Lecretia Seales' partner Matt Vickers wrote a book called Lecretia’s Choice
(which was published in 2016), but since our focus in this segment is on the screen, I introduce two videos available on YouTube: a 2015 interview with Lecretia on TVNZ's Sunday programme
and the post-humous 2020 Lecretia Seales Memorial Lecture
, which played a pivotal role in the campaign in support of the End of Life Choice Act.
Here’s the backstory: In 2011 Lecretia was diagnosed with a brain tumour. When brain surgery, chemotherapy and radio therapy didn’t work, she took her case to the High Court in 2015. Essentially, she challenged New Zealand law for her right to die with the assistance of her GP, and asked for a declaration that her GP would not risk conviction.
Prior to getting ill, Lecretia worked for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Law Commission alongside Sir Geoffrey Palmer, so she had both the skills and connections to really make the case for physician-assisted dying in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In her statement of claim, Seales explained that:
I have accepted my terminal illness and manage it in hugely good spirits considering that it's robbing me of a full life. I can deal with that, and deal with the fact that I am going to die, but I can't deal with the thought that I may have to suffer in a way that is unbearable and mortifying for me.
I have lived my life as a fiercely independent and active person. I have always been very intellectually engaged with the world and my work. For me a slow and undignified death that does not reflect the life that I have led would be a terrible way for my good life to have to end.
I want to be able to die with a sense of who I am and with a dignity and independence that represents the way I have always lived my life. I desperately want to be respected in my wish not to have to suffer unnecessarily at the end. I really want to be able to say goodbye well.
Regrettably, it took another six years after her death until physican-assisted dying became legal in Aotearoa NZ.
If you want to find out more about the incredible legacy she left, you’ll find links to both videos – as well as other useful resources – on my website.