A New Zealand euthanasia campaigner died on Friday just hours after receiving a judgement that rejected her case for assisted suicide, the High Court revealed.
Lecretia Seales, a lawyer suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, launched a landmark legal bid to allow her doctor immunity from prosecution if the medic assisted her death. The 42-year-old's family said she died of natural causes early Friday.
New Zealand's High Court said her death came shortly after she received judge David Collins' ruling that changing the laws on euthanasia was a role for parliament, not the courts.
"The judge conveys to Ms Seales? husband, family and friends his deepest condolences."
Seales' legal team had argued that her doctor should be able to help her die if her suffering became intolerable and refusing such assistance would breach her human rights.
Collins ruled that her doctor could be charged with murder for administering a fatal drug, or manslaughter for giving her a dose of drugs to self-administer that led to her death.
"Only parliament can change the law to reflect Ms Seales' wishes the courts cannot trespass on the role of parliament," he said in his judgement.
"The complex legal, philosophical, moral and clinical issues raised by Ms Seales' proceedings can only be addressed by parliament passing legislation to amend the effect of the Crimes Act."
Seales' family said Collins had acknowledged that she was not vulnerable and her wish for assisted death was "a rational and intellectually rigorous response to her circumstances".
"For us, as a family, it is terribly disappointing that the judge was prepared to go as far as he did but not take this last step," they said in a statement.
"The judgment has starkly highlighted that the status quo is not ideal."
They said the case had generated huge public interest and called on parliament, which has stalled previous attempts to debate euthanasia, to comprehensively examine the issue.
"It is clear beyond doubt that people want to debate this issue regardless of their personal position," they said. "The debate needs to happen. The time is now."