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Press Release from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NZ

Press Release from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NZ

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand has launched a petition urging Parliament to debate a law change that would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients end their suffering.

“Unfortunately, even with over 80 per cent of New Zealanders wanting legalisation, politicians still sit on their hands, agonising and arguing about much less important issues,” VESNZ President Dr Jack Havill, of Hamilton, said.

Dr Havill, a retired intensive care specialist, said: “The petition will give New Zealanders a chance to get the issues discussed before a select committee. The case is excellent and the public want an honest and informed discussion.” The petition was formally launched as one of the world’s
leading experts on voluntary euthanasia, Dutchman Dr Rob Jonquière, is making a nationwide 19-day speaking tour of New Zealand.

Dr Jonquière, who helped draft the pioneering Dutch euthanasia legislation, is Communications Director of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, which comprises 49 organisations committed to allowing people to make choices for a dignified death in 24 countries. He has been
invited by VESNZ, which campaigns under the title End-of-Life Choice.

The petition reads: “The undersigned respectfully request that the New Zealand House of Representatives investigate fully the 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.”

Former Labour MP Maryan Street, who proposed a private member’s Bill for a law change in the last Parliament, said: “We want MPs to see that there is a great deal of public support for this bill. It is a compassionate and closely prescribed bill, applying only to New Zealand residents aged 18 or over who have terminal illnesses or conditions which make their lives, by their own definition, unbearable.

“We would like the petition to be heard by the Health select committee. It could prepare the way for an MP to put the End-of-Life Choice Bill back in the ballot. At the very least, it would present MPs with the opportunity to hear from a range of people about this important and enduring issue.”


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