Euthanasia referendum: Blood cancer sufferer's emotional appeal on End of Life Choice Act

A woman suffering from blood cancer is urging Kiwis to give her the option to die on her terms.

At Saturday's election, New Zealanders will be asked whether they support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 - allowing people who are terminally ill and suffering unbearable pain the option of assisted death.

Bobbie Carroll was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2016 and has recently relapsed. 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.

In an interview that aired during Three's euthanasia discussion on Wednesday, she said her cancer has come "back with a vengeance" on her bones.

"I don't want to die in agony," she said. "This is my death, my choice."

But in contrast, Claire Freeman, who became a tetraplegic when she was just 17 years old after a car crash, said she was in such a dark space following her accident she was vulnerable and ready to take her own life.

"I'm extremely grateful that [euthanasia] wasn't an option."

She said had it been an option, she would have taken it. But her quality of life improved 10-fold following neck surgery in 2015.

"I certainly don't want it as an option for myself and I certainly don't want this as an option for some extremely vulnerable New Zealanders." 

Bobbie Carroll.
Bobbie Carroll. Photo credit: Newshub.

Diversity NZ managing director Philip Patston told euthanasia discussion host Patrick Gower he believes there are plenty of safeguards within the End of Life Choice Act to protect vulnerable people.

"At the moment people can stop eating, they can stop drinking, they can stop taking medication - there is no looking at whether that is their own choice or not."

But Hospice NZ clinical adviser Rod MacLeod believes we've lost sight of our ability to protect vulnerable people.

"It's not uncommon in a hospice to talk with family members who feel that the process is going on too long and you go and talk to the patient and say, 'what do you think about this? And they say, 'I'm fine.'"

MacLeod is voting against the law.

"I think there is a disjunction between what the patient might want and what the family might want. I think the thing about coercion is it's often extremely difficult to detect."

To learn more about the referendum, see Newshub's full coverage here, and you can read the Government's official details here.