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Strong support for legalising euthanasia in 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, as MPs set to thrash out details

By Maiki Sherman and Anna Whyte

The New Zealand public strongly support legalising euthanasia, the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll has found.

It comes as ACT leader David Seymour put forward proposed changes to his End of Life Choice bill ahead of MPs thrashing out the details of the bill from tomorrow.  

In the poll eligible voters were asked: "Parliament is considering a new bill on euthanasia, do you think a person who is terminally or incurably ill should be able to request the assistance of a doctor to end their life?"

Yes - 72%
No - 20%
Don't know - 7%

*Percentages do not add to 100% due to rounding

Previous polls have found support remains in the 70s.

The 2018 poll found 76 per cent agreed with making euthanasia available, with 15 per cent against.

1 NEWS Colmar Brunton results from 2015 to 2019 of public perception of legalising euthanasia.
1 NEWS Colmar Brunton results from 2015 to 2019 of public perception of legalising euthanasia. Source: 1 NEWS

The 2017 poll had 74 per cent "yes" and 18 per cent "no", and the 2015 poll had 75 per cent "yes" and 21 per cent "no". Another poll in 2003 found 73 per cent were in favour passing a euthanasia bill into law. 

Those against had a sizeable jump from 2018 to 2019, increasing five per cent from 15 to 20 per cent. 

The groups of people that were more likely than average to support euthanasia were people with annual household incomes between $100,001 and $150,000 and New Zealand Europeans. 

The poll results come as MPs are set to thrash out the details of the End of Choice Life Bill, a proposed law change to make euthanasia legal for certain people. 

Last month, MPs voted 70-50 in support for the second reading of the bill, moving it to the committee of the House, where it is set to be debated in detail by all of Parliament before a final vote. 

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National’s Judith Collins was among those to speak movingly about the issue, ahead of the 70-50 vote. Source: Breakfast

MPs can put forward proposed changes, with NZ First suggesting a binding public referendum and ACT's David Seymour proposing his bill should be changed to rule out those with a grievous and irremediable medical condition and only include a person with a terminal illness with less than six months to live. 

Mr Seymour said some supporters may be disappointed his proposed amendments would create "one of the most conservative assisted dying regimes in the world, but I have listened to concerns from supporters and opponents."

He also wanted it explicitly stated that a person was ineligible if the reason for assisted dying was only if the person had a disability, mental illness or disorder or was of an advanced age.

Mr Seymour also wanted to ensure a health practitioner could not initiate a conversation about or suggest assisted dying to a patient, and more detailed criteria for the assessment of a person's mental competency. 

Today, MPs were still at odds over the bill. 

National's Shane Reti said today he was not supporting it. 

"I spent a whole career nurturing and protecting life, I'm not about to change that now," he said. 

Labour's Michael Woodhouse said euthanasia was not "necessary or appropriate", Jenny Salesa said her conscience "tells me I should vote no" and National's David Carter said he was "far from convinced that there won't be pressure put on old people in the future". 

His colleague Nicola Willis said she thought the safeguards Mr Seymour put forward "look good".

National's Parmjeet Parmar is voting against the bill based on her view that there needs to be more investment in science to help people going through a difficult phase.

Kiri Allan said there were "some technical amendments that can be made to the bill that would mean I would support it" after she voted against the bill in the second reading. 

Mr Seymour told 1 NEWS he would support New Zealand having a referendum on euthanasia. 

Between July 20 to 24, 1003 eligible voters were polled via landline and mobile phone. The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level. 

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Today ACT leader David Seymour put forward amendments to his End of Life Choice Bill. Source: 1 NEWS