'What gives police authority?' Euthanasia group outraged at raid of elderly women's homes

Members of a voluntary euthanasia group say police raided the homes of two elderly women and arrested one as part of an operation targeting its members. 

Nelson's Patsy McGrath, a member of Exit International, says the police told her was suspected of having tools that could be used for voluntary euthanasia. Source: 1 NEWS

Nelson woman Patsy McGrath, 76, said she was raided by police on October 7.

As part of the same operation, an elderly Lower Hutt woman was arrested on charges of importing a class C drug.

The women are both members of Exit International, a group that provides guidance on how to access and use voluntary suicide drugs.

Mrs McGrath said the raid on her home was "ludicrous" and called the police search powers "draconian".

"It seemed so over the top to come and fetch some old woman's balloon-blowing-up apparatus," she said.

Exit International founder Philip Nitschke said police were targeting members of the group in a way they had never seen before.

"We haven't seen anything like this occurring in any other country," he said.

"What gives police the authority to go through our membership list?"

Mr Nitschke said Exit International was contacting its New Zealand members to prepare them in case of a police raid.

Police issued a statement to 1 News, where they said they would not comment while invetigations continue.

"What we can say is that Police are acting with compassion in regards to those people involved," Wellington City Area Commander Inspector Chris Bensemann said.

If you need to speak with someone, please contact the following: 

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)