Media Release Care Alliance 5 May 2017
Analysis of 21,277 submissions to the Health Select Committee’s investigation into end of life issues shows that 16,411 opposed the legalisation of euthanasia, while 4,142 supported legalisation.
Releasing the analysis today Matthew Jansen, Secretary of the Care Alliance, said “the submissions reflect the depth and breadth of public attitudes about euthanasia. We believe it is the largest number of submissions ever received by a Select Committee and, critically, they were unique rather than ‘postcard’ or ‘form’ submissions.”
“We became aware last year that pro-euthanasia advocates were spreading a message that opposing submissions did not meet their standards for length, uniqueness or the use of religious arguments. We thought that was disrespectful to the thousands of New Zealanders who took the time and effort to share their views with Parliament, for and against. So we set to work to find out the facts.”
Care Alliance volunteers read every submission to record views on legalising euthanasia, the length of the submission, and whether or not religious arguments were used by the submitter. This work was completed in April, and a random sample from the full analysis was checked by an independent research company. It concluded that “we can say with at least 95% confidence that the overall classification percentages are accurate within no more than 0.4% variation.”
The Health Select Committee investigation began in response to a petition presented to Parliament in June 2015.
“Quite simply, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society were able to get 8,975 signatures on a petition, but could muster less than half that number in actual submissions,” said Mr Jansen. “By contrast, 16,411 people took the opportunity to say no to euthanasia.”
Opposition to euthanasia was dominant across all submission lengths. For example, of the submissions longer than one page, 1,510 submissions opposed euthanasia while 523 supported its legalisation.
Mr Jansen added that “While the Care Alliance never argues this issue from a faith perspective, we respect the right of any New Zealander to do so, for or against, if they wish. That is a real and existing right protected by the Bill of Rights Act. In the event, more than 82 percent of submissions opposed to euthanasia contained no reference to religious arguments.”
Mr Jansen said that many of the submissions, for and against, contained deeply moving personal stories regarding illness, dying and suicide. “The Select Committee has been provided with incredible testimony. We trust that they will hear that there is much more that needs to be done to improve mental health, disability and end of life services in New Zealand, but that the overwhelming majority of submitters say that euthanasia is not a solution.”
Analysis of written submissions to Health Select Committee’s investigation into ending one’s life.
Background and methodology
Written submissions to the Select Committee closed on 1 February 2016. They were progressively uploaded to the Parliamentary Select
Committee (Submissions and Advice) website until 17 August 2016 when it appeared that all the submissions had been posted.
On 9 September 2016 a master list of these 21,514 submissions was created from the public website, including links to individual submissions.
Duplicate submissions were then removed. It was also found that a small number of submissions could not be coded (broken links, parts of
submissions missed during scanning, etc).
The final number of public submissions analysed here is 21,277.
The Care Alliance organised a small team of volunteers to read through each submission, and code for three characteristics.
1. Attitude to legalisation of euthanasia/assisted suicide.
• Support | neutral or unclear | oppose
2. Length of submission.
• 1 or 2 sentences | paragraph | up to a page | more than a page
3. Reference to religious arguments.
• None | some | mainly
An independent research company reviewed the coding of 500 submissions and concluded: “Having found no errors in the sample of 500, we
can say with at least 95% confidence that the overall classification percentages are accurate within no more than 0.4% variation.”