John Key supports euthanasia legislation review

JESSICA TASMAN-JONES
Last updated 16:31 08/07/2011

Prime Minister John Key has indicated he supports looking at the legislation surrounding euthanasia.

''That's because I think, while it's a sensitive issue that you would have to make sure was properly covered, I think there have also been some tragic cases where we have seen people before the courts where they have [assisted in euthanasia] at the will of the person they have ended their lives for,'' he told a Family First forum in Auckland today.

Secretary of Voluntary Euthanasia New Zealand Pat Hubbard said Key's comments were ''extraordinarily good news'' for the ''death with dignity'' group.

Hubbard said many MPs individually expressed their support for pro-euthanasia legislation but hearing Key support taking another look at the issues was ''very encouraging''.

She said Key's views were in line with the public.

Randomised polls showed public support for euthanasia in New Zealand, which sat around 70 per cent, she said.

''There are a lot of people saying this is not a good situation. We have all these aging people and people with chronic diseases who are being kept alive artificially, and a lot of them might not prefer to be kept alive artificially.''

Hubbard said given the lengthy process of getting legislation passed through parliament any action from politicians was unlikely before this year's general election.

The last time the issue of euthanasia was brought before parliament was with New Zealand First MP Peter Brown's Death with Dignity bill in 2003.

It was defeated by three votes.

At the time John Key, then an opposition MP, said it would be hard to implement such a law.

''Drawing the line to determine at what stage of an individual's illness the voluntary euthanasia took place would be too difficult for those working in the field,'' he said.

Key explained today that he voted in favour of that bill going to the select committee stage.

Family First Director Bob McCoskrie said he didn't mind politicians again looking into euthanasia but his organisation did not support it.

''Our argument has always been to improve and make our palliative care world class and then the need for euthanasia is weakened,'' he said.

He said the conviction of people who assisted the suicide of their loved ones sent the ''right societal message''.

Auckland-born scientist Sean Davison is currently before the courts over the attempted murder of his mother in 2006.

His charges followed the publication of his book, Before We Say Goodbye, in which he admitted giving his mother morphine before she died.

Another pro-euthanasia campaigner, Lesley Martin, was convicted and sentenced in 2004 under similar circumstances following the publication of her book To Die Like a Dog.

More than 220 delegates representing over 85 family-focused organisations and groups were at the sixth annual Family First conference organised by Family First NZ today.

- Stuff

98 comments
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Working_mum   #1   05:15 pm Jul 08 2011

The day this comes in will be a great day you would be able to choose to go without alot of pain if you are that sick

Russ   #2   05:16 pm Jul 08 2011

It is against gods will to take ones own life. Shame on you sinners

Brent D   #3   05:18 pm Jul 08 2011

So he is going to ban smoking then?

MRG   #4   05:18 pm Jul 08 2011

Good.

If a vet had treated a dog the way my father was treated by a hospital, he would be in prison.

Dying with dignity needs to be a choice for the terminally ill.

Sheelagh   #5   05:19 pm Jul 08 2011

Well done Mr Key.

Anyone who has witnessed a loved one one die in agony and with loss of dignity will be pleased to hear this.

We don't let animals suffer, and if we did, we would be regarded as cruel and selfish.

I have always thought that if it is known that the person has no chance of existing with a good quality of life,that person should be allowed to die in peace.It could be that they have it in their will,two medical professionals agreeing there is no chance of improvement or the patient themselves,in sound mind makes their wishes known.

Personally I would like to make the decision about my own life should I be in the situation where hope does not seem to be a possibility.I don't want to be reliant on others to perform tasks which would affect my dignity. Watching a loved one die in pain is something that no human being should have to endure.

Lanthanide   #6   05:28 pm Jul 08 2011

Quick! Labour's capital gains tax is getting too much airtime!

Must change subject...

Brian   #7   05:41 pm Jul 08 2011

We have seen too many of our family, young and old, dying in agony, not to agree with John Key in this matter. For someone's sake (God's?), let common sense prevail in this country, at last, and look at euthanasia legislation! Religion has no place in our society any longer. Why should Churches and any other Groups with vested interest have any say. Let New Zealanders decide.

Cassy   #8   05:45 pm Jul 08 2011

I fully support this being investigated by the government. Obviously it's going to be a controversial issue, but I think it needs to be addressed. I don't think improved paliative care is the answer. We don't have enough experienced staff to provide top quality care, and we don't have the drugs to reverse the conditions. At best we prolong the patients in a state of pain and disability.

Carl9   #9   05:50 pm Jul 08 2011

Euthanasia is a good thing, provided the right circumstances. I support a review of it's legislation.

jill   #10   05:57 pm Jul 08 2011

If Holland and Switzerland (2 very well run countries) can mange to legalise euthanasia then I am sure NZ can follow suit. I find it depressing that at the end of a persons life they aren't allowed to make their own decision about when they want to end their life and how. Surely it is a basic Human Right to make decisions about ones own life.


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