The parents of the voluntary euthanasia campaigner, the late Lecretia Seales, doubt she would have chosen to die by that method, even if she had won the court case to obtain the right.

Shirley and Larry Seales today spoke to MPs on Parliament's health select committee, which is hearing submissions on the idea of a law change to permit medically-assisted dying for people with a terminal illness or irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.

They were among nearly 150 people scheduled to speak to the MPs in Auckland, who split into three panels because of the volume of submissions.

A Wellington lawyer, Lecretia died aged 42 last year of a brain tumour, soon after a High Court judge rejected her bid for the legal right for a doctor to help end her life.


Her widower, Matt Vickers, and other supporters presented the petition of more than 8000 people for an investigation of public views on the issue, leading to the committee's inquiry.

The Seales, of Tauranga, in a submission read by Shirley, told the hearing that, like Lecretia, they believed in the sanctity of life. They also believed terminally ill people should not have to suffer intolerable pain and should have the right to a dignified death.

"Lecretia loved life and lived every day to the fullest and it would have brought her great peace of mind to know that she had control over the manner and timing of her death.

"We seriously doubt that had she had the choice, she would have exercised it."

Shirley explained to the Herald later: "The choice was what was important to Lecretia. She could tolerate pain more than anyone I know. Though she also feared losing her mind and had drawn up a directive that in that case her directive should be exercised."

Shirley told the MPs: "We support strict parameters to safeguard the vulnerable and believe it is possible to draft legislation like that proposed by Lecretia to ensure these safeguards are in place.

"Unless you have walked in the shoes of someone who has had to watch a loved one suffer, you cannot fully comprehend the significance of allowing choice to a dying person.

"Not everyone will avail themselves of this choice and we respect their right to suffer but it is unfair of them to deny others the right to choose."


The Seales implored the MPs to study the evidence presented by Lecretia's lawyers.

"Such arguments as the slippery slope, the erosion of the doctor-patient relationship and the lessening of the role of palliative care were clearly demonstrated to have no substance and the facts support the contrary ... These are experts unlike many of the emotive submissions that are based on speculation rather than facts.

"We have heard the argument that it is not necessary to have legislation because doctors are already flouting the law and assisting terminally ill patients to die. Whilst this is no doubt true, this leaves a lot to chance and is unfair on those whose doctor is not one of the ones practising this or like Lecretia the person has chosen to remain at home with their family."

Another submitter, Stephen Fraser, told the MPs, he was opposed to voluntary euthanasia.

"There are some things in life that aren't a choice," he said. "We get to live; we get to die. Those two things aren't just about us. They are about our families, they are about our sphere of influence, other people that would be affected positively or negatively by that decision."