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Assisted Suicide Campaigner Will Remain In Jail, Parole Board Says
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 1, 2004

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--Assisted suicide campaigner Lesley Martin will not be released from jail until she says that it was wrong of her to inject her mother with a massive amount of morphine to end her life.

The Parole Board issued a decision Wednesday denying Martin's request for home detention.

"The Board draws a sharp distinction between breaking the law and attempting to change it," the panel wrote.

The Board told Martin that it "had concerns about undue risk to the community" considering that she is in the position to influence the minds and actions of others while continuing to insist that she would "do the same again or help others do the same in the current legal environment".

The panel also said it was "unrealistic" to believe she could be rehabilitated and would stop her public campaign to make assisted suicide legal in New Zealand.

Martin was convicted in April of attempted murder and given a 15-month sentence, rather than a possible 14-year sentence. Martin, who is the founder of a pro-euthanasia group, admitted helping her 69-year-old mother, Joy, to die in May 1999. Joy Martin had rectal cancer.

The Parole Board wrote that it would reconsider its position once Martin accepts that it was wrong to break the law and agrees to stay away from the media. Otherwise Martin will remain in jail until her statutory release date in December.

Assisted suicide is illegal in New Zealand. Last year, Parliament rejected a bill to make it legal.

Martin's supporters responded to the Board's decision by saying it motivates them more to push for legalizing assisted suicide.

Disability rights groups around the world have opposed efforts to legalize assisted suicide for years. They have argued that doing so would essentially make it "open season" for people with disabilities and anyone else who is considered undesirable or a "burden" on society -- particularly at a time when the cost of health care is high. Despite legal safeguards, many of those who have been assisted to kill themselves have not been in the final stages of terminal illness.

Related:
"Lesley Martin's Application for Home Detention" (New Zealand Parole Board )

http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/PO0406/S00315.htm

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