Judith Collins adds to euthanasia referendum confusion


Concern is mounting that people voting in the euthanasia referendum may not realise what they are voting for.

In an interview on Magic Talk on Monday National Party Leader, Judith Collins, seemed to blur the line between managing pain and a deliberate choice for a person to end their life.

Asked how she reconciled her Christianity with support for decriminalising abortion and making euthanasia legal, Collins said “… I’ve seen my father with a whole dose of morphine put in him in the hospital that he was in. I tell you what, that was a lot better than watching my sister-in-law basically starve to death,” Collins told Magic Talk.

However Palliative Care Speciality, Sinead Donnelly says there’s a clear distinction between administering morphine for pain and deliberately terminating a life.

“Morphine is used legally and appropriately every day to relieve a patient’s pain and shortness of breath, but not to terminate a life”, Donnelly told CathNews.

Legitimising what we think has been the practice for many years is not what the End of Life Choice Act about, she says.

“This euthanasia Act will be legalising the use of agents like phenobarbitone and propofol at high doses to end people’s lives.

“The use of these agents carries with them the intention of ending someone’s life not the relief of their symptoms”, she said.

Studies have shown that patients live longer when morphine is used appropriately and carefully to relieve pain.

Often families think that morphine led to the patient’s death when actually the patient is actively dying, morphine is given to relieve their pain and the patient coincidentally dies, Donnelly says.

This is vastly different to a medical practitioner or nurse giving a patient high doses of phenobarbitone and propofol with the intention of ending their life, she says.

We do not need to vote for giving people Morphine to relieve their pain, it is already legal.

This vote is about something completely different, it has a different intent. This euthanasia referendum is about a deliberate act to end a person’s life early.

In a recent discussion on NewTalkZB, Hospice NZ clinical director Rod Macleod and Wellington GP labelled the euthanasia Act poor law.

English said the law was “very weak”, noting the absence of a requirement for a patient to consult their family or friends about their decision to request an assisted death.

Under this law an 18 year old could request to be euthanased, English said.

“And the first those parents might get to know about this is if they get a phone call or a death certificate coming to them. And that’s something that no parent wants.”

English and Macleod voiced concern that if the vote passed, New Zealand like other countries will broaden their laws, for example in Canada euthanasia could be made available to non-terminal patients.

Dr John Bonning, an emergency medicine specialist from Waikato Hospital defended the euthanasia Act.

“They’re allowed to vote, they’re allowed to go to war, they’re allowed to make their own choices”, Bonning said.


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