US end-of-life rights backer guest at community forum

With Labour MP Maryan Street's End-of-Life Choice Bill sitting in the ballot box, the euthanasia discussion will come to the fore in Queenstown on Monday in the form of a community forum.

Yvonne Shaw is an end-of-life rights advocate from Oregon, in the United States, and is visiting New Zealand for a series of forums as a guest of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand. Ms Shaw previously worked in the administration of the Death with Dignity Act in Oregon.

The option for the terminally ill to choose assisted death has been legal for 15 years and in that time about 700 people with terminal illnesses have chosen that option.

''Oregonians don't use the Death with Dignity Act often,'' Ms Shaw said.

''But they like the reassurance of knowing that should they need to, they can access a graceful death on their own terms, without jeopardising their families or doctors.''

Assisted death is also legal in other American states, such as Washington and Montana.

The Queenstown forum will be held at the St John rooms, 10 Douglas St, Frankton, from 6pm on Monday, February 25.