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Friday, 13 January 2017, 2:27 pm
Fresh evidence that an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders favour medically assisted dying for the terminally ill should convince politicians to change the law, a spokesman for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said Friday.
Dr Jack Havill, VESNZ immediate past president, said Parliament’s health select committee, which is currently holding a public inquiry into the issue of voluntary euthanasia, should take heed of the survey in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal showing that just 12 per cent of people opposed it.
“The question must be asked why our politicians are so cagey about promoting a changed law,” he said. “They must be scared of the vocal 12 per cent minority.”
Eyeing the coming general election, Dr Havill said: “Perhaps they should say to themselves that there are lots of votes to be gained here and a well presented law would probably have over 80 per cent support by the time some of the neutral group made up their minds.”
The University of Auckland survey of 15,822 people published in the NZ Medical Journal concluded: “There is strong public support for euthanasia when people are asked whether doctors should be allowed by law to end the life of a patient with a painful incurable disease upon their request.”
It found 66 per cent in favour, 21.7 per cent neutral or unsure and 12.3 per cent strongly opposed.
Dr Havill said support for medically assisted dying was growing in line with the trend around the world with the number of New Zealanders in favour over three per cent higher than the 62.9 per cent recorded in a Horizon Research survey in 2012. The percentage opposed remained the same.
The health select committee considering the issue received the largest number of submissions ever sent to Parliament for a public inquiry.
Parliament heavily defeated the first bid to change the law which makes it a crime to help somebody to die in 1995 but a new Death with Dignity Bill was lost by only one vote in 2003.
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