As humans we are obsessed with the idea of prolonging life.
So infatuated we are with this concept that we often pursue it blindly, allowing no life to become extinguished if there is any way to keep it alive; without question this desire to prolong life is fuelled by compassion but in some cases it goes beyond that, becoming a mindless quest and indeed, more of a callous compassion.
If a person is so affected by an incurable disease or illness that their quality of life is reduced to the point where they are unable to carry out the most simple of life’s duties; if that person’s once prosperous life and promising future no longer has any credibility; if realistically the only reason that this person is still alive is because loved ones are unwilling to let them go – or maybe they’re not…
Reminiscent of a brain dead patient in hospital during the first few days of life support: technically, despite having no hope of recuperation, to flick off the switch is murder, because humans love life in any form – no matter how pointless or impractical.
…What if there was a prominent Wellington lawyer, diagnosed in 2011 with an inoperable brain cancer? What if this middle-aged woman had struggled for the past four years, her family witnessing the deterioration of her condition; of her basic faculties? What if this woman’s only remaining wish is to die with dignity, rather than the illness-ravaged shell of a being she will inevitably become? What if her family supported her decision to have a professional perform an assisted death? Would the rules still apply? Would we still cling to our mantra, ensuring that every skerrick of vitality is squeezed from her life?
Has our inherently PC world, our innate excesses of human compassion spun so wildly out of control that we cannot see that it would be in fact more humane, more compassionate to allow this brave woman to die on her own terms?
Euthanasia in New Zealand is currently illegal – rather, it’s only legal to those people who can perform it without being found out. Of course if someone did euthanize a terminally ill patient and it was found out, the person responsible would likely be sent to prison for murder, or at least manslaughter, given that the only witness would now be deceased. It’s a dilly of a pickle.
There is no doubt in my mind that these laws, along with many of New Zealand’s law-makers, need to be relaxed. These people need to realise that there are instances where preserving life is not the most important thing. Sometimes these people just need to open their eyes and see a situation – see a life – for what it is: for Lecretia Seales, it’s been over for some time.
She just wants to die on her own terms.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Letta Digh
Photography by Oan Thames