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Australian nurses' union backs euthanasia.

THE AUSTRALIAN Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)--NZNO's equivalent across the Tasman--is strongly supporting legalisation to enable voluntary euthanasia (VE) in Australia.

Australia's largest union, with 249,000 members, the ANMF partnered with pro-euthanasia group Go Gentle in September to launch a campaign supporting a bill to legalise VE currently before the South Australian parliament.

ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas (pictured below) said its members had varying views on the issue, but many more were in favour than against. Conference resolutions supporting VE dated back to 2004, she said. "Partnering with Go Gentle gives us a great opportunity to campaign on the issue."

Nurses "see it all", she said, and spent more time with the patient and families than other health professionals.

The ANMF website states that "for the small number of terminally ill going through unbearable suffering, who cannot be helped by palliative pain relief, there should be one more choice". It also includes four unnamed Australian nurses discussing their experiences. "To watch someone struggling to take every single breath is really quite distressing for us as nurses, so to have to see their family go through that as well, and them suffering like that, it's pretty awful," one nurse says.

The Australian campaign is represented by 35-year-old Australian woman Kylie Monaghan, who died in October from terminal breast cancer.

In September, NZNO presented an oral submission to Parliament's health select committee, which is hearing submissions on public attitudes to legalising medically-assisted dying. Staff and kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said nurses' views on the issue were polarised and no nurse should be obliged to participate, if medically-assisted dying became legal.

NZNO's draft position statement on assisted dying, which is out for consultation with members, advocates for individuals to have the choice of assisted dying, while ensuring nurses are well-trained, protected legally and able to opt out. Clear guidelines would also be needed for nurses, the draft suggests.

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Title Annotation:news & events
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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