Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

77% submit against euthanasia

A New Zealand anti-euthanasia coalition says most New Zealanders who submitted to the Health Select Committee on end of life issues do not support legalising euthanasia.

Taonga News  |  16 May 2017

Anti-euthanasia advocates the Care Alliance have uncovered strong opposition to 'assisted dying' in 77% of submissions presented to the parliamentary Health Select Committee on end-of-life issues.

Recent analysis carried out by the Care Alliance – a grouping of eleven organisations opposed to euthanasia – found that 16,411 submissions to the Health Select Committee’s investigation into end-of-life issues opposed legalizing ‘assisted dying’, while only 4,142 of the 21,277 supported legalisation.

 “The submissions reflect the depth and breadth of public attitudes about euthanasia.” said Care Alliance Secretary Matthew Jansen, as the Alliance brought to light their research. 

“We believe  [21K] is the largest number of submissions ever received by a Select Committee and, critically, they were unique rather than ‘postcard’ or ‘form’ submissions.” he said.

“We became aware last year that pro-euthanasia advocates were spreading a message that opposing submissions did not meet their standards for length, uniqueness or the use of religious arguments.”

“We thought that was disrespectful to the thousands of New Zealanders who took the time and effort to share their views with Parliament, for and against. So we set to work to find out the facts.”

Care Alliance volunteers read every submission to record views on: legalising euthanasia, submission length, and whether or not religious arguments were used by the submitter. 

This work was completed in April, and a random sample from the full analysis was checked by an independent research company, which concluded that “we can say with at least 95% confidence that the overall classification percentages are accurate within no more than 0.4% variation.”

The Health Select Committee investigation began in response to a petition presented to Parliament in June 2015.

“Quite simply, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society were able to get 8,975 signatures on a petition, but could muster less than half that number in actual submissions,” said Mr Jansen.  “By contrast, 16,411 people took the opportunity to say no to euthanasia.”

Opposition to euthanasia was dominant across all submission lengths. For example, of the submissions longer than one page, 1,510 submissions opposed euthanasia while 523 supported legalisation.

Mr Jansen added that “While the Care Alliance never argues this issue from a faith perspective, we respect the right of any New Zealander to do so, for or against, if they wish.  That is a real and existing right protected by the Bill of Rights Act. In the event, more than 82 percent of submissions opposed to euthanasia contained no reference to religious arguments.”

Mr Jansen said that many of the submissions, for and against, contained deeply moving personal stories regarding illness, dying and suicide.

“The Select Committee has been provided with incredible testimony. We trust that they will hear that there is much more that needs to be done to improve mental health, disability and end of life services in New Zealand, but that the overwhelming majority of submitters say that euthanasia is not a solution.”

NB: The Care Alliance includes professional medical associations including palliative care specialists, a disability rights group and Christian anti-euthanasia organisations.