Wellington right-to-die lawyer accepts other groups will intervene with her case

Lecretia Seales.

Lecretia Seales.

A terminally-ill Wellington lawyer trying to clarify the law on assisted dying has accepted a judge's ruling to allow interest groups to join her court case.

Lecretia Seales, 42, was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2011 but with her health deteriorating, she petitioned the High Court in Wellington to uphold her right to die at a time of her choosing with the assistance of a doctor. 

On Friday, Justice David Collins decided the lobby groups Care Alliance, Voluntary Euthanasia, and the Human Rights Commission would be allowed to have a say in her case.

Their intervention would give them the right to present additional evidence to the court under strict conditions. The case was due to start on May 25.

A post written on her behalf on her blog said the groups' participation would be so strict and on such specific terms, they could only reasonably respond to her circumstances.

The applicants were unlikely to be able to speak in court unless invited to and length restrictions on their submissions would force them to be concise, the post said on Friday.

It said the court ruling also meant if Seales won her case, the groups would not be able to complain that their evidence was ignored and that they had no opportunity to be heard.

"By denying the applicants, some parties may have responded that the hearing is ignoring the voices of vulnerable New Zealanders, or ignoring overseas evidence for or against Lecretia's case."  

Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand president, Dr Jack Havill, said the group hoped its intervention would support Seales' arguments and help to bring balance
to the debate.

Care Alliance spokesman Matthew Jansen said the organisation was taking time to consider and understand the judgement to allow his group to be part of the proceedings.

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The group stated both euthanasia and assisted suicide went against the medical profession's core values and undermined the patient-doctor relationship, which was built on trust.

A Human Rights Commission spokeswoman said the case raised important human rights issues that had implications for many people. 

"We believe it is important the High Court has the benefit of an independent perspective on human rights principles and the legal framework which applies in cases like this," she said.

The blog also revealed Seales had stopped having chemotherapy because it had failed to improve her condition and was beginning palliative care.

"From a New Zealand medicine perspective, this is the end of the line in terms of cancer treatment. The oncologist also indicated that timelines were perhaps shorter than we anticipated, so we are processing that news too.

"We haven't given up hope, and are following up the latest leads and clinical trials that might improve Lecretia's health."

 - Stuff

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