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When conscience counts

19 Jun 17

When conscience counts
David Seymour ... a result for MPs to think about

The assisted dying debate is heating up and Horizon’s polling indicates Members of Parliament will be on solid ground with large majorities of their voters if they support a law change.

In the current survey support was higher than average among those who voted for the National, Labour, Green and ACT parties: up to as many as 80 in 100 of those who voted for them at the 2014 general election supported some of the proposed changes canvassed in this research. (Full party vote results tables in a full report which can be download from a link at the foot of this page).

However, it is a conscience vote and the impact on party vote may not be as important. Mr Seymour argues MPs who oppose a change have some explaining to do to their voters. However, it raises the issue of wether MPs are elected to act according to their consciences, or to follow majority viewpoints.

In a statement, ACT leader David Seymour is welcoming another poll that shows overwhelming public support for legalising assisted dying. The Horizon Poll commissioned by the End-of-Life Choice Society shows support at 75 per cent in favour, versus 11 per cent opposed.

"One of the most important results is that the poll shows stronger support amongst older New Zealanders," says Mr Seymour. "Opponents of assisted dying often try to paint the elderly as victims of assisted dying, they misunderstand that my bill is about choice, and older New Zealanders want choice."

The poll comes after similar results in 2015 from Reid Research (71-24) Colmar Brunton (75-20) and Curia (66-20).

"Some have speculated that strong support in 2015 was a response to the high profile Lecretia Seales case of that year. This poll shows that, if anything, public support has strengthened since then."

The break down in the poll shows that across gender, ethnicity, and political party affiliation, support for assisted dying is consistent.

"Members of Parliament who oppose assisted dying must explain how they can vote against the wishes of those who elect them and pay their salaries.

"The gracious response from opponents would be to accept that public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of change. My hope is that they will accept this simple fact as part of a commitment to a reasoned debate on the issue," says Mr Seymour.

Right to Life Inc, which opposes euthanasia, says in a statement the Horizon questions were slanted to get the results wanted by the Euthanasia Society, which commissioned the research. However, multiple polls by different researches indicate similar results.

Right to Life says: "The poll question disguises the reality that euthanasia entails a doctor giving a lethal injection to a patient or assisting in the patients suicide. There is a considerable difference between a doctor killing a patient and ethical and lawful palliative care, where a doctor provides medical treatment to allow a patient to die peacefully."

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