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Rt. Hon Helen Clark who served as the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand, released a statement this morning on the End of Like Choice Act.
The Act gives people suffering from a terminal illness the option of requesting assisted dying. Parliament has accordingly passed the End of Life Choice Act, but it has not come into effect. The Act will only come into effect if more than 50% of voters in the referendum for the End of Life Choice Act vote a ‘Yes’.
Rt. Hon Helen Clark says that she believes the act is ‘compassionate’ allowing people who are suffering have the right to say their farewells as it would be a choice.
“I have spent many years travelling the world as part of my work, meeting people of all beliefs and ideals. One thing that stands out for me is how so many respect the way we do things in New Zealand – our democracy, our sense of fair-play, and our compassion.”
“New Zealanders are now facing a referendum on October 17, held in conjunction with the General Election, on whether or not the End of Life Choice Act should come into force. It has been passed in Parliament, but will only come into force if there is a majority vote for it in the referendum,” Clark said.
A person would not be eligible to ask for assisted dying if the only reason they give is that they have a mental disorder or mental illness, or have a disability of any kind, or are of advanced age.
The eligibilities for assisted dying are that you must be over 18 years, be a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand, suffer from a terminal illness that’s likely to end their life within six months, have a significant and ongoing decline in physical capability, experience unbearable suffering that cannot be erased and be able to make an informed decision about assisted dying.
The vote according to Rt. Hon Helen Clark needs to be encouraged to make a decision, on who believes in compassion and dignity to vote ‘YES’ at the polls on October 17th.
“Don’t let fear or misinformation get in the way of compassion.”
“The Act gives adults of sound mind who are terminally ill, have a significant and ongoing decline in physical capability, are experiencing unbearable suffering that cannot be eased, and are likely to die within the next six months the option to choose how, when and where they die,” Clark said.
“You cannot access this Act if you have a mental illness. You cannot access this Act if you have a disability alone. You must have a terminal illness which is likely to end your life in the next six months. You cannot be coerced to take up this Act’s provisions.”
“The option to choose when to end one’s life will only be available to that tiny proportion of New Zealanders who meet all the rigorous criteria set out in the law. There are more safeguards in this Act than in any other piece of comparable legislation enacted elsewhere in the world.”
Clarke believes those who do oppose the Act, clearly ‘would not wish to invoke’ — suggesting that others shouldn’t be prevented from having the choice to do so by voting.
“I urge you to speak to those in your family and other networks to reassure them that this Act is compassionate and humane and has strong safeguards,” Clark said.