Parliament’s Health Select Committee should not back any legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide if it is going to be true to what it read and heard during its investigation of New Zealanders’ views on the issue.
“16,000 Voices”, a campaign based on an analysis done by Every Life Research Unit on the 21,000 submissions to the committee, is making the public aware that three out of four submissions is opposed to euthanasia.
The campaign was launched on March 8. Every Life Research Unit director Dr Jane Silloway Smith said people should expect this opposition to be reflected by the Health Select Committee report.
“[It is] important for us to know, when the report comes out, if the committee is true to what they have been hearing or what they’ve been reading. We should see a report that reflects that level of opposition,” she said.
Dr Smith said for the past two years, the Health Select Committee has been investigating New Zealanders’ views on the petition of Maryann Street and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
“The thing about it is that with all the massive investment in this submission process, the public didn’t really have a sense of what was going on,” she said.
Dr Smith said 21,000 submissions shows a “really, really high involvement”.
“To put it in perspective, the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) which was controversial last year had a very similar submission process. They got 8000 submissions,” she said.
The ending-of-life submissions, she added, contained the views of New Zealanders who are invested in the issue and who cared and thought deeply about it.
Dr Smith said the newly-launched campaign is mostly web and social media based.
There are nine videos of people talking about why they oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The videos are uploaded in the website then shared in various social media platforms.
The first video featured Narelle, a journalist, who said a law legalising euthanasia can lead to a most undignified death particularly for the elderly who might feel pressure from their carers.
Dr Smith said the website has written submissions as well.
“[The submissions have] different perspectives on why. It isn’t just one argument. “It’s actually many, many arguments for why people are uncomfortable with this idea or [are] outright opposed to euthanasia,” said Dr Smith. “The website houses all of that.”