New Zealand doctor campaigns for euthanasia

By David Barber

Wellington (dpa) – A retired New Zealand doctor dying from a

 terminal illness has launched a campaign for voluntary euthanasia to

 be legalized as a basic human right.

 Dr John Pollock, 61, of Auckland, who has metastatic melanoma and

 has been given only months to live, was quoted in Wednesday’s New

 Zealand Herald as saying the law banning euthanasia was “cruel,

 outdated and unnecessary.”

 He wrote a letter published in the latest New Zealand Doctor

 magazine urging colleagues to write to members of Parliament and the

 New Zealand Medical Association calling for a change in the law.

 “Both will need a lot of pushing to act,” he wrote, calling the

 NZMA’s opposition to voluntary euthanasia “unfathomable.”

 “The law insists we must provide only ameliorative help while

 patients may reach the most appallingly wretched states, sometimes

 akin to those who died of starvation in Nazi concentration camps,”

 Pollock wrote.

 “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


 “My cancer may kill me in a variety of ways, some very unpleasant

 and drawn-out,” he wrote. “There are several scenarios which I would

 find intolerable and should be able to opt out of, but for our old-

 fashioned, ill-thought-out, cruel laws, which force me to suffer to

 the end or kill myself.”

 He retired after being diagnosed in December and was told about

 four months ago that he might have six to nine months to live.

 Pollock said that if he was “lucky enough,” he could have a quick

 death from a stroke or pneumonia.

 “Unfortunately, what can happen is you can get a really prolonged


 Pollock said it was unfair that if he lived in Holland, Belgium or

 some US 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 faced a death he could not control.

 He said he favoured a change to the Dutch law, which requires

 “your own doctor and an independent doctor to be convinced that you

 are suffering, are terminal and are not being coerced before agreeing

 to your request.”