The Health Select Committee inquiry into ending one’s life in New Zealand has received a staggering number of 21,435 written submissions, the majority of them unique rather than form submissions. According to Dr Jane Silloway Smith, Director of Every Life Research Unit who has analysed a randomised sample of the submissions, the views expressed are running three to one against legalising assisted suicide. More than 1,800 people had asked to appear in person for the public hearings, which started in late August.
The inquiry is in response to a petition presented to Parliament in 2015 by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand. The petition asked Parliament ‘to 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 Care Alliance, an umbrella group of organisations who view assisted suicide as dangerous and unnecessary noted: ‘The real story is that the silent majority are finding their voice on this issue, and are refusing to be told how they are supposed to think by a small group of euthanasia advocates.’
Meanwhile Family First NZ National Director Bob McCoskrie commented: ‘It is ironic ex-MP Maryan Street implied a record 22,000 responses to her petition meant it is time to legalise euthanasia. In fact, the message is the exact opposite. New Zealanders want a conversation – but they are opposed to assisted suicide as the solution.’
Family First NZ is calling on ACT MP David Seymour to withdraw his private member’s bill and to support this inquiry to its completion, so that the important conversation around end-of-life care can happen. ‘The country needs to have a robust honest debate about assisted suicide without the emotion of a law change in the mix,’ said Mr McCoskrie.