In late 2015 I did a very large poll on attitudes towards euthanasia. We polled 2,800 adult New Zealanders which has a maximum margin of error of 1.9%. We asked:
Some people believe that the law should be changed to allow doctors to assist in ending the life of a person with an incurable illness, if the patient requests it. What is your view on whether voluntary euthanasia should be legal – strongly oppose, somewhat oppose, somewhat favour, strongly favour?
The overall results were 66% support and just 20% opposed. This is broadly in line with other polls. A more recent Colmar Brunton found 74% in favour and 18% opposed.
In the Curia poll those with strong opinions were also in support. 38% said they strongly support and only 13% strongly oppose. 28% were somewhat support and 7% somewhat oppose.
What I found most interesting is the breakdown by party vote. Here’s how supporters of the four main parties answered:
- Greens 77% support, 12% oppose = net +65%
- National 69% support, 18% oppose = net +51%
- NZ First 69% support, 19% oppose = net +50%
- Labour 63% support, 19% oppose = net +44%
So supporters of all four parties were very strongly in support. However National Party voters were even more supportive than Labour voters. National voters are overwhelmingly in favour. 39% strongly support and 30% somewhat support against just 12% strongly oppose and 6% somewhat oppose.
When the End of Life Choice Bill comes up for first reading, I hope many National MPs vote for it. Their supporters want New Zealanders to have a choice, and will want to see this specific bill go to select committee so people can submit on it.
There are a small group of New Zealanders who are against euthanasia, no matter what the safeguards are. I respect their convictions but disagree their convictions should determine the law for everyone else.
For most New Zealanders I think it is about making sure there are robust safeguards in place, so that those facing death have a choice about how their life should end. That is why I hope the End of Life Choice Bill gets voted by the House at its first reading to progress to select committee, so New Zealanders can submit on the bill and debate whether the safeguards are adequate and if not how it can be improved. You can read about some of the safeguards in a q+a here.