Members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society claim in a NZMJ paper that 37% of doctors and 67% of nurses support ‘assisted dying’, that is, legal voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.
“I am skeptical of self-selected online surveys with relatively small sample sizes, with questions based on euphemisms such as ‘assisted dying’,” says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ. “The term ‘assisted dying’ is vague enough to mean different things to different people.”
This particular study, the subject of a 2016 TVNZ story, did not even verify that respondents were indeed New Zealand medical professionals or prevent a respondent from completing the survey multiple times. In a May 2016 report on the same study the researchers disclosed that four days’ of responses were removed due to notice of two faked responses by a TVNZ journalist.
“For all we know, the study may have been rigged by Voluntary Euthanasia Society members,” says Ms Joubert.
“Much of the new paper seems to consist of pro-euthanasia propaganda,” says Ms Joubert.
“The authors engage in wishful thinking that ‘assisted dying’ may be legalised in New Zealand soon, likely based on their own bias as members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
“Any ‘practical and professional support’ to perform euthanasia or assisted suicide, as recommended by the authors, is ridiculously premature.”
After extensive media coverage, New Zealanders have clearly expressed their overwhelming opposition to changing the law. Parliament’s Health Select Committee received a record number of about 21,435 unique submissions in response to the petition by Maryan Street and 8,974 others.
A full analysis, confirmed by an independent research company, found that 77% of submissions (16,411) are opposed to the legalisation of ‘assisted dying’ while only 19.5% (4,142 submissions) were in favour.
In January to May 2017 ‘assisted dying’ bills have been stopped or defeated in eight jurisdictions: In Tasmania, Australia, as well as the US states of Maine, Hawaii,Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Maryland. In several other states, bills were introduced but lacked support to even be debated.
The authors presume that under a future New Zealand law both doctors and nurses would be performing euthanasia.
However, there is significant opposition to the medicalisation of ‘assisted dying’, the recent article by Ron Jones being a case a point.
A growing list of New Zealand doctors (see doctorssayno.nz) are calling for doctors to be left to focus on healing and providing real care for the dying. They argue that doctors are not necessary for the execution of euthanasia and are drawn into the debate only to provide a cloak of medical legitimacy.