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'Euthanasia referendum a tool for legitimising murder'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Right to Life is opposed to the proposal of New Zealand First that Parliament give approval for a referendum to change the law to allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide. The issue of euthanasia is simply too complex to be put to a public vote. We believe that any change to the Crimes Act will ultimately lead to a "slippery slope" of assisted dying policies. Right to Life does not think this is a matter that should be decided by individuals within the community.

We believe that the ground whereby doctors can kill their patients or assist in their suicide would be constantly widened if a referendum led to a Euthanasia bill being passed. There are no possible safeguards that could ever ensure adequate protection for the vulnerable. There is ample evidence from overseas that once the law against killing is relaxed that the grounds for killing continue to expand. This is very clear looking at the evidence from the Netherlands and Belgium.

Right to Life is concerned that the question that is asked in this proposed referendum will be worded in such a way, as to achieve the objectives of those who are promoting euthanasia. We also are concerned that should the result of the referendum support euthanasia, this will impose pressure on the conscience of those members of parliament who are opposed to it, and who want to protect the community.

New Zealand First and Labour are ignoring the voice of the people clearly expressed by the 21,277 persons who wrote submissions to and the nearly 1,000 oral submissions made to the Parliamentary Select Committee in its two years consideration of the petition of the Hon Maryan Street. An analysis made by the Committee revealed that 77 per cent of those who made submissions were opposed to the law being changed to allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide. The Street petition asked, "That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable." The petition asks for a change to existing law.

New Zealand First and Labour are aware that the Committee in its 48 page report to Parliament did not recommend a law change. The report also stated that many members of the committee, after considering evidence from overseas were concerned that decriminalising euthanasia would be a threat to the vulnerable in our community. Why is the government now ignoring this important and authoritative report?

The cost of the proposed referendum would be an estimated $26 million. Why is this money not being invested into our world class palliative care system where it could be put to much better use.

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