New Zealand will soon vote on whether terminally-ill people should be able to ask for help to end their life.
Nelson Tasman Hospice conscientiously objects to the End of Life Choice Act 2019, and is committed to caring for every member of the community, regardless of their personal choice about assisted dying.
This October, New Zealand will go to the polls to choose our next Government. At the same time, two referendums will be held: A non-binding referendum on cannabis legalisation and control, and a binding referendum on whether to allow someone who is terminally ill to legally request assisted dying to end their life. This Act is called the End of Life Choice Act 2019. The process is also known as voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying.
The Nelson Tasman Hospice accepts that all people have freedom of choice and should they wish to choose assisted dying, we will continue to provide support and palliative care to the patient and their family/whānau, which includes bereavement support and counselling.
This is what Hospice has always done. We will continue our commitment to providing excellent palliative care to everyone, regardless of the outcome of the referendum this October.
Hospice care is about managing/easing pain and allowing a person to live the last weeks, months, or years of their life with dignity and respect. We believe palliative care is the best option for people living with terminal illness and their families, helping them and everyone around them come to terms with this normal part of life.
As experts in providing palliative care, with a long-established philosophy of neither delaying nor hastening death, Nelson Tasman Hospice conscientiously objects to assisted death. A High Court declaratory judgement of June 2020 allows this; it states that individual medical professionals and institutions are not under any obligation to assist with dying if they have a conscientious objection, but must refer people to the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand (SCENZ) group, which would be established should the Act become law.
If it does, we will meet our obligation to refer somebody who requests assisted dying to SCENZ, though the Nelson Tasman Hospice as an organisation will not be involved in assisting anybody in ending their life, as described in the Act. Regardless, we want to assure you that we will always be there to serve the Nelson and Tasman community as professionally and faithfully as we have done for more than 30 years.
The referendum is a big decision for every voter, and we each have a responsibility to fully understand what we are voting on.
More information on these choices is available at the following sites: