Face of the day


I admire today’s face of the day. She is selfless, as she is unlikely to benefit from a law change to allow assisted suicide but if she succeeds it will benefit others in her situation. When an animal is dying and in pain we euthanise it because that is the humane thing to do. We do not let it get thinner and thinner while pumping it full of drugs trying to keep it out of pain. We do not sit beside it and watch it for weeks or months as it lies there drifting in and out of consciousness.

If I was in her situation I would want the right to end my life painlessly when I was ready. It would be my decision and mine alone to make. Palliative care is not always a dignified or painless way to end your life. The reality can be devastating. Surely we should not deny a fellow human being the right to decide when they have had enough?? The doctor does not have to do it. We could provide the person with a device that would add the drug to their drip. They could activate it when they were ready.

Lecretia Seales is seeking a ruling giving her doctor the right to give her a lethal dose of drugs. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

Lecretia Seales is seeking a ruling giving her doctor the right to give her a lethal dose of drugs. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

…Three decades later, Seales, by now a high-achieving Wellington lawyer, began suffering excruciating headaches and losing her vision. She was afraid she had a brain tumour, her mum told the Herald on Sunday yesterday.

…It was a brain tumour, and 41-year-old Seales has since been told her cancer is terminal.

The prognosis is dire, but Shirley Seales says her daughter doesn’t want pity — she wants change.

The senior legal and policy adviser at the Law Commission made New Zealand history on Friday when she filed a statement of claim in the High Court seeking a ruling to determine whether her doctor could lawfully administer a lethal dose of drugs.

Seales isn’t surprised her daughter wants to spend the end of her life fighting for a right that she probably won’t live long enough to benefit from.

“She doesn’t expect there will be change in her lifetime but she wants to help others coming behind her in a similar situation. She makes us all so proud.”

Assisting suicide is punishable by up to 14 years’ jail but Seales’ case relies on provisions in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act that protect the rights to not be deprived of life or subjected to cruel treatment.

If the bid is successful, it would allow the doctor to euthanise Seales because of her specific circumstances and would not set a precedent.

Shirley Seales is proud of Lecretia.

Shirley Seales is proud of Lecretia.

But a favourable High Court ruling would allow others to follow suit and potentially send a signal to Parliament for further law reform.

Her family supported Seales 100 per cent, her mum said.

“She is a very kind, very giving and considered person who doesn’t do things without thinking them through. I guess people would say ‘why would you give your energy for something like this when you don’t have a lot of energy to give’. But she’s passionate about wanting to make a change.”

Shirley Seales watched her own father “die a most awful lingering death. He was like an animal moaning. I think anybody who is opposed to it has never actually been in the situation. You just don’t want to see somebody you love suffer.”

The assistant bishop of Auckland, the right Reverend Jim White, had also seen needless suffering.

He was disappointed former Labour MP’s Maryan Street removed her voluntary euthanasia bill from the private member’s bill ballot in 2013. “If it had gone to select committee we might have had a chance to talk about it.”

Seales has written to Prime Minister John Key, whom she knows after working in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, about her challenge.

Last night he would not comment on her legal bid, a spokesman saying only: “The Prime Minister is aware of Ms Seales’ illness and his thoughts are with her at this difficult time.”

– Herald on Sunday