New Zealand to vote in referendum on euthanasia

New Zealand is to become the first country in the world to put euthanasia to a binding public vote after lawmakers passed a bill laying out what the country’s assisted suicide regime would be.

The bill passed narrowly on Wednesday by 69 votes to 51, ending years of parliamentary debate on the topic.

The drastic change in law will come into effect if the people of New Zealand approve it in a referendum at the country’s 2020 election.

The proposed change in law goes much further than the Oregon style assisted suicide legislation that has been proposed and rejected by the UK Parliament. Most recently in 2015, MPs voted by 330 votes to 118 to reject a bill that proposed to introduce an Oregon style law to the UK.

There has been very vocal opposition to the proposed change in law.

A record 39,000 public submissions were made while lawmakers were considering the matter, with 90% of submitters opposed to it.

As MPs voted, campaigners carried placards stating “assist us to live not die” and “euthanasia is not the solution” outside parliament.

Claire Freeman, who was involved in a car accident causing her to become tetraplegic, has spoken out forcefully against the assisted suicide.

In a short documentary, for #DefendNZ, Claire revealed that after attempting suicide more than once health professionals “encouraged [her] to explore assisted suicide”.

During her recuperation in hospital, Claire realised “being offered assisted suicide instead of suicide support was disturbing.”

She added: “I had been told ‘if I was in your position, with your disability, I wouldn’t want to live’ by the very health professionals who are there to help suicide survivors… I realised my biggest problem had been my mindset and a lack of proper support.”

Wendi Wicks, a long-time advocate for the rights of disabled people, told the Guardian that the proposed law is dangerous for everyone in New Zealand; particularly the disabled.

Outlining her concerns she said: “[The bill] doesn’t protect against coercion, competency or consent abuses. It doesn’t allow for a cooling-down period like Oregon or Victoria have. Safeguards are vague and lax. Worse still, there’s a sense that a certain level of wrongful death is acceptable.

She added: “It’s to be hoped that the population at large can do a sound job, but that depends on the quality and range of information they get. MPs had a huge range of sound, factual information. But judging from their voting record, many clearly disregarded heaps of it.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has publicly stated her support for euthanasia reform and reluctantly voted for the referendum saying it was the only way of advancing the legislation.

Following her pledge to make widespread changes to New Zealand’s abortion law, a parliamentary bill has been introduced which will in practice permit abortion up to birth for babies prenatally diagnosed with the Down’s syndrome. It has prompted widespread concern from parents about the harmful impact this Bill will have on people with Down’s syndrome.

Two previous attempts to allow for legal assisted suicide in New Zealand have failed to get through Parliament.

NZ PM’s popularity plummets as she supports abortion up to birth

New polling has revealed that the popularity of New Zealand’s Prime Minister has plummeted at the same time as the Government she leads has brought forward a bill which seeks to introduce one of the most extreme abortion policies in the world.

Jacinda Ardern’s prime ministerial polling dropped two times in the last two Colmar Brunton/One News Surveys, from 51% in April – shortly after New Zealand’s terrorist attack – to 41% last month.

Some commentators have suggested her polling has dropped as much as 16% according to her own party’s internal polling.

When asked whether she was concerned about this drop in her popularity, Arden said:

“When it comes to the personal ratings what I equally accept is that when you are in Government and taking on big challenges and difficult conversations and hard debates there are going to be people who disagree with you,” Ardern said.

“We are not going to make progress on some of these big difficult issues unless we are willing to confront hard conversations.

“If you simply govern just to maintain popularity it probably means you are not taking some of those big issues on.”

One of those ‘big difficult issues’ that Arden has taken a clear position on is New Zealand’s extreme abortion legislation currently passing through the New Zealand Parliament.

The Abortion Legislation Bill, which passed its first reading earlier this month, will make abortion legal up until birth with the approval of a single nurse or doctor, which could be the abortion doctor or nurse performing the abortion, and has the Prime Minster of New Zealand’s full support.

New Zealand Justice Minister, Andrew Little, admitting abortion with the consent of a single health professional will be available up to birth.

Arden’s drop in popularity is consistent with other countries where leaders have supported extreme abortion legislation. Thousands of pro-lifers protested outside of New South Wales Parliament House, and almost 100,000 people signed a petition asking the Legislative Council in New South Wales to reject the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019.

After the surprise victory of the Liberal Party in Australia in June, the Labor Party’s radical abortion pledges were identified as a possible reason the party did not win the election. In the run up to the election, the party had pledged state funding for late-term abortions, which, in some states, would have meant funding abortions up to birth.

Spokesperson For Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“It is no surprise Jacinda Arden is losing popularity over this issue. Extreme abortion legislation is not a vote winning position. Only abortion ideologues want abortion up until birth. Everyone else can recognise the extreme barbarity of laws which permit abortion at 9 months gestation.”