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Labour’s lack of support for voluntary euthanasia

Labour’s lack of support for voluntary euthanasia disappointing

The majority of New Zealanders will be very disappointed that Andrew Little has directed his opposition Labour Party to withdraw support for a law change to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with dignity in the loving presence of friends and family, Jack Havill, president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand said on Monday.

He regretted Mr Little’s direction to Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway to withdraw support for the End-of-Life Choice private member’s Bill proposed by former colleague Maryan Street in the last Parliament.

“We find this strange because it is clear that a majority of New Zealanders support the right to have medical assistance to die where there is terminal illness or irreversible unbearable suffering,” Dr Havill, a retired intensive care specialist from Hamilton, said.

Dr Havill said surveys showed that nearly seven out of 10 New Zealanders across every section of society favoured end-of-life choice for those who qualify and request it. “Many are angry after watching and caring for family members who have suffered long drawn-out deaths and want a good death for themselves.”

Mr Little said Sunday that he had told Mr Lees-Galloway not to put it in the private members’ bill ballot for debate in the new Parliament because it was not an issue Labour should be focused on when it was rebuilding.

"It comes down to priorities at the moment," he said. "We are very much focused on ... jobs and economic security. There are more people affected by weak labour market regulation and weak economic strategy than they are about the right to make explicit choices about how they die."

Parliament failed by only three votes to pass a voluntary euthanasia bill the last time it debated the issue in 2003.


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