Right to die is right to kill

June 5, 2015

Justice David Collins has ruled it is up to parliament to amend the Crimes Act to give doctors the right to help patients die without prosecution.

Lecretia Seales was unsuccessful in seeking a landmark High Court ruling to allow her doctor to help her die without criminal prosecution.

Justice David Collins released his judgment at 3pm which rejected her bid and said only Parliament can give her what she wanted. . .

Ms Seales died of natural causes at 12.35am this morning, just hours after her family and lawyers received the ruling.

The health of the 42-year-old Wellington lawyer with terminal brain cancer had deteriorated rapidly in the days since her court case last week where she was seeking a declaration that a doctor would not risk prosecution if they were to help her die.

Her family said they were “very disappointed with Justice Collin’s judgment. He found in our favour in relation to the evidence before him, but his interpretation of the purpose of the law meant he could not find aid in dying was available to Lecretia or inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.”

They added: “The judgment has starkly highlighted that the status quo is not ideal; that people are at risk of intolerable suffering and are at risk of ending their lives earlier than they would otherwise. Justice Collins was clear that it is for Parliament to address these issues. . .

The grief Lucretia’s family and friends will be dealing with will be compounded by their disappointment that the case which occupied so much of her final weeks was unsuccessful.

They might choose to honour her memory by campaigning for a law change.

None of us would choose to suffer nor to watch anyone we love suffer.

That suffering might not just be intense physical pain, it could be the loss of dignity which physical and/or mental deterioration can lead to.

But euthanasia is not just about people’s control over their own lives and deaths.

As I wrote on this issue six years ago:

. . . There might be a grey area now about pain relief which gets to the level where it could be fatal but there is a huge gulf between alleviating pain and deliberately killing someone.

If we ever consider our own mortality most of us would choose to die without pain and with all our faculties intact.

Life and death aren’t always that tidy and palliative care isn’t always optimal.

That is a very strong argument for better palliative care, not an argument for euthanasia. . .

Those arguing for euthanasia talk about the right to die.

Let us not forget that it would give doctors the right to kill.

UPDATE:

The judgement is here.

The family’s response to the judgement is here.


Which rules are lawful?

June 27, 2014

Lucan Battison has won his court case against St John’s College over his suspension for having long hair:

Today Justice David Collins ruled in favour of Lucan, stating the suspension was unlawful, as was the hair rule set out by the school. . .

St John’s College principal Paul Melloy said the school was “disappointed” by the decision.

He said the school board would consider the judgment “in terms of its impact, both on our school and on other schools”.

“It is not about the individual student but being able to manage our school in a positive equitable environment, this includes compliance with our rules,” he said in a statement. . .

Suspension was the nuclear option and other consequences could have been imposed first.

But all schools and other organisations are now going to be faced with the potential for the questioning of their rules because this ruling calls into question which rules are lawful and which are not.

I wonder what the school’s teachers, board and other parents think of the rule, the court case and the verdict?

Life isn’t always fair or reasonable but surely a school has the right to set its own rules and interpret them as it sees fit?

 


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