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Lecretia Seales’ husband speaks in Wellington

Lecretia Seales’ husband speaks in Wellington


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Husband Matt Vickers


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Lecretia Seales' husband Matt Vickers said Justice Collins’ decision was “terribly disappointing” at a press conference held today at Russell McVeagh in Wellington.

“Lecretia sought a ruling in two parts. She wanted the High Court to declare that assisted dying was not unlawful under the Crimes Act, and that her physician would not be prosecuted if they helped her to die.”

Justice Collins “accepted evidence that, under the status quo, others who are terminally ill have taken their lives prematurely while they were still able to, robbing them of a longer life”, Vickers said.

Despite this, Justice Collins did not grant the declarations Lecretia was looking for.

Vickers said he was relieved that his wife was unconscious when they received Justice Collins’ judgment.

“Although we did not get the rulings we sought, the judgement is very clear: the law as it is, is paternalistic, overly-protective and rooted in the past. It’s not the law as it ought to be.”

Vickers said Seales believed the law should respect people’s choices and “not tell competent, rational adults that they don’t know their own mind”.

“Lecretia listened to me as I explained the decision. Even though she couldn’t speak, she was able to share her feelings through her expression. There was no mistaking her response. She was hurt and disappointed. She fixed me with a stare with her good eye as if to say: isn’t this my body? My life? Her breath slowed and she turned her head away. Her reaction utterly broke my heart.”

Vickers said, “I say – let the person who is dying choose the manner in which they die. If they request help, and a doctor agrees to help, who are we to have laws to stand in the way of that compassionate act?

“The intent of both parties is to end suffering. It just so happens that sometimes, when that suffering is so great, the only release from that suffering is death. That is not murder. That is not suicide. That is mercy.

New Zealand parliament has voted down assisted dying legislation twice, once in 1995 and again in 2003, preventing the bill from reaching the select committee stage.

Vickers is calling on the 51st parliament to bring together a select committee to address the issues and promote public debate.

“I am calling on our elected representatives to have the courage to debate this issue, to show a quantum of the courage my wife has shown these past months.”

He implored the Prime Minister to initiate the debate.

“Prime Minister, I urge you to give the public what they want and start the debate. I urge you to follow my wife’s example and to be a courageous leader.”

New Zealand could learn from other countries, he said.

“We do not have to copy these countries outright but lets not say people must suffer against their will because we’re afraid of change.”

Decisions in similar cases overseas indicate that death does not necessarily rule out an appeal, however a decision has not been made in the Seales case.

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ENDS

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