There is no reasonable interpretation of the country's law that allows for euthanasia, a court has been told today.

The Crown has opened its case in the civil hearing looking at clarifying the law around doctor-assisted death, in the High Court at Wellington.

Lecretia Seales' legal team submitted to Justice David Collins that the law around the issue can be interpreted to allow doctors to help in the deaths of terminally ill patients.

But Solicitor-General Mike Heron QC told the judge the issue was controversial, unethical and by no means clear in the law.


If New Zealand was to move to make euthanasia legal, then it was up to politicians to pass legislation to that effect in Parliament, he said.

"The current law applies to all. Its purpose is to protect the sanctity of life and the vulnerable."

Anybody reaching the end of their life would be considered vulnerable, Mr Heron said.

What was "strikingly absent" from the plaintiff's case were details around how doctors would assist in their patients' deaths.

"What is the doctor going to do? What's the medication? Has the doctor done it before? Is [the medication] lawful? How do we get it?"

Ms Seales, a former lawyer is dying from an inoperable brain tumour and wants the option to be able to ask her doctor to help end her life should her symptoms become unbearable.

The 42-year-old's case relies on provisions in the Bill of Rights Act enshrining the rights to not be deprived of life or subjected to cruel treatment.

Ms Seales was not present for today's morning court session.


Yesterday she attended periodically throughout the day, sitting in a wheelchair next to her mother and husband Matt near the front of the court, often with her eyes closed while she listened to her lawyers' submissions.

Ms Seales had been living with the diagnosis since March 2011, when a neurologist determined brain cancer after she had been experiencing headaches and loss of vision in her left eye.

Also joining Ms Seales' case is the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

The Human Rights Commission and anti-euthanasia group Care Alliance will also give submissions.

The public gallery was again packed for today's hearing and a handful of Ms Seales' supporters were seated in the jury box.

The hearing is expected to finish tomorrow.