A lobby group comprising 22 medical, law and ethics professionals, claims that the End of Life Choice Act, which will be the subject of a referendum on October 17, is a risk not worth taking.
Peter Thirkell, chairman of Vote No to the End of Life Act, said two-thirds of New Zealanders were unaware that there was to be a referendum on euthanasia at next month's election, yet the "risky and badly-constructed End of Life Choice Act" would become law with a simple majority.
His group's aim was to encourage people to consider what was in the Act, and the implications of making it law.
d of Life Act, a group of medical, law and ethics professionals who have recently launched their campaign heading into October's election.
"Put simply, the Act is flawed. It will put vulnerable people at risk and will have too many unintended, negative consequences. We are encouraging New Zealanders to Vote No to stop this badly conceived Act," he said.
The campaign was focused on six reasons for people to vote no. The primary reasons were that the Act was "bad law," that the focus needed to be on providing compassionate care, and the "overwhelming" opposition of New Zealand doctors, more than 1500 of whom had signed an open letter to oppose the Act as part of the 'Doctors Say No' campaign.
The New Zealand Medical Association was also opposed.
"There is also the unprecedented aspect of this being the first time an Act has gone to a binding referendum in New Zealand," Thirkell said.
"Whatever your views of death and dying, this Act is poor legislation because it does not fully protect people from a wrongful death. Any New Zealander with a terminal illness of six months or less is at risk of an early death through a wrong diagnosis, a wrong judgement about how long they have to live, and pressure from uncaring or abusive family members.
"The fact that 98 per cent of palliative care professionals and most doctors are opposed reinforces how risky and flawed the Act is. We've never had a fully-drafted Act go to referendum in New Zealand before, and few are aware of the implications of this."
The group was encouraging people to visit the website www.riskylaw.nz and follow their social media channels on Facebook and Instagram so they could make an informed decision ahead of the referendum. A number of experts in the field were available to speak at community events, and speakers could be people requested via the website.
"New Zealanders need to take the time to look at what is exactly in this Act. Only one in five people know what is in it," he added.
"There is the very real prospect that most New Zealanders will wake up on the morning after the referendum and not realise what they have voted to become law. There will be no going back, and we implore New Zealanders to do their research."