Terminally ill man David Stephens pleas for right to die video

IAIN MCGREGOR/Stuff.co.nz

David Stephens speaks before his death about motor neurone disease and euthanasia.

Motor neurone sufferer David Stephens wants the right to choose when he will die.

In just a year, the incurable neurological disease has left the 64-year-old Canterbury father, grandfather and former businessman unable to eat, struggling for breath and facing life without control of his body.

He wonders when his "crap" life will end.

Your stance on euthanasia

Share your stories, photos and videos.

Stephens is speaking out for his right to choose when to die as ACT MP David Seymour launches a bill in Parliament to legalise voluntary euthanasia. 

The controversial issue is the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry, after Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales' failed bid to get the courts to rule in favour of assisted suicide.

She died in June, learning just hours before her death that Justice David Collins had ruled Parliament was the only body able to make euthanasia legal.

David Stephens, 64, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year and wants the right to choose when he dies.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

David Stephens, 64, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year and wants the right to choose when he dies.

Stephens, of Tai Tapu, was diagnosed with motor neurone, which causes unstoppable deterioration of movements and bodily functions, in August last year. 

His face drawn, Stephens is frail, and his breath becomes shallow as he pants constantly with the effort.

Stephens wants to end his life when he can no longer walk or talk. He cannot see the point in continuing to exist in such a state.

David Stephens requires fulltime care and wants to end his life when he can no longer walk or talk.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

David Stephens requires fulltime care and wants to end his life when he can no longer walk or talk.

He requires help from his fulltime carer and daughter, Kim, and his wife, Jenny.  

Ad Feedback

No longer able to eat, he has two-hourly milkshakes dispensed through a tube in his stomach.

"I can't get dressed; I've never been a person to sit around doing nothing."

When asked about his typical day Stephens said he liked going to bed at night.

"There are still positive things but its a long day."

Stephens has no idea how long he has to live.

"Some people can live for up to 10 years . . . the average person takes two years to die, but I don't know."

Stephens had been spurred by Seales' actions to call for a law change.

"I just thought maybe they can do something about it before it gets really bad - rather than sitting around knowing you're going to die . . . I mean it makes sense doesn't it, when you think about it."

READ MORE:
David Seymour's voluntary euthanasia bill to be lodged in Parliament
* Voluntary euthanasia petition presented to Parliament
Euthanasia debate back on the political agenda

Prime Minister John Key has made clear that while he backed an inquiry, the Government would not put euthanasia on its own work programme. 

Seymour said a private members bill was the only option left to change the law. 

"The End of Life Choice Bill is a response to the anguish faced by a small but significant minority of people with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill, as they anticipate the prospect of intolerable suffering and the indignity of the final few days and weeks of their lives.

"The motivation for this Bill is compassion. It allows people who so choose and are eligible under this Bill to end their life in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones," he said.

Any vote on euthanasia would be a conscience vote, but it could be months or longer before Seymour's bill was pulled from the ballot. 

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the party did not have a stance, but his personal view was to support the bill to its first reading.

Beyond that, it would depend whether the safeguards to prevent abuse of such a law were at the right setting, he said.

Finance Minister Bill English, who is Catholic, said he would not support the bill if it appeared before the house. 

"No-one has been able to write a euthanasia law that sufficiently protects the vulnerable."

Seymour said his bill "carefully defined those eligible for assisted dying". 

"It details a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure this is a free choice made without coercion, and outlines a stringent series of steps to ensure the person is mentally capable of understanding the nature and consequences of assisted dying."

ACT commissioned a poll of 2800 people, which Seymour said showed showed 66 per cent of the public favoured allowing assisted dying, 38 per cent were strongly in favour and 20 per cent were opposed.

A petition to hold an inquiry was heard on Wednesday before Parliament's Health Select Committee. It was instigated by the voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand and former Labour MP Maryan Street.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Learning from Big Apple's finest

Demitra Sealy as Doll Common in the play Playhouse Creatures by April De Angelis.

Demitra Sealy is accepted for The Actors Studio in New York City to study under Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino.

No happy ending for toy story

Albany House has had a theft from the neighbouring hub construction site and also the toys this year.

It's been a merry-go-round for a community organisation trying to get their stolen toys back.

Addressing the isolation of heart related illnesses

Paul Newman pictured here with his wife Donna shares his  journey from debilitating illness to recovery following a ...

On line storytelling hub provides emotional relief for those living with heart disease.

Kerikeri nursery reopens after myrtle rust findings

Kerikeri nurseryman Tom Lindesay is glad to be back open for business after one month in lockdown following myrtle rust ...

It's been a tough month for Kerikeri Plant Production after myrtle rust was found there - but they've finally been allowed to reopen.

Wellington

Every beat a new life

Four-year-old Ashley Hamilton doesn't let the hole in her heart stop her from enjoying life. She recently starred in a ...

Four-year-old Ashley loves to try new things including acting and doesn't let a hole in her heart stop her

Investigation widens

Former MoT manager Joanne Harrison had a stint at Corrections - before she was jailed.

Another public agency has had to investigate after hiring fraudster Joanne Harrison.

Crash after police chase

Emergency services are at the scene of a car that hit a powerpole near the intersection of Hereford St and Champion St ...

 A police chase has ended with police and a fleeing car hitting lamp posts.

More plans for Eva St

Student housing in the Eva and Leeds Street Laneway could be refurbished for another restaurant to be added to the urban hub.

Wellington's hipster laneway could see more development in two buildings that house students.

Canterbury

Security guard buries $130k

Security guard Tony John Williams, 37, stole $179,300 from an ATM machine and buried most in his garden.

Tony Williams raided the ATM he was meant to guard, burying most of the cash in his garden.

Flight 'spitter' charged

Kiri Marsh outside the Christchurch District Court after she was charged with assault.

Kiri Marsh, 32, allegedly spat at flight attendant and yelled for plane to ''go faster''.

Thick fog hid crash scene video

A member of public came across the crash about two hours after the car hit a tree on Tuesday morning.

Locals heard the crash, but could not find the wreckage. Two hours later, a young man was found dead.

Belief in dog wins it a home

Holden wrapped in a blanket in his first night at home with Carole Worley

All he wanted to do was be with people, but people did not want him.

Waikato

Bomb claims Kiwi's pen pal video

A triptych of Skye's best friend, Georgina Callander, including the centre shot of Georgina posing with American popstar ...

Best friends spoke that morning but Manchester explosion left 'horrible gut feeling'.

Priest's new victims

Mark Mannix Brown, 74, appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Tuesday.

A former priest jailed for molesting boys in the 1970s and 80s has admitted charges against three new victims.

Couple $27m richer

The winning lotto was brought from Thames Four Square owned by Sukhpal Singh.

A Thames couple have come forward with the golden Lotto ticket.

Ham East rejuvenation starts

The new playground in Steele Park, as shown in the concept design for the Hamilton East Neighbourhood Plan.

But one councillor says Hamilton East is already thriving and will continue to do so if council keeps its sticky fingers out of it.

Taranaki

Euthanasia in NZ liable to abuse

Professor Jan Berheim is a Belgian medical expert and euthanasia advocate. He was invited to New Zealand by the ...

A law change would protect caregivers from undue prosecution.

Nutrition key to fitness

Haney Kahu has made the transition from prop to triathlete through hard work and attention to his diet.

Former prop says age not a barrier to fitness.

Hall to turn 100, present planned

The Whareroa Social Hall of 1918, better known as the Ramanui School Hall today.

A hall that is turning 100 has been moved and had a 'bit of a whack up' in the past, will hopefully be renovated again.

Big Jims to reopen

Taranaki plant nursery Big Jim's has been cleared to reopen, two weeks after after myrtle rust was detected on plants.

Positive myrtle rust findings grow as nurseries reopen

Manawatu

Balancing act for A+ grades

Farming is in the blood for Sam Pike.

Growing up on a Rangitikei farm Sam Pike always knew an agricultural career was in the blood.  

Event fund established

Major events such as the New Zealand PGA golf championship held at the Manawatu Golf Club will be eligible for a share ...

Ratepayers district-wide will contribute to a proposed $100,000 fund for "major events". 

Flytipping a $52,000 headache

The Manawatu District Council is cracking down on illegal fly-tipping.

More than 140 reports of wrongful dumping recorded this year in Manawatu and Rangtikei.

'Slasher-like' weapon

Footage from the robbery of a Liquorland store in Palmerston North.

Police release CCTV showing robbers, who hit a shop attendant.

Nelson

Iwi challenges water bottling

Te Waikoropupu Springs is considered sacred to local iwi.

A plan to bottle thousands of cubic metres of water from a Tasman spring has been dealt a blow after a local iwi appeal.

Nelson still top

Housing construction has helped fuel Nelson's run at the top of an economic scoreboard.

Nelson stays New Zealand's top-performing region in an economic scoreboard.

Poverty hitting region's youngest

Kay Guyton runs Angel in My Street and works to support Stoke families and children in poverty.

The 2016 Technical Report on Child Poverty found more than 1400 children in Nelson and Tasman were living below the poverty line. 

Talley's fighting consent terms

Talley's has applied for a 35-year term for a bundle of permits it seeks.

Talley's is challenging some of the proposed conditions to its continued discharge from its Motueka site.

Marlborough

Paradise found in Pelorus

Debra and Michael Brennan moved to Pelorus after seeking an alternative to city life.

Exhausted by city life, Debra and Michael Brennan sought a change... and boy did they find it.

Beer burglar jailed

Walter Narayan was told about the outdoor fridge as a place where he could get beer, his lawyer said. (File photo)

He went back to the well one too many times. The well being someone else's outdoor fridge.

Praise the paua pearl video

Pearl inserts are used to grow the stones.

Paua farmers on the edge of the Marlborough Sounds say their love of the marine mollusc borders on worship.

Meth accused back in court

Four men facing meth-dealing charges are back at the Blenheim District Court.

Four men were charged after police raided six properties earlier this month.

South Canterbury

Brekkie for a good cause

Pink Ribbon Breakfast at the Arowhenua Marae in Temuka. Pictured are Wendy Moore (left) and Shirley McPherson (right).

The Arowhenua Marae was transformed into a sea of pink to support a good cause.

Rubbish fire suspicious

A fire at the back of the Sanford factory is being treated as suspicious

 A fire near Timaru's port is being treated as suspicious

Seeking right woman for the job

The rights say one actor must be white, one must be black and the third must be Asian

Timaru show could be abandoned unless actor found for very specific role.

Protection help sought

Urban designer Nigel Gilkison made a submission on behalf of the Timaru Civic Trust. The trust bought the 1871 Landing ...

"The onus is put on the owners... essentially they get no compensation for having to do that."

Southland

Bluff oyster numbers decline

Bluff Oyster Festival Chairman John Edminstin in front of the crowd at the Bluff Oyster Festival.

The results of a recent NIWA survey has shown replenishment rates in the Foveaux strait Oyster fishery have lowered since 2012.

Aurora on show

Te Anau resident Chris Watson captured this stunning panorama from the Ivon Wilson Park on the outskirts of the town.

Photographers were out in force on Sunday capturing the dazzling Southern Lights.

Barclay supporting centre

Lumsden Maternity's contract with the Southern District Health Board expires on July 31.

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay says he will not let the Lumsden Maternity Centre close.

Sea lions could scupper fishery

A juvenile sea lion in Port Pegasus in January 2016. In New Zealand sea lions are ranked as "nationally critical" on the ...

Would a new aquaculture project on Stewart Island affect the sea lion colony?

Ad Feedback