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Euthanasia - Binding Referendum is Not Democracy.

Does the electorate want a referendum on euthanasia? How many New Zealanders have read the 23 page End of Life Choice Bill and understand this complex legislation?

Parliament has a duty to legislate for the protection of the lives of every member of our human family and not to preside over our destruction. Parliament in voting 63 to 57 in favour of the amendment to have a binding referendum on the End of Life Choice bill has shamefully abdicated its responsibility to protect the lives of the most vulnerable in our community. The total prohibition of the taking of the life of an innocent human being is the foundation of the law and of medicine. The fundamental medical ethic of not killing or helping patients kill themselves must not be reduced to a popularity contest.

A binding referendum will be held at the 2020 general election should the Contentious End of Life Choice Bill be passed at its third reading on 13 November. It is disappointing that the nine MPs of NZ First pledged to support the third reading of the bill on the condition that Parliament voted to support its supplementary order paper requiring a binding referendum. NZ First had a duty to protect life by voting against this bill. Winston Peters is claiming that we should rely on the collective wisdom of the community and not on temporarily elected MPs. Why then, did he not call for a referendum in 2003 when his deputy leader, Peter Brown, presented his Death with Dignity bill? If this contentious bill is passed, NZ First must accept responsibility.

It is reprehensible of Parliament to refer this defective bill to the electorate in a referendum. The bill was reported back to Parliament by the Justice Select Committee as being unfit to pass in its present state. A total of 117 Supplementary Order Papers with amendments to improve the bill were subsequently shamefully voted down by Parliament. How can Parliament in good conscience ask the electorate to consider this bill which is unfit and unsafe?

The integrity of the Prime Minister is questioned. The Prime Minister was quoted in the NZ Herald in June as saying, “My view is that a referendum isn’t required to ensure that the voice of New Zealanders has been heard and to reflect the will of Parliament and the people they represent,” she said. “I will be voting for the bill to continue as it stands.” Why then, did she undermine Parliament by voting for a referendum? nation. Why is she abdicating her responsibility to oppose this bill which threatens the lives of the most vulnerable? Why is she failing to provide leadership by passing this responsibility back to us?

Euthanasia is about doctors killing their patients or assisting in their suicide, it is intrinsically evil, no referendum can legitimise that which is evil. The approval of the community, even in a referendum, can never make murder acceptable. A referendum is an attempt to seduce and to implicate the whole community in the murder of the vulnerable.

Parliament has a sacred duty to protect the lives of every member of the community, it has no authority to preside over our destruction. Parliament has a serious duty to protect the community, especially our most vulnerable members, from the serious threat to life presented by this contentious bill. It can protect the community by voting decisively to defeat this bill at its third reading.

Ken Orr
Right to Life

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