WelCom June 2017: Analysis of 21,277 submissions to the Health Select Committee’s investigation into end of life issues shows that 16,411 opposed the legalisation of euthanasia, while 4142 supported legalisation.
Releasing the analysis on 5 May 2017, Matthew Jansen, Secretary of the Care Alliance, said, ‘The submissions reflect the depth and breadth of public attitudes about euthanasia. We believe it is the largest number of submissions ever received by a select committee and, critically, they were unique rather than “postcard” or “form” submissions.
‘We became aware last year 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 set to work to find out the facts. Volunteers read every submission to record views on legalising euthanasia, the length of the submission, and whether or not religious arguments were used by the submitter.”
Care Alliance volunteers read every submission to record views on legalising euthanasia, the length of the submission, and whether or not religious arguments were used by the submitter. This work was completed in April this year, and a random sample from the full analysis was checked by an independent research company. It concluded that ‘we can say with at least 95 per cent confidence, the overall classification percentages are accurate within no more than 0.4 per cent 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 8975 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, 1510 submissions opposed euthanasia while 523 supported its legalisation.
“Opposition to euthanasia was dominant across all submission lengths.”
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 per cent of submissions opposed to euthanasia contained no reference to religious arguments.’
“More than 82 per cent 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.’
Go to the Care Alliance website at tinyurl.com/Submissions-Analysis to read the full analysis.
Matthew Jansen is Secretary Care Alliance Te Manaaki Haumi (www.carealliance.org.nz).