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Dr Mary English speaks out against End of Life Choice Bill in #DefendNZ third documentary – A life in chronic pain

Former First Lady of New Zealand Dr Mary English speaks out against the End of Life Choice Bill in the third documentary released today by #DefendNZ – a grassroots movement opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill.

Dr English takes part as a spokesperson for Doctors Say No – an open letter signed by almost 1,000 New Zealand doctors opposed to the legalisation of euthanasia.

She sees the End of Life Choice Bill as a dangerous shift in law and medicine. As she comments in the documentary A life in chronic pain, “I don’t think it is the State’s role. I think the State’s primary role is to protect its citizens.

“For a thousand years and beyond, medicine has had a very clear ethical principle around killing patients. And the law as it stands creates a very clear, bright line as to where the boundaries are, which is protective for both patients and doctors.”

A life in chronic pain features the story of Dr John Fox of Christchurch, who was born with spastic hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.

John experiences chronic intense pain and mobility decline. His mobility decline means that he is “in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability”. Doctors and lawyers he has consulted say that he could be eligible for euthanasia under the End of Life Choice Bill.

John is very concerned that the End of Life Choice Bill creates a “conveyer belt to suicide” for those who are seriously ill or who have disabilities. He finds this not only greatly troubling but also extremely discriminatory.

John states, “If I were a 25-year-old rugby player, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Suddenly, because I’m sick, I have to stand in front of a camera and say why I think my life is valuable. This in itself is a huge problem.” 

As well as Dr English, also complementing John’s story are exclusive commentaries from Hon Dame Tariana Turia DNZM (former Minister for Disability Issues and Associate Minister of Health), Professor Margaret Somerville (Professor of bioethics, Sydney and Montreal), Grant Illingworth QC (Barrister-at-law), and Richard McLeod (Human rights, immigration and refugee lawyer).

The film and John’s full story can be viewed at www.defendnz.co.nz/john or below.


Watch John’s documentary in widescreen and read his complete story here.

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