I dread debates on topics such as abortion and euthanasia. They tend to come down to deeply held personal beliefs that can never be changed. None the less, Doctor John Pollock has very publicly raised the topic of euthanasia, and I think that it’s an issue that we do need to move forward on as a country, so here we go. The Herald reports:
Dying GP’s plea for euthanasia
A terminally-ill Auckland doctor writes to New Zealand Doctor magazine arguing for the legalisation of euthanasia in New Zealand.
Over the years our vet has put down several of our ailing, elderly pets, the latest a week ago. A contented, serene animal, surrounded by the people who have loved it for years, passed from life to death in a peaceful, painless minute. I have metastatic melanoma – how I wish that service was available to me.
If I was a citizen of Holland or Belgium or a couple of American states it would be. In NZ a doctor who performed such a merciful service would risk prison. The law insists we must provide only ameliorative help while patients may reach the most appallingly wretched states, sometimes akin to those who died of starvation in Nazi concentration camps. Ironically if we allowed a cat or a dog or a horse to reach such a condition we would be breaking the law and risking a prison sentence. …
My cancer may kill me in a variety of ways, some very unpleasant and drawn-out. There are several scenarios which I would find intolerable and should be able to opt out of but for our old-fashioned, ill-thought-out, cruel laws which force me to suffer to the end or kill myself.
There is no doubt voluntary euthanasia will come to NZ but it needs some determined lobbying for it to be sooner rather than later. I know of no recent NZ surveys but a couple done in Britain and USA suggest about 75 per cent of the population would approve.
There are a number of prevalent arguments against it – none, in my view, reason to withhold what should, and will be, a basic human right …
If you agree I would urge you to write to your local MP and to the NZMA. Both will need a lot of pushing to act.
John Pollock MB,
Thank you Doctor Pollock for this courageous and well considered contribution to the euthanasia debate. The full letter is long, and thoughtful, and it deals with the arguments against euthanasia – you should go read the whole thing at The Herald or at New Zealand Doctor linked above. See also the NZ Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Like many readers here, perhaps, I have personal experiences and risk factors which shape my opinions on euthanasia, but even without those I think that the objective and rational position is clear. I think that as a country our current legal position on euthanasia is wrong. Let’s move the debate forward, and let’s give we the people back the right to make the ultimate personal decision for ourselves.