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Support grows for voluntary euthanasia

Published: 6:29PM Sunday April 29, 2012 Source: ONE News

There are signs of growing support for a controversial proposal to legalise euthanasia.

A newspaper poll published today, which surveyed more than 1000 people, indicates at least three-quarters of New Zealanders support voluntary euthanasia.

Labour MP Maryan Street, who has been working on an End of Life Choice Bill, says people should have a choice about when and how they die.

"There have been more and more people wishing to determine their time and manner of death, particularly in the circumstances of a terminal illness," Street said.

"I think the law is an ass."

However, opponents of euthanasia say changing the law will lead to abuse.

Director of The New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre, John Kleinsman, is steadfast in his belief euthanasia is not a solution.

"My fear is that the right to die would quickly become a duty to die for many people," Kleinsman said.

He believes more emphasis should be placed on improving palliative care for the elderly and terminally ill.

"People don't need to die in pain in this day and age. Palliative care ensures that most people by and large don't have to suffer much pain at all."

There have been two previous attempts to change the law.

In 1995 a similar bill was heavily out-voted, but eight years later support had grown so much it failed by only three votes.

Euthanasia campaigner departs NZ

The growing support comes at the same time high-profile euthanasia campaigner Sean Davidson is leaving the country.

Davidson has recently completed five months home detention, his sentence for helping his terminally ill mother die.

"I did it for the love of my mother. It was a compassionate thing to do," he said.

Davidson assisted his mother's death in 2006 with a dose of morphine.

"The court had to take its course and indeed find me guilty, but it was not a crime to help my mother to die," he said.

"I believe any compassionate person would have done the same thing."

Davidson received death threats during his time in home detention.

He is returning to South Africa, where he previously worked as a DNA expert.