Statement From Rt. Hon Helen Clark On End Of Life Choice
“I believe the Act is compassionate in giving people who are suffering in ways that are very difficult to alleviate, the right to say their farewells at the time of their choice.
“I have spent many years travelling the world as part of my work, meeting people of all beliefs and ideals. One thing that stands out for me is how so many respect the way we do things in New Zealand – our democracy, our sense of fair-play, and our compassion.
“New Zealanders are now facing a referendum on October 17, held in conjunction with the General Election, on whether or not the End of Life Choice Act should come into force. It has been passed in Parliament, but will only come into force if there is a majority vote for it in the referendum.
“The Act gives adults of sound mind who are terminally ill, have significant and ongoing decline in physical capability, are experiencing unbearable suffering that cannot be eased, and are likely to die within the next six months the option to choose how, when and where they die.
“MPs have debated this law for two years and heard many submissions on it. They have ensured there are stringent safeguards in this law.
“The option to choose when to end one’s life will only be available to that tiny proportion of New Zealanders who meet all the rigorous criteria set out in the law. There are more safeguards in this Act than in any other piece of comparable legislation enacted elsewhere in the world.
“You cannot access this Act if you have a mental illness. You cannot access this Act if you have a disability alone. You must have a terminal illness which is likely to end your life in the next six months. You cannot be coerced to take up this Act’s provisions.
“Many people have had personal experience of those they know begging to be allowed to have their suffering ended. Experience from overseas shows that when people have the choice of assisted dying available to them, they begin to enjoy their last days of living because they no longer have to fear the manner of their dying.
“This Act provides choice to those who want it and who meet its strict criteria.
“Those who oppose the Act clearly would not wish to invoke its provisions themselves, but they should not prevent others from having the choice to do so. That isn’t fair.
“I urge you to speak to those in your family and other networks to reassure them that this Act is compassionate and humane and has strong safeguards.
“I encourage New Zealand voters when they go to the polls on October 17 and who believe in compassion and dignity, to vote YES in the referendum on the End of Life Choice Act 2019. Don’t let fear or misinformation get in the way of compassion.”
For further information about the Act and how it works, please go to www.yesforcompassion.org.nz. There you will find more information, including personal stories, which make the case for voting yes.
Helen Clark is a supporter of Yes for Compassion. The group enables New Zealanders to cast informed yes votes in the End of Life Choice referendum on 17 October.