Media Release 28 July 2015
Family First NZ says that latest Research NZ poll on euthanasia reveals a welcome decrease in support for euthanasia from its previous poll, and believes that support for a law change will continue to fall as the experiences of overseas jurisdictions highlight the harms and abuse of such law changes.
“What this poll does highlight is that when we as a country have a robust honest debate about euthanasia, families soon realise that safeguards can only go so far, that coercion is subtle, and that patients will ask themselves why they are not availing themselves of it. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a strong argument against legalisation,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Overseas experience proves that the risk of abuse cannot be eliminated.”
“The poll is not perfect. By only asking about the scenario of a ‘painful incurable disease’, the poll question misrepresents not only the real effects of changes to euthanasia laws as evidenced by similar law changes overseas, but it also belittles the incredible advances in the quality of palliative care in New Zealand,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“What this poll fails to address is that to allow assisted suicide would place large numbers of vulnerable people at risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, sick, disabled, those experiencing chronic illness, limited access to good medical care, and those who feel themselves to be under emotional or financial pressure to request early death. Patients will come to feel euthanasia would be ‘the right thing to do’, they have ‘had a good innings’, and they do not want to be a ‘burden’,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Why did the polling company not also ask ‘Should a depressed person be able to access assisted suicide?’, ‘Should a disabled person who is deemed a burden to their family be able to access euthanasia?’, ‘Should an elderly relative who feels they are a burden on both the health system and also on their family finances be able to access euthanasia?’. These are some of the real outcomes of a law change and will lead respondents to re-think their response.”
A 2009 Massey University poll showed a marked difference in responses depending on whether the word “painful” was included in the question.
A poll by Curia Market Research commissioned by Family First NZ in 2013 found that 57% supported the statement “If someone really wants to die, doctors should be allowed to help them kill themselves.” But when they were also asked “If the Government spent more on quality palliative care for people with terminal illnesses, almost no one would die in prolonged pain or suffering”, a majority of 52% supported that proposal and 32% opposed.
Family First is calling for a palliative care regime in New Zealand that is fully funded and world class – and not a court case or legislative change to remove the protection for vulnerable people including children.