I hesitated before writing this. I knew that nothing I could write would do justice to the courage of Ms Seales and her family and supporters.
The recent decision of Justice Collins on assisted death makes legal sense to me. I struggled to understand prior to his decision how he could legally support Ms Seales’ case. To do so really requires a law change and that must come from Parliament.
Ms Seales’ court case has clarified the law from the perspective of statutory interpretation. It has highlighted its shortcomings. As much as she would have liked a different outcome, I can’t help but suspect that with such a sharp legal mind she knew she would probably not win, and that the “win” would be if the decision could push those who represent us to show some courage by dealing with this issue, front-on, and stop running away.
So, who supports assisted death? The Right? The Left? A mix? And who opposes?
The Right speak about personal responsibility. They talk about it all the time. Some practice it, some don’t. Being able to end your life in a humane way with the help of all that humans have developed is the ultimate in taking personal responsibility. On one view of the argument.
Resolving this issue will require courageous leadership. So far it has been left to victims and victims families. Change has been slow.
What I would like to see is a discussion between the legal and medical communities (and by medical I mean in its broadest sense) about the kind of protocols, regulations and criteria that might be devised to give people the right to be assisted, in a humane way, to their deaths AND how those protocols, regulations and criteria will protect the vulnerable and to deter those who may use the “power” for evil. Bear in mind that about 47 people per year, on average, get murdered each year in NZ, so we are not a nation tending toward willfully taking each others lives (twice as many people die from workplace injury than are murdered).
Can we not move from “this is evil” or “unfettered right to assisted death” to concrete proposals for how this might work, and then debate from that point?
Visit Lecretia’s website and read her husband’s statement about the decision and the path for Parliament.
The Court decision is here. Please read it.
And then tell me, what does courage look like?
The image is from Lecretia’s website. If anyone in her family objects we will remove it.