Kathleen Gardner – A perspective from a former hospice nurse

  • October 19, 2015

I have been a hospice nurse.  There are some patients who require terminal sedation to control symptoms.  This means essentially 'knocking them out' with sedating medication until they die.  I struggle to understand why this is different to an assisted death. Palliative care physicians say that the intention is to relieve symptoms, not to hasten death, but the outcome is the same.

I have watched family members and friends die prolonged, miserable deaths.  Some people argue that hastening a death for the sake of the relatives' comfort is wrong or selfish.  I do not share this opinion.  My last memory of my mother is of a tortured and decomposing body, unconscious and gasping for air.  That is not how I want my loved ones to remember me or anyone else.

I also feel strongly that in our predominantly secular society, our laws should not be guided by the religious views of the minority.  I fully support their right to choose a dying process congruent with their beliefs.

The 'slippery slope' argument against assisted dying has not been seen in any of the countries/states who have assisted dying.

I have written to many MPs to express my support for your Bill.  The majority of the public wants this choice.  Maybe this time NZ will follow the other countries/states in the world who are acting compassionately.