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outdated and unnecessary.”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,”
“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.”