The debate over euthanasia has played out between some of the most vocal proponents and opponents in the country.
Former prime minister Sir Bill English spoke of his fierce opposition ahead of Matt Vickers, the husband of the late Lecretia Seales, as they made opposing submissions about the End of Life Choice Bill.
Seales, a Wellington lawyer, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2011 and unsuccessfully sought in the High Court of New Zealand a judgment that would protect her doctor from prosecution should she consent to die with medical assistance.
Seales died on June 5, 2015, on the same day the judgment in Seales v Attorney General was delivered.
Justice David Collins ruled that a doctor could not assist her to end her life without the risk of prosecution.
The End of Life Choice Bill, sponsored by Act Party leader David Seymour, has received a record 35,000 public submissions to the Justice Select Committee.
This is the most submissions received by a select committee since the legalisation of same-sex marriage drew 22,000 submissions in 2012.
Speaking for the first time as a submitter, English told the Justice Select Committee that killing had always been banned and that was fundamental to humanity.
"In effect the [proposed] law asks us to look the other way."
What starts as permitted would become desirable and then for some an unconsented necessity, English said.
"That is the slippery slope," he said.
The criteria in the Bill was too broad and subjective - "that creates uncertainty".
Usually, legislature works very hard to mitigate what would be very small risks - this would open large risks, English said.
"Safeguards mean nothing if there are no consequences for breaking them."
It was not properly open to the scrutiny it required, he said.
"Remember this bill makes the doctor immune from criminal and civil law."
It would not be possible to break open the doctor's confidential relationship with the patient, there would be no evidence, he said.
"This may explain why in the 15 years there has been euthanasia law in a number of different jurisdictions there are no court cases."
English said the test for consent was poor in the proposed bill and did not meet the necessary threshold.
"You have to make sure no person had their life taken against their will … that's the threshold."
English said the conscientious objection clause did not protect doctors who oppose euthanasia, and that was "repugnant".
The impact on the "common good is much greater" than proponents would accept.
Mary English said as a medical professional she was "totally opposed to the state-sanctioned killing" of the vulnerable either by assisted-suicide or euthanasia.
It was both legally inconsistent and cynical to signal that suicide is a tragedy for the young but progressive for the elderly, she said.
She had witnessed first-hand patient concern of being a burden and elder abuse was a concern, she said.
She said she strongly believed "legally sanctioning this euthanasia would tip the balance of presumption by the patient" from the idea they should be helped to a sense of duty not to be a burden.
Otago Age Concern in the last year recorded 180 cases of elder abuse, she said.
The bottom-line for doctors was clear, she said.
"We don't want to harm, we don't want to miss a diagnosis", she said.
"We don't want to be responsible for the death of a patient that did not need to happen."
Why should doctors sanitise this, she asked.
Vickers said the law should only be available to the terminally ill and began his address by asking each individual to imagine they were ill.
"So you find yourself in palliative care. You don't know whether your death will be quick and painless, or drawn out and horrendous," Vickers said.
"You're strong, but you're not superhuman. You're a neat, tidy person, and this feels out of control."
How does that person attempt to find some control?
"Now imagine wanting that choice so much, that you're willing, in the grip of terminal decline, to go to the public and sue the New Zealand government to get it."
Seales was willing to go to those lengths, he said.
"This bill is for Lecretia and people like Lecretia."
Vickers said it was important to remember terminally ill people did not want to die, his wife did not want to die.
But he likened it to having the choice of jumping from a burning building, and said he did not believe that constituted a suicide.
"I think it's important that we provided choices to people."
Speaking to the Herald after the submissions Vickers said he wished Seales was still there to speak on the issue.
"It's important to me to see this thing through," he said.
"I feel I have a responsibility to do that on her behalf."
Vickers will be joined at a memorial lecture for Seales by Julian Gardner and Tricia Malowney tonight at the Old Government Buildings in Wellington.
Gardner is a lawyer and immediate past Victorian Public Advocate. Malowney is a health advocate for women with disabilities and was the Inaugural President of the Victorian Disability Services Board.
"While palliative care can and generally does perform an excellent job there are a small number of cases where it can't relief suffering and a compassionate society should do something about that," Gardner said.
They needed to strive for a law that enabled autonomy but protected the vulnerable, he said.
Malowney said the issue really was about people who were at the very end of their lives, not about the elderly or the disabled.
"If we keep emphasising that I think it will give people some comfort."