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New poll: strong support for medical aid in dying

24 May 18

New poll: strong support for medical aid in dying
2m+ adults support medical help to die

A Horizon Research survey finds 65% of respondents - equivalent to 2,102,000 adults 18+ - supported the legalisation of some form of medical aid in dying in New Zealand – with 38% (equivalent to 1,164,000 adults 18+) rating their support as “strong”. 


The results are from a survey of 1,121 members of Horizon Research’s national panel, which represent the New Zealand adult population (18+) at the 2013 Census.  The survey looked at adult New Zealanders’ support or opposition to various aspects of medical aid in dying. it was comissioned by the End of Life Choice Society.


Independently in March Horizon also conducted a survey among general practitioners subscribing to New Zealand Doctor magazine.


The March nationwide adult poll finds:


Support and opposition for medical aid in dying


65% of respondents - equivalent to 2,102,000 adults 18+ - supported the legalisation of some form of medical aid in dying in New Zealand – with 38% (equivalent to 1,164,000 adults 18+) rating their support as “strong”. 


14%, equivalent to around 435,000 New Zealanders 18+, opposed any legalisation of medical aid in dying, while 13% neither supported nor opposed it and 7% said they did not know.


A majority of the 2017 general election voters for each party currently in Parliament supported the legalisation of some form of medical aid in dying.


Medical assistance to die – preferred method


Asked to choose between self-ingestion or intravenous administration of drugs to medically aid death, more respondents indicated that they had no specific preference than indicated either option.  Where a preference was declared by those in support of legalisation of medical aid in dying, it was nearly twice as likely to be for intravenous administration than self-ingestion.


Conscientious objection from doctors


Respondents were asked whether they thought that a doctor, who had a conscientious objection and who would not provide assistance to die, should be obliged by law to refer a person requesting medical aid in dying to another doctor, who would arrange for the request to be considered.


60% of respondents overall - equivalent to around 1,916,000 New Zealanders 18+ - supported such a requirement.  Almost all of this support came from those who supported legalisation of medical aid in dying being legalised.


A majority of the 2017 general election voters for each party currently in Parliament supported a requirement for a doctor to refer a patient requesting medical aid in dying to another doctor if they had a conscientious objection to providing assistance to die.


End of Life Choice Directive


Respondents were asked whether they would you support or oppose passing a law in New Zealand which would legalise an End of Life Choice Directive. This would allow a person to authorise medical aid in dying, in certain circumstances, should they later become incompetent.


As with the other questions, there was majority support from respondents, 64% of whom felt that End of Life Choice Directives should be legalised - equivalent to around 2,054,000 New Zealanders 18+


A majority of the 2017 general election voters for each party currently in parliament supported legalisation of this type of End of Life Choice Directive.


Click here to download the full report.


Comments are welcome at Horizon's Facebook page.