The Previous Parliament’s Health Select Committee Investigation
The previous New Zealand Parliament’s Health Select Committee conducted an extensive investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand in response to a Petition by Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others.
From 27 August 2015 until 1 February 2016 the Committee called for written submissions. They received more than 21,000 unique submissions – a record number on any issue to date. These are published at Parliament’s website.
From 24 August 2016 to March 2017 the Committee heard about 800 oral submissions over 108 hours, after inviting all 1800 people who indicated that they wished to speak to do so.
Analyses of Submissions
A random analysis (based on a sample) found that 78% of submissions are opposed to changing the law on assisted dying (assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia). The website, 16000Voices.org.nz, showcases some of these submissions.
The Care Alliance analysed all the published submissions and found that 77.1% (16,411) are opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide; 19.5 % (4,142) support euthanasia and assisted suicide; and 3.4 % (724) are neutral or unclear on this issue.
They also analysed the length of each submission and whether religious arguments are used. The submissions opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide dominated each length category and 64% make no mention of religion.
The Committee released their report on 4 August 2017, concluding that 80% of submissions are opposed to euthanasia and ‘assisted dying’. The Committee did not make any recommendation that the law should be changed.
What was the investigation about?
The Committee investigated:
- The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life.
- The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives.
- The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation.
- International experiences.
The Committee intended to consider “all the various aspects of the issue, including the social, legal, medical, cultural, financial, ethical and philosophical implications”.
Here is an interview with Simon O’ Connor, the Chair of the Health Select Committee, about the scope of the investigation.