John Key 'broadly supports' voluntary euthanasia

Aug 23 - Prime Minister John Key says he "broadly supports" the principle of voluntary euthanasia and would consider it if he were terminally ill himself.

"I'd just look at it and say - if I had terminal cancer, I had a few weeks to live and I was in tremendous amount of pain, if they just effectively wanted to turn off the switch, and could legalise that by legalising euthanasia, I'd want that," he told Newstalk ZB yesterday.

Mr Key said he understood the argument legalising euthanasia could put pressure on the elderly to end their lives early but he did not buy into it.

"I think there's a lot of euthanasia that effectively happens in our hospitals."

However, director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Ian Powell, did not think euthanasia was occurring the way Mr Key made out.

"The situation is much more complex than that," he told local media.

"Sometimes continuing a treatment can prolong the agony for a patient, and not even keep the patient alive.

"By not prolonging the agony . . . even though the intent is not for the patient to die, it is sometimes a consequence."

Labour Party MP Maryan Street's End of Life Choice Bill, which would would legalise euthanasia, has yet to be drawn from the ballot.

Mr Key said he had not read the bill so had not completely decided how he would vote if it were drawn.

He voted in favour of a similar bill from NZ First MP Peter Brown in 2003.


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