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Police Raid Smacks of Political Interference





Recent police raids on voluntary euthanasia campaigners smack of interference into the Parliamentary inquiry into assisted dying that is under way, Maryan Street, President of End-of-Life Choice (the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) said on Monday.

She said Friday’s police search of the home of 76-year-old Nelson woman Patsy McGrath who has campaigned half a century for a law change to allow the terminally ill to end their suffering with a peaceful death, appeared to have a political imperative.
Ms McGrath said police presented a warrant to seize a store-bought helium balloon kit she had bought in a shop. Acting on directions from Wellington police, they said they had grounds to believe they would find those materials, which were evidence in respect of a suspected crime: aiding and abetting suicide.
Police are also reported to have searched the Lower Hutt homes of two women members of another organisation Exit International – not associated with the VES - and charged one with possessing a Class C drug.
“On what basis have police gained a search warrant,” Ms Street asked. “Who is going to be searched next?

“If they have charges to bring, let them do so in a proper manner.  If this action against Patsy and possibly others deters or intimidates anyone about to present their submission to the Health Committee, then it will be seen to be an intrusion on the legitimate political activities of New Zealand citizens.”

The Health Committee’s inquiry was initiated by a petition in Ms Street’s name signed by nearly 9000 others. It attracted a record number of more than 21,000 submissions and 1800 people have asked to make personal statements to the committee.

Ms Street asked how many of these people would find themselves on the receiving end of a wide-ranging search warrant because of what she called a “politically-motivated use of Police resources”.

She said: “I would ask the police to respect the privacy of New Zealanders who are seeking through legitimate means to get a change to the law and bring about a compassionate law which allows physician-assisted death under certain circumstances and under close regulation.

Noting that suicide was not illegal, she said: “The police need to back away from this activity unless they wish to be viewed as having their strings pulled by people with a political agenda of their own – namely to oppose a law change. If they suspect a crime has been committed, then they must pursue that with all means available to them, but they need to tread carefully here.”

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