Euthanasia advocate says referendum about giving people choice in emotional interview

A terminally ill euthanasia advocate hopes the upcoming End of Life Choice referendum passes to provide her and others the choice of requesting assisted dying if she was to need it. 

At the upcoming election, Kiwis will vote on whether they support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force. 

The legislation, if it comes into effect, would provide people with a terminal illness the option of requesting assisted dying in certain circumstances. 

The Government's referendum website highlights a list of eligibility criteria, such as the individual suffering from a terminal illness likely to end their life within six months, having a significant and ongoing decline in physical capability and experiencing unbearable suffering.

"A person would not be eligible to ask for assisted dying if the only reason they give is that they are suffering from a mental disorder or mental illness, or have a disability of any kind, or are of advanced age," the website says.

Piha resident Bobbie Carroll, 67, is among those advocating for the referendum to pass. 

In 2016, she was diagnosed with multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer. Back in March 2018, she appeared on The AM Show and said there was an average life expectancy of about six to six-and-a-half years.

Since she was last on the show, Carroll has relapsed.

"In particular, it is active, attacking my bones. Multi-myeloma is called multi because it can do organs or bones or whatever. I broke a rib and then spontaneously, I was in the garden, and my clavicle just exploded. It was excruciating and so I had a full skeletal MRI and my bones have degraded somewhat," she told The AM Show.

She went to the hospital, but says it took five days to get her pain under control with the morphine not having any effect. 

"I am now on a new chemo drug. That will put me back into maybe a remission and then I will relapse again. The next time I relapse, the last available drug will be ready for me and I will be put on that. I will be on the final chemo drug available for me and then when I relapse again, that's when the doctors say 'Bob, you know, we have used everything in the armoury'."

Carroll was asked whether in the future, if she met the eligibility criteria, would she request assisted dying. At this stage, she says, she doesn't know. But she wants the option if necessary. 

"I don't know if I will use it or not. I just want the choice. That choice will kick in depending on the state of play with my body. If it was excruciating pain like I had with the clavicle, and it wasn't under control or other things like that, I may. But there is no guarantee".

She knows how she would like it to go, however, if it was to happen.

"It is myself, [her partner] Julia, my daughter, my grandies, my stepson, and maybe three or four really close friends. I have already spoken to hospice about this. It will be in my home. It will be gentle and loving and when we are all ready," she said.

Advance voting for the election and referendums is currently open, and a Newshub-Reid Research poll out last week shows the euthanasia vote is likely to pass. It saw 61.6 percent of participants say they supported the Act coming into force, and 25.5 percent saying no. There were 11.9 percent of people who didn't know.

Carroll told The AM Show that she is "feeling a rumble of anger about people that wish to take my choice away from me". 

"If you vote yes and I vote yes, and you don't want to do it, you don't have to, and I can," she said.

"But if you vote no, and if you vote no, and if you vote no, you are taking my choice away from me. Who the hell gave you that right? You don't even know me."

Opponents of the legislation have accused it of not having adequate safeguards and that people sometimes outlive their prognosis. Supporters, however, believe proper checks and balances are in place and that the emphasis is on giving people a choice, not putting the decision into others' hands.

Watch the full interview above.