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Euthanasia Debate Packs Out Wanaka Church

Euthanasia Debate Packs Out Wanaka Church

Sunday afternoon's public debate on the End of Life Choice Bill, that aims to legalise voluntary euthanasia, was a resounding success and drew a packed audience to Wanaka's Presbyterian Community Church.

Debate convenor and chairman Michael Laws said that almost one hundred interested locals attended the debate between the Upper Clutha Anglican parish and the Central/Lakes senior schools debating team. Extra seating was required to accommodate the public interest.

"The overwhelming feedback was that people were really made to think by the speakers' arguments - from both sides - and that we should have more such contests on the great issues of our day. It was an informed but impassioned contest of facts and ideas. A fantastic, intelligent event."

The senior Year 13 students were Leah Kissick (Wakatipu HS), Jake Nicholson (Mt Aspiring College) and Emily Downey (Dunstan HS). The Upper Clutha parish was led by retired judge Fred McIlrea and included hospice nurse Louisa Ingham and Rev Damon Plimmer.

The students affirmed "That the End of Life Choice bill should be made law."

The audience asked questions of the debaters at the end of the formal presentations, willingly engaged in the discussion, and were also required to judge the winning team. A narrow majority favoured the students' arguments.

“Every speech was thought-provoking. I was incredibly Impressed by the students’ composure – for 17 year olds to put themselves against the array of life experience that made up the parish, was pretty special. They more than held their own.”

Mr Laws said that the overwhelming feeling of the audience “was that we need more such articulate, intelligent, open discussions. Rev Plimmer and his parish are to be congratulated for raising these issues publicly. I hope it’s the start of big pubic discussions – an annual event. Taking on the great issues of humanity with wit, style and damned good arguments.”

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