“The voters of New Zealand have spoken, and we are naturally extremely
disappointed with the outcome of the End of Life Choice Act Referendum,”
Care Alliance spokesperson Doctor Sinead Donnelly says. “This is not
what we worked for.”
“While we know and accept that the law will now come into force in 12
months’ time, we also know that it is a law that will create significant
problems and place many vulnerable New Zealanders at risk of a wrongful
and premature death. That worries us greatly.
“One of the critical things going forward is to capture accurate
information around the application of the Act and the reasons people are
choosing it. It is important that the law operates in a fully
transparent way and that people will be fully accountable, including the
Ministry of Health. We will advocate strongly for this.
“The result does not change the fact that this law is poorly drafted and
dangerous with weak or non-existent safeguards. As we have said on many
occasions, it exposes vulnerable people to too many risks; it is weaker
than similar overseas laws; it won’t lead to better health outcomes for
the most disadvantaged New Zealanders, including Pasifika and Maori who
die on average 7 years earlier than the rest of us.
“It is well known that access to quality palliative in New Zealand
depends on your postcode. Meanwhile, it is also well established
overseas that people choose an assisted death because they lack access
to other care options and/or because they feel they are a burden to
their family or to an over-stretched health system. To us that is
unacceptable. Until palliative care is properly resourced, we know that
the choice of an assisted death will not be a real choice for many
people and therein lies a challenge for us all.
“We must work harder than we ever have to bring about more equitable
access to good healthcare, including quality palliative care, to all in
New Zealand and to mitigate the not inconsiderable risks that accompany
this very dangerous and weak law. Good compassionate and dignified care
demands nothing less. We will continue to advocate for the needs of the