2020 New Zealand euthanasia referendum

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2020 New Zealand euthanasia referendum
Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?
Date19 September 2020
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The New Zealand euthanasia referendum will be a binding referendum,[1] held alongside the 19 September 2020 general election on the question of whether to legalise voluntary euthanasia for those with a terminal illness and less than six months left to live if approved by two doctors.[1][2] New Zealand is the first country to put euthanasia legalisation to a referendum.[1] If over half of respondents vote in support of the legislation, it will come into force 12 months after the final vote count is announced.[3] A referendum on personal cannabis consumption will be held at the same time. The results of these referendums are expected to be released on 2 October.[4]

Background[edit]

Euthanasia is currently illegal in New Zealand, and it is illegal to "aid and abet suicide" under Section 179 of the New Zealand Crimes Act 1961.

Two attempts to allow for legal euthanasia in New Zealand have failed to get through Parliament. A 1995 Death with Dignity Bill failed by 61 votes against and 29 supporting, and a 2003 Death with Dignity Bill failed in its first reading by 60 votes opposing to 58 supporting.[5]

ACT MP David Seymour entered the End of Life Choice Bill to the private member's bill ballot in October 2015.[6] The bill passed its first reading 76–44 in December 2017, its second reading 70–50 in June 2019,[7][8] and its third reading 69–51 in November 2019.[9]

Referendum[edit]

The public will get to vote on whether to legalise voluntary euthanasia as New Zealand First threatened to vote down the legislation if it did not go to a referendum, while the Green party demanded more safeguards to ensure that only terminally ill patients would be covered, and could not be coerced.[2] The decision to go to a referendum passed 69–51.[10]

Referendum question[edit]

The question asked of voters will be:[3]

Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?

The two options will be:[3]

  • Yes, I support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force.
  • No, I do not support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force.

If more than half of respondents vote in support of the legislation, it will come into force 12 months after the final vote count is announced.[3] If more than half of respondents vote in opposition to the legislation, it won't come into force. Unless a second referendum is held, the End of Choice Act will expire on 16 November 2024, five years after it received the royal assent.[11]

Public opinion[edit]

A poll in July 2019 found that 72% of the public supported some kind of assisted dying for the terminally ill. Support over the past 20 years has averaged around 68%.[2] During the 16-month-long select committee stage of the End of Life Choice Bill, 39,000 public submissions were made, with 90% of submitters opposed to it.[10] Over one thousand doctors signed an open letter saying that they "want no part in assisted suicide".[12]

Date Polling organisation Sample size For Against Undecided Lead
8–12 Feb 2020 1 News Colmar Brunton 1,004 65 25 9 40
17–26 Nov 2019 Horizon Research 1,521 70 30 40
20–24 Jul 2019 1 News Colmar Brunton 1,003 72 20 7 52
19–29 Apr 2019 Horizon Research 1,341 74 19 7 55

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Graham-McLay, Charlotte (13 November 2019). "New Zealand to vote in referendum on euthanasia". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Euthanasia bill passes final vote, goes to referendum". The New Zealand Herald. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "Referendum on the End of Life Choice Act 2019". referendum.govt.nz. New Zealand Government. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  4. ^ Malpass, Luke; Cooke, Henry (28 January 2020). "Jacinda Ardern announces 2020 election will be held on September 19". Stuff. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Assisted dying: New Zealand - New Zealand Parliament". www.parliament.nz. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  6. ^ Seymour, David. "Seymour lodges assisted dying Bill". ACT.org.nz. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Euthanasia bill passes second reading". New Zealand Herald. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Euthanasia bill passes second reading in Parliament". Radio New Zealand. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  9. ^ Cooke, Henry (13 November 2019). "MPs vote in favour of End of Life Choice Bill at final reading". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  10. ^ a b Cooke, Henry (13 November 2019). "Euthanasia bill passes 69-51, sending the final decision to a referendum". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  11. ^ "End of Life Choice Act 2019 No 67, Public Act 2 Commencement – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  12. ^ Collins, Simon (22 June 2019). "1000 Kiwi doctors sign letter against euthanasia". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2020.