Media Release Sunday 20th September 2020
Right to Life believes that the Labour led government supports defunding hospices that refuse to allow doctors to give a lethal injection to their patients, or assist in their suicide. Funding of New Zealand hospices is an important election issue and the public has a right to know the government’s policy.
Right to Life is concerned that The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, refused to advise our Society of government policy concerning the future government funding of hospices. In our letter dated 30th June, we asked:-
In the event of the euthanasia referendum receiving majority support, would you if re-elected give an assurance that your government would not withdraw funding for palliative care to hospices if they refuse to allow euthanasia in their hospice?
The Prime Minister, as is her custom referred our letter to the Minister of Health. the Hon Chris Hipkins. The Minister also refused to answer our question and stated, “The Act does not replace palliative care or health care services more generally. There is no government position for or against the Act. “
The Prime Minister claims that we have the most accountable and transparent government we have ever seen. Why then does she refuse to disclose to our nation this life threatening policy.
Right to Life questions this claim of neutrality, the End of Life Choice Act was a private members bill, however it had overwhelming government support.
Right to Life has every justification to believe that it is government policy to withdraw government funding from hospices that refuse to allow euthanasia and the killing of patients within hospices.
Right to Life believes that the intention of the Government to compel hospices to accept that doctors could kill patients with a lethal dose or assist them to commit suicide was clearly indicated in the defeat of the Supplementary Order Paper 295 moved by the Hon Michael Woodhouse. This SOP sought to amend the End of Life Choice Bill by upholding the right of hospices to “conscientiously object to including euthanasia”. It was defeated by 68 to 52. This important amendment was opposed by the Prime Minister and 33 Labour MPs, nine NZ First MPs, eight Green MPs and 15 National MPs, Jami-Lee Ross and Act’s David Seymour.
Hospice NZ had sought an urgent hearing in May in the High Court in Wellington to ask three questions. One was whether New Zealand’s proposed euthanasia law, the subject of a referendum, would have the effect of defeating the conscience right of hospices to protect their patients by prohibiting the killing of patients under the End of Life Choice Bill.
Justice Mallon in his judgement supported the right of hospices to prohibit euthanasia, however there was nothing to prevent the government authority from withholding health-care funding if a hospice refused to allow euthanasia.
The Attorney General submitted to the court  that if a DHB determined the most efficient way to fund assisted dying services in its area was to fund a provider who is willing to provide both palliative care and assisted dying services, it must be entitled to do so. Such a decision would not be to discriminate against those holding a conscientious objection. Rather, it would be one of effective allocation of funding to service providers in accordance with the statutory requirement on a DHB that it “seek the optimum arrangement for the most effective and efficient delivery of health services in order to meet local, regional and national needs”.
Euthanasia is not health care, it is about terminating the life of a vulnerable patient. It is diametrically opposed to the objective of palliative care, to neither hasten nor postpone death.There are 33 hospices in New Zealand providing palliative care for those seriously ill or in a terminal condition. Government funding accounts for 60 percent of the funding required to maintain hospices.
Right to Life’s requests that citizens vote no to the euthanasia referendum to protect the vulnerable in our community and to protect our hospices who are providing world class palliative care.
Right to Life
Authorised by Philip Creed, Right to Life, 28 Ensors Rd, Opawa, Christchurch.