BY: MELISSA GONZALEZ
“What would you say to people who are opposed to voluntary euthanasia?”
“Swap places with me.”
Gina, a woman painfully suffering from a rare genetic disorder, is one among thousands of people in New Zealand fighting for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.
In New Zealand there have been two prior decriminalization attempts, one in 1995 and another in 2003, both failing to pass. While Prime Minister John Key has stated he supports legalising euthanasia under some circumstances, it could take ages for a bill to hurdle the stonewall of Parliament.
As of 2015, there is a short list of countries that have legalized physician-assisted suicide: Belgium, Colombia, India, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico (with limitations) and most recently, Canada.
Former lawyer Lecretia Seales was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, and until her death in June, Lecretia fought for the right to die with dignity. She died just hours after the High Court refused Lecretia and her family the right to access physician-assisted suicide. Now her husband Matt Vickers is finishing her uphill battle by calling an inquiry to change the law that barred his wife from dying on her own terms. With the support of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand, they have created a petition that has since garnered 9,000 signatures.
The major arguments against the legalization of voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide are either grounded in dystopian assumption or religious sentiment; the fear that euthanasia could become involuntary for economic efficiency or that it will weaken the sanctity of a life bestowed by a higher power.
Those suffering make it clear: “death is a private matter and if there is no harm to others, the state and other people have no right to interfere.”
Filmmakers Wendell Cooke and Jeremy Macey decided to capture Gina’s story to incite a broader dialogue. Although Gina is unable to physically speak, her argument is piercing. “People should be allowed the choice of assisted dying if their everyday circumstances constitute cruel and unusual suffering”.