Euthanasia Activist Admits to Giving Advice After Prison Sentence

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 27, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Euthanasia Activist Admits to Giving Advice After Prison Sentence Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 27, 2005

Wellington, New Zealand ( — Euthanasia activist Lesley Martin was sentenced to a 15-month jail term for her role in the 1999 death of her terminally ill mother. She admitted at a recent workshop that she is still giving euthanasia advice to people that she says is "right on the edge of the envelope."

She held a meeting in Wellington over the weekend on behalf of her Dignity NZ group that promotes euthanasia and assisted suicide.

"It’s right on the edge of the envelope, but I certainly keep myself legal. I have no desire to revisit Arohata [prison]," Martin told meeting participants about her counsel, according to The Dominion Post newspaper.

Only five people attended the workshop, the first held following the New Zealand Supreme Court’s decision not to overturn her conviction.

Martin told the Post that she talked frankly with the handful of attendees about euthanasia legislation, palliative care, looking after the elderly and suicide.

"There are some very frank questions on (the) end of life. I hear of some of the plans people are making, like overdoses, using firearms and hanging," Martin said.

The Very Rev John Murray, former head of the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand was one of those who went. He applauded Martin for highlighting the discussion of end of life issues on a national and international level.

Martin was released in December after spending seven and a half months in prison.

Her attorney Donald Stevens filed a petition to take the case to the top court.

In November, Stevens claimed Martin was suffering from a mental disorder when she killed her mother. However, the appeals court didn’t buy the argument.

Martin contends her involvement in her mother’s death was not a criminal act and parole boards refused to grant her the chance to serve out her sentence at home saying she refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

During sentencing, Justice Wilde said Martin showed a total lack of remorse, indicating she would try to kill again if a similar situation arose. Other members of Martin’s family have condemned her actions.

Martin’s conviction has been considered a setback for the pro-euthanasia movement.

Euthanasia opponent Wesley Smith has written, "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."