsey, called spastic hemiplegia, says many people like him would qualify for euthanasia. He says too many people only consider the issue as a ‘thought experiment’.

“When you think about people you really know, I think New Zealanders will change their minds, and part of the reason why I agreed to tell my story is to put a face on the people who worry about the value of their life.”

He says it doesn’t enforce phycological assessments, counselling or meetings with family before euthanasia becomes an option. “If I were a 25-year-old rugby player, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. There would be suicide prevention available to me; they’d pull out all the stops. What I want for disabled people and what I want for people with terminal illness, is the same wrap-around care.”

The Justice Committee will table its report tomorrow, after about 38,000 submissions – the majority opposing the legislation. David Seymour says a motivated minority is employing scare tactics  and telling horror stories that aren’t true. Seymour’s said he’s heard arguments that disabled people will be vulnerable. “That is absolutely absurd. Having a disability does not qualify you to access assisted dying under my Bill and the Bill will get tighter through the law-making process so you’ll be even more secure.”

Creative Director, Henoch Kloosterboer, says this is his third documentary on the subject. He says he’s telling the stories of people, like Fox, who would be eligible for assisted dying. “The End of Life Choice Bill isn’t just for people with terminal illness. It actually affects a much larger segment of society. And it further marginalises the disabled community.”

Watch John’s documentary in widescreen and read his complete story here.

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