New Zealand prime minister endorses euthanasia

Michael Cook
Aug 24, 2012
Reproduced with Permission

The New Zealand prime minister has given legalised euthanasia a ringing personal endorsement. John Key, leader of the National Party, the largest party on the conservative wing of NZ politics, told a local radio station that he would like to have the option of euthanasia if he were terminally ill and in great pain.

"I look at a situation where I think there's a lot of euthanasia that effectively happens in our hospitals. I just look at it and say 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."

However, he also said that he probably would not support a current private member's bill for assisted suicide. Doctors were outraged at the Prime Minister's suggestion that their colleagues were already busy with euthanasia. Sinead Donnelly, of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, said that the Prime Minister had undermined relationships with patients. "His personal opinion given as Prime Minister has serious negative consequences in the trust people have in hospital care of the seriously ill." Hospice NZ Medical Adviser Sandy MacLeod agreed. "It appears the Prime Minister has confused the ceasing of curative treatments with ending a person's life. In situations like this people are in fact dying from an advanced disease, not from the withdrawal of the treatment." - NZ Herald, Aug 24; Nelson Mail, Aug 23