Euthanasia advocate died on own terms
Fri, 14 Sep 2012 6:11p.m.
By Krissy Moreau
A euthanasia advocate who campaigned for years to get New Zealand’s law changed has taken her own life before she could see any result.
Eighty-three-year-old Paula Westoby made national headlines in 2008 by tattooing “do not resuscitate” on her chest.
She died this week in Dunedin, where a funeral was held for her today. Her son, Jonathan Westoby, says that while the family are grieving, they respect her decision to end her life.
“We're just going through that grieving process now, and we are struggling,” he says. “But it was her choice, and we've got to remember that.”
Paramedics found Ms Westoby’s body in her home this week. Jonathan says her children were alerted by family friends that she had chosen to go on her own terms.
“Mum’s words to them were such that she was about to do the deed,” he says. “Indeed the Exit International lady said that she was mixing the potion now.”
Paula Westoby told 3 News in 2008 that taking your own life is not a decision that a person would make lightly.
“It's not easy to kill yourself, but when you've had enough and you're sick of things and goodness knows why you want to carry on living in a terrible way? Of course you don't,” she said.
Ms Westoby was a supporter of Sean Davison, who served five months home detention earlier this year after helping his cancer-ridden mother die.
But a decision yesterday to discharge Auckland man Evans Mott without conviction after helping his ill wife commit suicide could mean a shift in views toward euthanasia. The judge watched a video message his wife left, saying it was her choice to die.
Euthanasia opponents have criticised the decision, but Labour MP Maryan Street says she is still hoping her private member’s bill to legalise euthanasia will go before Parliament.
“It's clear separate from any judgement, people from society are thinking about this issue and are arriving at different decisions,” says Ms Street.
One of Ms Westoby’s final requests was for her ashes to be taken to well-known student haunt The Captain Cook Tavern, where she used to enjoy a drink.
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