Hospice NZ asks court about legality of euthanasia-free service

"euthanasia-free" service.

Hospice New Zealand has applied for an urgent court hearing on whether it will be able to provide a euthanasia-free service should the proposed legislation be approved in a referendum scheduled to take place at the same time as the general election.

The application – lodged by Hospice on April 9 – asks the High Court to provide rulings on the legal meaning of certain aspects of the End of Life Choice Act 2019, including:

  • Whether an organisation such as a hospice can conscientiously object to Assisted Dying and operate a euthanasia-free service.
  •  Whether a district health board or other funding agency can decline to fund or contract with an organisation if it does not agree to provide assisted dying services.
  • Whether the Act’s mandatory obligations on a health practitioner override the ethical, clinical or professional judgments of that practitioner and their obligations under the Code of Health and Disability Consumers’ Rights.
  • Whether a health practitioner may exercise a right of conscientious objection on the basis that they hold as a core value that they must not act in a way that is contrary to their ethical, clinical or professional judgment and obligations.

A Hospice NZ spokeswoman said the application was necessary in order for the charitable organisation to be able to provide accurate advice to its members in advance of the referendum.

A  2017 statement on the Hospice New Zealand website acknowledges that euthanasia is a “challenging and emotive topic.”

“We respect that everyone has the right to their opinion.”

However, they note that legalising euthanasia and/or assisted suicide will place pressure on vulnerable people – those living with disabilities, mental health issues, terminal illness – for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden.

According to the Euthanasia Prevent Coalition Hospice New Zealand has probably launched the court case based on concerns with developments in Canada.

In February 2020, the Delta Hospice Society was informed that they will lose their funding because they refuse to do euthanasia.


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News category: New Zealand.

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