15 Sep 2012

Court decision fuels euthanasia debate

8:48 am on 15 September 2012

A pro-euthanasia campaigner says the discharge without conviction of an Auckland man accused of assisting in his wife's suicide raises hopes of a law change.

Evans Mott, 61, admitted in May this year to helping Rosie Mott take her own life, following her four-year struggle with a severe form of multiple sclerosis.

Mrs Mott killed herself on 28 December last year using apparatus that her husband of 24 years had helped assemble.

Justice Courtney told the High Court in Auckland Mrs Mott was in pain and would have taken her own life by some means if Mr Mott had not agreed to help her.

Lesley Martin was jailed in 2004 after admitting in her book To Die Like a Dog that she tried to kill her terminally ill mother. She says the result of the court case is encouraging and heartening for social justice in New Zealand.

Two organisations against euthanasia, LifeNet and Family Life International, say the discharge sets a dangerous precedent for future cases of assisted suicide.

Lifenet spokesperson Brendan Malone says there should at least have been an acknowledgement by the court that what Mr Mott did was wrong.

Labour list MP Maryann Street, whose End of Life Choice Bill is in the Parliamentary ballot but has yet to be drawn, says Mr Mott's discharge underscores the need for the legislation she is proposing.