Dying doctor calls for euthanasia

The Herald reports:

An Auckland doctor who has just months to live after being diagnosed with a terminal illness says it’s time for to be legalised.

Dr John Pollock said it was unfair that if he lived in Holland, Belgium or some American states he would have the option of ending his life if his condition deteriorated to a point where he was suffering, but in New Zealand he faces a death he cannot control.

He believes it is time for a law change so people facing death have the comfort of knowing they can control the end.

I support a law change. I think people should have the right to decide to die, if they are terminal. You wants lots of safeguards, but the principle is easy.

Under the current law, some terminally ill patients were left in the “most appallingly wretched states, sometimes akin to those who died of starvation in Nazi concentration camps”, Dr Pollock said. “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.”

When asked if he had ever helped a patient end their life he replied: “It’s against the law.” He said he did however know “a number” of doctors who had helped suffering patients.

“I don’t see how a merciful doctor could not. The difference between relieving pain and euthanasia can be really quite small.”

In NZ we already have passive euthanasia – where people are allowed to die, as their quality of life is so poor. The debate is about whether one can have active euthanasia – where medicine can be supplied that will painlessly kill someone.

“The law won’t be changed in time for me and the only way that I can legally end my life before it is due to end is suicide and that’s the cruelty of it – not only suicide but suicide alone because if I top myself with my family present then I put them at risk and I think that’s hideous. It’s very cruel.”

Rodney Hide talked eloquently about Martin Hames trying to kill himself alone, because of the euthanasia laws. Martin’s case is the one which convinced me to come off the fence on this issue, and support euthanasia.

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