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Euthanasia vote signals key referendum issues

Hon Maggie Barry and Simon O'Connor

13 November 2019

Euthanasia vote signals key referendum issues

Many MPs are tonight expressing disappointing at the result of tonight’s vote passing the End of Life Choice Bill but already looking ahead to next year’s referendum.

“We stand with those who are most vulnerable in our society and who feel even more vulnerable tonight. This law has compromised their care,” Simon O’Connor says. “Many have told us of the discrimination they face every day, and that this bill just makes things even worse.”

The Bill passed by 69 votes to 51, and means all New Zealanders will have a say by way of referendum at next year’s General Election.

“This is not the end by any means, but now the start of a much wider discussion and debate.”

O’Connor says the bill signals a profound change to medical care in New Zealand. “It’s notable that the majority of doctors, nurses and those caring for the sick have warned this Parliament not to ‘go there’. There has never been an option for a doctor to kill their patient, but this bill enables that.”

Hon Maggie Barry wants to thank the thousands of New Zealanders who have engaged with the bill through public submission and debate, and in the energy they have brought to raise awareness of the many fatal flaws in the bill. Many of those issues were highlighted in compelling fashion in tonight’s debate in Parliament.

“We want to thank the thousands of kiwis who spoke for more care in society, and not death.

“The most liberal Parliament in New Zealand’s history has voted through this dangerous and permissive bill. Now the only hope of stopping euthanasia being legalised is through a referendum at the election.”

Hon Barry says there needs to be an urgent emphasis on access to palliative care wherever and whenever it’s needed, and to resource it properly with a suitably trained workforce to deliver the best quality end of life care.

The MPs also thank the Care Alliance, Euthanasia Free New Zealand, Hospice NZ and other organisations and ordinary New Zealanders that have been vocal in their opposition to the bill.

The MPs have expressed confidence that fellow Kiwis will recoil from the End of Life Choice Act when they have an opportunity to vote at next year’s referendum. This process in Parliament has proven that the more that is known about the law, the less support it receives. Public polling has already indicated that education about the End of Life Choice Bill is much needed, with common misconceptions about what the law already provides.

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