Media Release 15 April 2015
Family First NZ says that a Research NZ poll on euthanasia misrepresents the real effect of decriminalising euthanasia and is far too simplistic.
“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 as well as a potential misunderstanding of what ‘euthanasia’ really is, but it also belittles the incredible advances in the quality of palliative care in New Zealand,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“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.
“Euthanasia will also send a dangerous message to young people about suicide and the value of life.”
“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 negative outcomes of a law change and will lead respondents to re-think their response to a law change,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Many members of the public also confuse euthanasia and assisted suicide with switching off life support, refusing treatment, refusing resuscitation or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment. Many confuse it with death occurring as an unintended side effect of medical treatment or pain relief. Polls need to take this into account.”
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.
The majority of the medical profession and national medical associations around the world have been resolutely against the introduction of voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
Family First is calling for a palliative care regime in New Zealand that is fully funded and world class – and not a legislative change to remove the protection for vulnerable people including children. ENDS