New Zealand law strikes a good balance between an individual's choice and the interests of the community.
Many people are surprised at the rights and choices provided to Kiwis with life limiting illnesses.
1. The right to refuse treatment
Anyone in New Zealand can choose to refuse any form of medical treatment, or ask to have medical treatment or interventions discontinued ( Section 11 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990).
2. The right to have an advanced directive
Anyone in New Zealand can choose to make an advance directive in accordance with the law.
3. ready access to pain relief
Anyone in New Zealand can reasonably expect to receive medication to relieve their pain and suffering. The provision of such pain relief is both legal and ethical, even if there is a risk that the treatment may result in an earlier death.
4. Withdrawing futile medical treatment is legal
Withdrawing futile medical assistance from a patient, even when this action will result in a person’s death, is considered to be legal and ethical in New Zealand.
palliative & Hospice care - an important choice
Palliative care helps people with a life limiting illness by addressing their physical, psychological, spiritual and cultural needs.
Hospices are key providers of palliative care in New Zealand, combining excellent medical care with the warmth and hospitality of a home.
The quality of palliative care in New Zealand ranks third highest in the world, which means that no one need suffer extreme pain during the dying stages of their life. Medication is used on compassionate grounds to relieve pain and suffering, and is perfectly legal.
There are countless stories which can be told here in New Zealand about people who have found comfort in allowing others to care for them at the end stages of their life.