More support for Assisted Dying than a flag change

If the sustained applause assisted-dying advocate Matt Vickers received after his talk at the National Rural Health Conference in Dunedin was anything to go by, his message to health professionals hit the spot on Saturday.

Mr Vickers is the widower of Lecretia Seales, a Wellington lawyer who challenged the Crown in the High Court on her right to choose how she died.

Ms Seales was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011, and despite treatment died last year.

Earlier in the year, she put a case to the High Court to challenge New Zealand law for her right to die with the assistance of her doctor, asking for a declaration the doctor would not risk conviction.

Her call was declined.

Mr Vickers told the conference his wife spent the last days of her life seeking control over the last stage of her life.

He had been wanting to “speak to New Zealand doctors and nurses for some time”.

He believed anyone facing “intolerable suffering” should have the option of assisted dying.

Countries in Europe, including Belgium and the Netherlands, and states of the United States, including Oregon, already had assisted-dying laws.

The issue was now being discussed in New Zealand, something he thought was “a wonderful thing”.

Some people ended up with a choice between suicide “and a long painful death”.

Mr Vickers said between 5% and 8% of suicides were people with terminal illnesses, “people from loving families who shoot themselves or walk off cliffs”.

A recent survey found nearly two thirds of New Zealanders support a Death with Dignity bill with the usual sensible safeguards.

Labour had their private members bill drawn but took it off the table to not get it messed up in the Dirty Politics campaign.

It’s not something a National government will get near, oddly enough.  And like the flag, it may take some time before someone has the political courage to try again.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.