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California move boosts voluntary euthanasia campaign

California move boosts voluntary euthanasia campaign

New Zealand voluntary euthanasia campaigners will take their case for a law change to parliament this week buoyed by California’s recent move to allow doctors to give fatal drugs to terminally ill patients.

Former MP Maryan Street, a Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) committee member who drafted a bill that failed to reach the debate stage in Parliament, will present a submission on Wednesday to the health select committee which is holding a public inquiry into the issue. VES is awaiting a date to speak to the written submission it has lodged.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown, 77, a Catholic who studied to be a priest as a young man, signed a bill on October 5 that will make physician-assisted dying legal in the state next year.

California will become the fifth US state to allow terminally ill patients to take their lives with doctor prescribed drugs. With nearly 40 million people, it is America’s most populous state.

Governor Brown said he consulted members of the Catholic Church, which is opposed to the measure, as well as physicians, before signing the measure.

"In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death," he said. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn't deny that right to others."

The state legislature approved a law change after Brittany Maynard, 29, who had an inoperable brain tumour, moved from her San Francisco home to Oregon, which allowed physician-assisted dying, to take her own life in November.

“Brittany Maynard became a Facebook and Twitter sensation,” Dr Jack Havill, president of VESNZ, said on Sunday. “The world followed her blogs as she came to the end of her life. Now, her wish has come true – California, her home state, has a law similar to that of Oregon.

“California is providing yet another example to the New Zealand Parliament as it considers the issues around physician assisted dying.”


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