An Auckland-born microbiologist is facing potential charges over giving a lethal dose of morphine to his terminally ill mother. In a manuscript for a book that he wrote describing his mother's harrowing battle with cancer, 47-year old Sean Davison apparently admitted that he gave his mother the morphine to end her suffering. Although the incriminating information had been removed from the final draft, a copy of the original draft was anonymously leaked to the press. Davison, a professor of biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, has since verified the information and stated that he does not fear being charged.
Davison's book, Before We Say Goodbye, has just been published and describes Patricia Davison's long battle with cancer and his mother's repeated requests to allowed to die. Patricia Davison, a retired psychiatrist, was suffering from terminal colon cancer which left her in agony. She conducted a 33-day hunger strike which, while unsuccessful, apparently motivated her son to give her the fatal dose (while passive euthanasia is legal in New Zealand, assisted suicide is not). In October 2006, he reportedly offered her a "lethal drink of crushed morphine tablets" mixed in water. After calling him a "wonderful son", she took the drink without hesitation and died several hours later. At her request, there were no resuscitation attempts.
Although Sean Davison has since left New Zealand for his home in South Africa, a police investigation is underway. Following his mother's death, he has become an advocate for euthanasia. A recent survey has indicated that 71% of New Zealanders favour medically-assisted death.