TODAY |

Euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin has concerns about End of Life Bill, calls for more rigorous process

A euthanasia campaigner is concerned about the End of Life Bill, which yesterday passed its second reading in Parliament, saying there needs to be a lot more information and support about what the Bill does and does not offer before anyone engages with the process.

Seventy MPs voted in favour of the Bill, while 50 were opposed.

National's Judith Collins was teary as she shared a personal story, and saying she was on the "wrong side" in opposing the Bill but is on the "right side" now.

But, Lesley Martin told TVNZ1's Breakfast the preliminary process of assisted dying needed to be much more rigorous and informative for people and their families before entering any sort of decision.

The former intensive care nurse was sentenced to 15 months for the attempted murder of her terminally ill mother in 2004.

She wrote a book - To Die Like A Dog - about why she helped her mother end her life, prompting police to open a homicide inquiry into her mother's death which ultimately led to her conviction.

Ms Martin, who now lives in the UK, told Breakfast it was hard to watch her mother not die in 1998 when there was "a much more humane way of someone passing away that what you're witnessing".

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The experience for the registered nurse was "life changing".

"My mother had watched her mother die of bowel cancer and my mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer," she said. "She knew without a doubt that she didn't want a prolonged and drawn out death as she'd witnessed with her own mother, so I promised, I promised.

"She was very clear about what she wanted, I promised and I had absolutely no plan or no idea how I was going to fulfill a promise but in the moment when it comes down to that you do what you can."

But when it comes to legalising assisted dying in New Zealand, she still has her concerns.

Ms Martin said in Belgium the legislation that came in 2004 had 687 amendments from the first draft, after working through more than 380 hours of parliamentary debate.

"This is the seriousness of this Bill. It has to be debated thoroughly."

She said, the End of Life Bill had "very little in that legislation that supports the patient and their family.

"There's needs to be public information service so that people understand what the Bill would and would not provide. There needs to be specialised counselling before anyone even gets to the point of requesting assistance under the legislation. I'm not seeing any of that in this Bill and that concerns me."

For the average person to find out they, or someone they know, is dying it comes as a big shock, Ms Martin said, adding that people in that situation needed to be able to pick up a phone and dial an 0800 number to get accurate information instead of "all the half stories that would be circulating when this Bill comes into play".

"At the heart of it, it's a freedom of choice issue and it's a self autonomy issue so each person has the right to make that decision for themselves. What we're crafting now is the structure within which they can access that help that we know is out there happening already."

Your playlist will load after this ad

Lesley Martin talks about the End of Life Bill after it yesterday passed its second reading in Parliament. Source: Breakfast