Right-to-die debate alive and well

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Sandra Maich advises people to have the conversation about their end-of-life options. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Sandra Maich advises people to have the conversation about their end-of-life options. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Supporters braved chilling winds in the Whangarei Library plaza to make sure the end-of-life conversation was alive and kicking on the international Right to Die Day.

On Wednesday, to mark Right to Die Day, the Whangarei End-of-Life-Choice Focus Group handed out information about the Voluntary Euthanasia Society's and associated groups' campaign to give people in certain health circumstances ''the right to die with dignity''.

Among people supporting the ''conversation'' was Whangarei woman Sandra Maich who learned in April she had terminal cancer.

Having being a nurse all her adult life, Ms Maich said she had encountered death and heard the right-to-choose arguments many times - however now the subject had become as personal as it gets.

She believed she ''will probably run out of time'' before any law change came about.

''Even so, I might have made that choice, I might not, but it's very important to be well informed and to know the way, '' she said.

''You never know when you might have to unexpectedly walk that road.''

Whangarei focus group member Lou Spicer said the debate was not restricted to or mainly embraced by older people.

It was highlighted by terminally ill Wellington lawyer Lucretia Seales' campaign to win the right to end her own life last year. Ms Seales, who died soon after her high-profile law case, was denied that right.

Also during the international awareness day, the Government's Health Select Committee, which is holding a parliamentary inquiry into assisted dying, began to hear 21,533 submissions on the issue, the majority in a petition calling for a law change.

Assisted dying is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Colombia, Canada and six American states.

A parliamentary committee has recommended a law change in the Australian state Victoria and a similar bill is being debated in South Australia.

- Northern Advocate

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