By Jack Havill, president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand
To prevent suffering at the end of life, including pain that cannot be relieved by drugs. Some patients don’t want to be anaesthetised for their last days.
To maintain dignity in death. Terminally ill patients often lose control of their bodily functions and would prefer to die before becoming completely dependent on carers.
To retain personal control and be able to say when and how those with unbearable suffering die.
To allow terminally ill people who want to end their suffering to die in the company of friends and family and not have to commit suicide alone. While suicide is legal, a loved one who assists, or is even present at the time, risks prison.
To allow sufferers to depart this life while still possessing their mental faculties. This would allow dignified goodbyes to friends and relatives and limit mutual distress.
To eliminate compassionate law-breaking which risks prosecution. It is recognised that some family members and doctors and nurses already assist patients begging for help to die because they cannot bear to see the suffering. A law change would legitimise their humane actions.
Surveys show that nearly seven out of 10 New Zealanders across every section of society favour End-Of-Life Choice for those who qualify and request it. Many are angry after watching and caring for family members who have suffered long drawn out deaths and want a good death for themselves.