Dame Jenny Gibbs on End of Life Choice

  • October 14, 2015

I have carefully read the draft End of Life Choice Bill & totally endorse the aims of the bill. It is long overdue that people in New Zealand who are suffering a terminal illness or an unendurable condition should have this option available. I have personal experience of the unnecessary anguish caused to people in an unendurable situation, who beg for help but have none available. I watched my mother die of cancer. When she was in hospital she watched the clock anxiously waiting for the 4 hourly morphine. Inevitably as the hour approached she felt very considerable pain & extreme anxiety. She discharged herself & came home to stay with us. A very sympathetic doctor, way ahead of his time, left a large bottle of liquid morphine beside her bed to use as & when she needed to. The change was extraordinary. Because she had the peace of mind knowing that it was within her control, she relaxed & was happy & felt very little pain & very little need for the morphine until the end. It changed the views of all our family. Similarly I have been privileged to observe the peace of mind & alleviation of symptoms & anxiety in others, created when a person feels that they do have this option, whether or not they choose to use it. There is no credible evidence from overseas where end of life choice is available, that any coercion or pressure has been evident.