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Media release from the End-of-Life Choice Society of NZ

22 Jun 2020 12:48 PM | Philip Patston (Administrator)

The campaign for a Yes vote at this year’s referendum on legalising medical aid in dying has been boosted by the launch of a new organisation called Yes for Compassion, dedicated to educating voters on the issue.

The End-of-Life Choice Society, which has campaigned for a law change for more than 40 years, welcomed the new group that is backed by many prominent New Zealanders, including Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Dame Margaret Sparrow, Dame Iritana Tǡwhiwhirangi and Professor Andrew Geddis.

Matt Vickers, former husband of Lecretia Seales, is supporting the group and has posted on its website a moving letter he wrote to his late wife this month on the fifth anniversary of her death.

New Zealanders will vote at the September 19 general election on the End of Life Choice Act passed by Parliament last December, which will allow terminally ill patients to get a doctor’s help to end their suffering.

Dr Libby Smales, a former hospice doctor and spokesperson for Yes for Compassion, said it was formed to ensure New Zealanders have all the facts they need to make an informed yes decision. “Some of us still suffer unbearably as we die,” she said. ”Passing this Act will give dying Kiwis a choice. It will allow us to choose to end suffering that is unbearable in the final stages of life and to die peacefully.”

Dr Mary Panko, President of the End-of-Life Choice Society, said: “Reliable opinion polls over the last 20 years show that an average of 68.3% of voters want a law change.

“One-third of doctors surveyed in 2018 supported it and others say they will join them once the new law is enacted. And 67% of nurses favoured it in Auckland University research in 2017.”

The Yes for Compassion website includes two videos of New Zealanders living with terminal illnesses who urge fellow Kiwis to vote Yes for them. It invites people to make their own short videos explaining why they support end of life choice.

For further information:

Dr Libby Smales 021 326 383

Dr Mary Panko 027 419 7802

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