3 News 17 Feb 2014
The champion of euthanasia in New Zealand says Belgium’s bold move of euthanising children is already happening here. Lesley Martin says the only difference here is it’s happening covertly, and without official sanction. But she’s keen to see us follow the country that’s now gone the furthest of any when it comes to giving children the right to die. Professor Michel Ghins (anti-euthanasia Belgium) agrees, but believes those rights are to life. He says the Belgian law should sound as a warning to other countries tempted to legalise adult euthanasia. “Once the step has been made it’s very difficult to prevent all kinds of extensions to take place.” New Zealand parliament has debated euthanasia twice and refused to take the first step.
The palliative care council is also opposed, it says treatment to relieve symptoms can have an unintended consequence of hastening death, but this is not euthanasia.
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Lesley Martin’s assertion has been contested by Dr. David Richmond, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine and spokesperson for Euthanasia-Free NZ. He believes that the Australia and New Zealand Society for Palliative Care “would strenuously deny that terminally ill children are deliberately overdosed with medication so as to bring about their early death.” Martin’s allegation, he says, is a deliberate attempt at “trying to convince the New Zealand public that there is already widespread use of euthanasia in New Zealand,” in order “to soften them up for the re-introduction of the End of Life Choice Bill or its successor.”