New Zealand’s leading euthanasia campaigner was sentenced to 15 months jail this week for the attempted murder of her terminally ill mother. Although she can apply for home detention, Lesley Martin, a 40-year-old married mother of two, insisted earlier that she would go to jail. “Not a single day” went by when she felt guilty about her actions, she declared.
Mrs Joy Martin, who was suffering from rectal cancer, died in 1999 after being injected with 60mg of morphine. Police initially dropped investigations, but resumed them after her daughter Lesley published a book “To Die Like a Dog” in which she described the death.
Ms Martin’s lawyer said that she would appeal the conviction and the sentence. Before the sentence, he argued that there were mitigating circumstances, such as her mother’s poor palliative care and her exhaustion and distress. A conviction would also prevent her from travelling overseas to promote euthanasia.
Australia’s most prominent euthanasia activist, Dr Philip Nitschke, blasted the “very harsh” sentence. “We see a person who acted out of the highest motives of care and love, and the law doesn’t distinguish that from a malicious act of calculated murder. The facts still are that if people didn’t do what people like Lesley Martin did, we’d still have slavery and women wouldn’t be able to vote,” he commented.
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