Euthanasia already happening in hospitals - PM

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2012
john key std3
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ
TIMING UNCERTAIN: John Key hopes the partial sale of Mighty River Power will go ahead as planned this year.
Opinion poll

Do you support legalising euthanasia?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Opinions on Euthanasia

Related Links

Locked-in sufferer Tony Nicklinson dies

Relevant offers

Politics

Taking a sledgehammer to homelessness Bill English attends Ratana for first time as Prime Minister - and a day earlier than expected Christchurch City Council opposes plan to give district health boards power to decide on fluoridation 'Labour has to step up' for Maori, Turia says ACT leader David Seymour calls for action on housing affordability US scrapping TPP bad for NZ - English Sugar content too high in nearly half the drinks Kiwis kids can buy, study finds American ex-pats show their colours as hundreds protest Donald Trump's inauguration in Wellington Sam Sachdeva: Greens take the lead as parties prepare candidates for 2017 election David Slack: No need to go overboard

Prime Minister John Key says euthanasia already happens in our hospitals - and if he was terminally ill, he would consider it.

Doctors disagreed with him last night, saying his view of the situation was too simplistic.

Mr Key said yesterday that he could understand the argument that legalising euthanasia might put pressure on the elderly to end their lives early, in the face of "rapacious grandkids", but "I don't really buy that argument".

"I think there's a lot of euthanasia that effectively happens in our hospitals," he told Newstalk ZB.

". . . If I had terminal cancer, I had a few weeks to live, I was in tremendous amount of pain - if they just effectively wanted to turn off the switch and legalise that by legalising euthanasia, I'd want that."

Labour MP Maryan Street is drafting a member's bill to legalise euthanasia - and the emotive subject is already sparking debate even before it is in the ballot.

Mr Key signalled his broad support for euthanasia, but said he was not sure if he could support Ms Street's bill, which looked likely to have some "quirks" that he did not agree with.

"So I may or may not vote for that bill, [but] the broader principle I support."

In 2003, he supported a bill promoted by NZ First MP Peter Brown legalising euthanasia. It was defeated on its first vote.

Ian Powell, director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, which represents senior doctors, said he did not think euthanasia was happening in hospitals the way Mr Key made it out to be.

"The situation is much more complex than that . . . Sometimes continuing a treatment can prolong the agony for a patient, and not even keep the patient alive.

"By not prolonging the agony . . . even though the intent is not for the patient to die, it is sometimes a consequence."

Also yesterday, Mr Key revealed that his views on gay marriage had changed, largely in response to having children.

He has stated his support for a bill legalising gay marriage, but said: "If you asked me questions on same-sex marriage 20 or 30 years ago, I might have taken a different view.

"But the way I look at the world now is I look at our own kids and my No 1 priority for our children is to be happy, healthy and safe.

"I don't think they are gay, but if they came along and said they were, I wouldn't love them any less."

Ad Feedback

*Comments for this story have now closed.

- The Dominion Post

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content