The College has responded to the Justice Committee’s call for public submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill. We have also submitted a compilation of members’ submissions made to us.

The College’s submission

Our submission explains that the College does not endorse euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, as we consider this is a matter for individual members’ consciences, within the law. We also make a range of recommendations, about end of life care and about specific aspects of the Bill, as drafted.

The submission reflects our members’ and the College’s own analysis of the End of Life Choice Bill.

There are numerous challenges that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide present to general practice, and in its current form, we do not believe the Bill adequately addresses these challenges.

Before making this submission, we invited our members to contribute to our submission on the Bill. The College’s members are motivated to provide compassionate care – this is a fundamental tenet of the medical profession – whether they are for or against euthanasia.


The terminology surrounding euthanasia is emotive, and generally reflects a person’s ethical position on the subject. We have chosen to use the terminology ‘euthanasia’ and ‘physician-assisted suicide’.

Euthanasia: a medical practitioner actively and intentionally ends a patient’s life by some medical means such as an injection. In this submission, we are only referring to voluntary euthanasia – in which the patient has requested to be euthanised.

Physician-assisted suicide: a patient is prescribed lethal drugs at their request and the patient self-administers the drugs with the aim of ending their life.

Our recommendations

Five of our recommendations refer to end of life care, and steps the Government should take to make sure all New Zealanders have knowledge and access of end of life care. They are made given our analysis of:

  • the state of palliative care in New Zealand
  • the effect any legislation may have on vulnerable people
  • the effect euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide has on the doctor–patient relationship
  • funding and workforce issues.

The other 12 recommendations apply if the law is changed. They are set out given the specific challenges with the End of Life Choice Bill, including:

  • the broad definition of medical practitioner
  • the criteria for assisted dying
  • conscientious objection
  • the role of the medical practitioner
  • whether or not the Bill refers to euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide
  • the need to cover what to do if something goes wrong
  • medical professionals having the right to remove their name from the euthanasia register

Our submission

Read our submission to the Justice Committee of Parliament, 6 March 2018 here

Read our compilation of members’ submissions, 6 March 2018 here

Further information 

For any questions about this submission, please contact