Duncan Garner: Instincts say End of Life Choice Bill will pass, only just

Opinion 08/04/2019

David Seymour's End of Life or Euthanasia Bill comes back from select committee and into the bear pit for what is likely to be a fierce and emotional debate, and a crucial vote.

This is highly personal for many New Zealanders - including our politicians.

There have been 38,000 submissions and 90 percent of people were against it.

I don't think that reflects the country's views.

The churches have been big submitters and may have skewed the results. But that doesn't matter, what matters is how MPs vote and Seymour is not running around jubilant just yet.

I think it will pass - maybe only just. But that's my instinct.

It's also likely each MP has a story to tell, perhaps someone in their family died.

They may have seen the suffering and would have used euthanasia had it been available.

My father was my best mate and was diagnosed with cancer aged 61 and given nine months to live.

I'll never forget Mum calling me at work and saying come up and see us - I knew something wasn't right.

I cried all the way up to their house and crashed through the front door and the old man was shaking as he hugged me.

"I'm stuffed," he said, or something like that, and from there it was palliative care for nine months.

Five days out from his death we all knew it was close I watched Super Rugby with him on his bed one Saturday night.

Then, Sunday night as we all slept, he called an ambulance and asked to be taken to Mary Potter Hospice.

St Johns picked him up and settled him in to the hospice.

Monday he was restless and in pain, Tuesday he slept, Wednesday he slept. Thursday - budget day 2010 - at 4am, he died - peacefully.

I lay under his hospice bed holding his hand. There was no need for euthanasia and I would have said no at the time. Yet, I support it as a choice.

I hope MPs vote for it but review its success, or otherwise, after two years.

I trust families and doctors to get this right. I would like the right to choose one day. It's our life, our body, it seems only right we get to choose our exit.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.