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The Case of New Zealand Euthanasia Activist Leslie Martin

List of articlesThe Case of New Zealand Euthanasia Activist Leslie Martin

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Lesley Martin was charged with attempted murder on the same day legislation forcing a conscience vote on euthanasia was introduced in the New Zealand Parliament. She was arrested and remanded on bail for the alleged attempted murder in 1999 of her dying mother, Joy.

Martin claimed in a book, To Die Like a Dog, that she tried to assist her cancer-stricken mother to die in 1998. Police reactivated a homicide inquiry into her mother’s death last year after the publication of Martin’s book. Martin, an intensive care nurse, was ordered by a Wanganui District Court judge not to talk to the media.

Although freedom of speech is enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. Judge Gregory Ross initially granted euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin bail only on condition that she did not speak to the media.

Three weeks later the court imposed gagging order was lifted, although she still cannot discuss her case. Nevertheless, Martin has been allowed to resume her campaign to legalise euthanasia, and was given permission to leave New Zealand to speak before a Voluntary Euthanasia conference in Australia between May 27 and June 3.

Her arrest comes at the same time that the issue has been forced on to the Parliament’s agenda by NZ First MP Peter Brown, who drafted the Death with Dignity Bill following the deaths of his father and a close friend.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has come out in support of voluntary euthanasia as mercy killing comes back on to the political agenda. The Prime Minister will vote for the introduction of Brown’s Death with Dignity bill, saying that, terminally-ill people should have “the right to choose, but legislation needs to be very carefully framed” as it is “a complex issue which needs to be carefully handled and it may well need modification in the select committee.”

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