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Voluntary euthanasia concern

Last updated 08:51 30/05/2014

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Decriminalising voluntary euthanasia could usher in an era of "therapeutic killing", a new report warns.

The Family First-commissioned report "Killing Me Softly - Should Euthanasia be legalised" by law professor Rex Ahdar from Otago University, warns of the potential for further elder abuse with voluntary euthanasia.

Ahdar says while safeguards can be put in place, they can only go so far and would likely be abused.

He says terminally ill people and those with other serious conditions were vulnerable to self-imposed pressure.

Ahdar's report says the majority of the medical profession around the world are against introducing voluntary euthanasia.

At times a doctor could move from being a healer to a killer, he says.

In Belgium's Flemish region, a study found 32 per cent of all assisted deaths were done without patient consent, Ahdar says.

Family First commissioned the report after Labour MP Maryan Street promised to look at changing the law after September's election.

There have been three previous attempts to change the law in New Zealand.

First was Michael Laws' The Death With Dignity Bill in 1995, then New Zealand First MP Peter Brown introduced a bill with the same name in 2003.

Last year Street introduced The End of Life Choice Bill, but it was later withdrawn.

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- Eastern Courier

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