Euthanasia strikes a nerve

By June 1, 2015 Recent News

NZ Herald 30 May 2015
It is not often I wish I was a pensioner in Wellington but I did this week. Given spare time and proximity to the city’s High Court, I would have been in the public gallery every day of the hearing of Lecretia Seales’ request for euthanasia.
I’d have been very quiet, assuming most of those around me were friends and supporters of the 42-year-old woman with an inoperable brain tumour. When her battery of lawyers argued that her wish ought to be a matter between Lecretia and her doctor and that it was nobody else’s business, I’d have been asking myself, why do I care? Why am I here?
All I know is that I do not want her to take her own life, with or without assistance, and nor does the law but I don’t know why. I’d have come back the next day hoping to hear the Solicitor General, Mike Heron QC, provide a profound answer.
Reports from the court quote him saying the sanctity of life was a fundamental principle of the common law. “The principle recognises that human life is a basic, intrinsic good.” The law was designed also to protect the vulnerable.
“The right not to be killed is enjoyed regardless of inability or disability.”
The spectre of the very old and infirm being pressured to request death is not a satisfying answer to the campaign for euthanasia. Doctors pull the plug on comatose patients every day with the consent of families. Voluntary euthanasia is a much more chilling, premeditated prospect.
Lawyers for Lecretia Seales contended that she and her doctor already have the right to make the decision under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act which provides for the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruelty.