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NZ Election: End of Life Choice kōrero: Safeguards and the right to choose

 From left, Richard Pamatatau, Dr Huhana Hickey, Dr Kelly Feng, Dr Collin Tukuitonga
Source: RNZ Pacific

Manukau, NEW ZEALAND — Voters need to enter the booth having done their research, say health, ethics and disability specialists at the RNZ-Pacific Media Network debate on the End of Life Choice Bill.

Distilling a law that can determine life or death to a 'yes' or 'no' vote is a heavy burden, one that requires voters to contemplate deeply and do their research before entering.

That's the call from four health, ethics and disability specialists who gathered in Manukau for the debate on the End of Life Choice Bill, where voters will decide whether or not to legalise euthanasia.

Taking part were Dr Kelly Feng, the director of Asian Family Health Services; Dr Huhana Hickey, a human rights lawyer and disability advocate; Richard Pamatatau, a journalism lecturer at AUT who specialises in human rights and ethics; and Dr Collin Tukuitonga, associate dean Pacific at Auckland University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Unlike the cannabis referendum, this vote will decide the future of a bill that's already been written and passed by parliament. This referendum is seeking the public's approval to bring it into effect.

But are there enough safeguards in the Act to prevent wrongful deaths?

"Medicine is a science, but the application of medicine is an art," Dr Tukuitonga said.

But also, what cultural considerations are also playing a part, and do these overwrite a person's right to choose?