Thursday, November 14, 2019

New Zealand Euthanasia bill passes. Referendum is next.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I have very bad news. 

The New Zealand parliament passed the euthanasia bill by a vote of 69 to 51 yesterday. 

But the battle is not over. On October 23, the New Zealand First party passed an amendment to the bill requiring a national referendum approve the euthanasia bill, before it becomes legal. New Zealand First stated that a referendum was required to gain the support of their party.

The date of the next election and the euthanasia referendum is not yet determined but it is likely to occur in the fall of 2020.

Similar to the Canadian law, the New Zealand "End of Life Choice Bill" legalizes death by lethal injection (euthanasia) and death by lethal prescription (assisted suicide).

If this law passes in the referendum, the experience with the law will likely be similar to Canada whereby the latest data from Ontario, Canada's largest jurisdiction, states that there were 3822 assisted deaths from June 17, 2016 - September 30, 2019 with all of the deaths, except one, being euthanasia.

The New Zealand bill passed with several amendments based on political trade-offs were approved. Henry Cooke with Stuff news reported:

The Greens and NZ First both agreed to vote for the bill on-bloc once certain conditions were met. 
For the Greens those conditions were more safeguards to make sure only the terminally ill were covered, and could not be coerced. 
NZ First referendum on the subject, an amendment entered by a tight vote won 63 to 57.
Now that the referendum will occur, we know that its necessary to convince the average voter that legalizing euthanasia is either wrong or a dangerous public policy.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will work with New Zealand organizers to build an effective campaign. Success is necessary and possible.

On November 6, 2012, the Massachusetts citizens defeated the assisted suicide referendum by a vote of 51.1% to 48.9%. The referendum was defeated by a coalition of diverse people in a state which tends to define itself as progressive.

Maggie Barry speaking
Cooke reported in Stuff news that the issue is not over.

National MP Maggie Barry, one of the bill's fiercest opponents, said her side had lost a battle but the war for the referendum had just begun. 
"The most liberal Parliament in New Zealand's history has voted through this dangerous and permissive bill. Now the only hope of stopping euthanasia being legalised is through a referendum at the election," Barry said. 
"We are involved in now, a major war to tell the people of New Zealand what this might mean for the vulnerable, for the disabled, for those who fear for their lives.
A referendum victory is not only necessary but it is possible.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Good to see freedom winning.