End of Life Choice referendum: no simple yes-no answer possible


On Wednesday night, New Zealand’s Parliament voted by a 63 to 57 majority in favour of amending David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill to make its acceptance conditional on a binding referendum.

With the acceptance of the amendment requiring a referendum, the Bill is likely to pass the third reading in November.

However, it will only become law if it is approved in a binding referendum to be held in conjunction with the 2020  general election.

Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ is confident that this will happen.

“It is one thing to say yes to a nice-sounding phrase around having ‘choice’”, he says.

“But when voters examine the pitfalls and dangers of the bill that may be passed next month, they will quickly realise that assisted suicide is not a simple yes-no answer.”

McCoskrie points to a survey in April that showed that most New Zealanders balk in their support of assisted dying when questioned about specific aspects of euthanasia.

The survey, commissioned by Euthanasia-Free NZ and conducted by Curia Market Research, comes ahead of the bill’s second reading in Parliament on May 22.

The poll suggested the gap in public opinion between those who support and oppose was narrowing.

In a Newsroom article Sam Sachdeva says for the Bill sponsor David Seymour, the prime minister Jacinda Ardern and some other euthanasia supporters, a referendum is an undesirable but necessary evil to get the legislation across the line.

Proponents of the bill point to healthy levels of public support for reform, with upwards of 70 per cent in favour of legalising some form of assisting dying in most polls.

“That may explain why Seymour sees a referendum as an acceptable compromise,” says Sachdeva.

“But recent trends for the other referendum topic which the End of Life Choice Bill will likely feature alongside next year would caution against any complacency.”

Sachdeva suspects referendum on euthanasia and the one on cannabis, and the sentiment they stir up are almost certain to bleed into each other too.”


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