FAQ #15 | What do nurse and medical practitioners think of the End of Life Choice Act?
Under the End of Life Choice Act, nurse and medical practitioners will be required to directly participate in the provision of euthanasia and assisted suicide. A series of polls, surveys, and submissions suggest that there are a range of opinions within the medical community on the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide, with about 50% of respondents consistently opposing the legislation and about 35% of respondents consistently in favour of the legislation.
As survey responses are broken down into medical specialties, however, support and opposition numbers vary. For example, nurses are more likely to support assisted dying legislation, with an online survey from 2015 finding that 67% of nurses strongly or mostly agreed that “assisted dying should be legalised in New Zealand, assuming provision of appropriate guidelines and protocols.” In contrast, a study from 2019 found that most health professionals “who work exclusively with the dying” were opposed, while a 2016 study found that support for the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide amongst Australasian palliative care specialists was only 8.9%.
The different medical organisations also hold a range of views on the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide. For example:
- The New Zealand Medical Association “opposes euthanasia as unethical and harmful to vulnerable people and society.”
- The members of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners hold a wide range of views on the issue, and state that the emphasis should be on the “need to improve the funding of palliative care,” and that “euthanasia would need to be part of a wider discussion on looking after patients at the end of their lives.”
- The Australian New Zealand Society for Palliative Medicine is opposed to assisted dying legislation.
- The New Zealand Nursing Organisation membership includes a range of “widely differing views.”
- Hospice does not support a change in the law.
- The World Medical Association is firmly opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Authorised by J. Abernethy, 49 Cape Horn Road, Hillsborough, Auckland 1041
 Pam Oliver, et al, “New Zealand Doctors and Nurses Views on Legalising Assisted Dying in New Zealand,” New Zealand Medical Journal (2017) Vol 130, No. 1456, pp.10-26.
 Pam Oliver, Michael Wilson, and Phillipa Malpas, “New Zealand Doctors and Nurses Views on Legalising Assisted Dying in New Zealand.”
 Jessica Young et al, “The Euthanasia debate: synthesizing the evidence on New Zealanders attitudes,” Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, (2019) Vol. 14, Issue 1, pp.1-21.
 Jeremy Rees, “How do doctors feel about helping end lives?” Newsroom, 2 July 2018, https://www.newsroom.co.nz/euthanasia-what-the-medics-say, accessed 11 August 2020.