New Zealand Euthanasia Advocate Who Killed Mother Won’t Leave Prison

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 30, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Zealand Euthanasia Advocate Who Killed Mother Won’t Leave Prison Email this article
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by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
August 30, 2004

Wellington, New Zealand ( — New Zealand euthanasia advocate Lesley Martin has been denied a chance to leave prison. Martin’s second application for home detention was denied on the grounds she still does not think it was wrong to kill her mother.

Martin was sentenced to 15 months in jail in March after her conviction in connection with the attempted murder of her mother, Joy.

Martin’s husband, Warren Fulljames, told the New Zealand Herald that, in asking Martin to admit wrongdoing, the parole board was "asking for something she’s not able to give."

Martin is serving jail time in Arohata Women’s Prison near Wellington. Her legal appeal is expected to be heard in November.

In June, authorities turned down Martin’s first request for home detention, saying that she posed an undue risk to the community.

At that time, the parole board noted that Martin was dangerous because she stood by her "earlier comment to the effect you would do the same again or help others do the same," in advocating euthanasia.

Now, however, Martin has pledged not to speak publicly about her case until her release date in December. The parole board noted that Martin’s pledge "minimizes concerns about risk."

Still, Martin is considered ineligible for home detention as long as she "is unable unequivocally to acknowledge the impropriety of her offending or articulate how she might do things differently in a like situation."

Fulljames told the Herald, "The judge gave her leave to apply for home detention, which she has done. However, she’s been declined on the grounds that they want her to say ‘yes I did it; I’m guilty.’ The jury have already found her guilty."

In May 1999, Martin injected her mother with 60 milligrams of morphine in an effort to kill her. Martin claimed that her mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer, did not want to live with pain.

Martin’s conviction has been considered a setback for the international pro-euthanasia movement, which promotes "mercy killings" in response to the difficulties posed by long-term illness.

But, according to Wesley Smith, a leading monitor of bioethics issues, the so-called "right to die" campaign is simply trying to legitimize murder.

Smith recently wrote, "the overriding and implacable goal of the movement will always be what it has been from its inception more than one hundred years ago — legalized killing as a legitimate answer to illness and human suffering."