LECRETIA’S CHOICE: A STORY OF LOVE, DEATH AND THE LAW
MATT VICKERS (TEXT, $37)
This is as much the story of a relationship as it is of lawyer Lecretia Seales’ well-publicised effort to kick-start a law change to allow assisted dying, before she herself succumbed to cancer in June 2015.
As with all good love stories, it starts with a cute first meeting between the couple – in this case, when Seales is at a bar with friends and Vickers steals one of their chips. It’s a slow start for the pair, due in part to the fact that their first-night drunken pash turns out to have been conspicuously out of character for Seales. They survive misunderstandings and separations, move in together and go through all the stresses and strains modern youngish couples do when they have challenging careers. Vickers, in fact, is a bit drifty at the start but soon embarks on an upwards career trajectory at Xero.
Seales is clearly a terrifically talented lawyer, with the bonus of two remarkable parents. They had her when Lecretia’s mother was 16, and there was nothing in their backgrounds to suggest any prospect of legal distinction in the family. Seales, however, ends up working with Mai Chen, then Geoffrey Palmer, before taking on a three-month secondment as an adviser to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Meanwhile they try and fail to conceive, first naturally, then through increasingly gruelling assisted reproductive technology. Then she gets the cancer that will kill her.
Sadly, it is not terribly unusual for young women to get cancer. But Lecretia Seales wasn’t just any young woman. Faced with uncertainty over the manner of her almost certain death, she sees an opportunity to use her legal brain and connections to attempt to engineer a law change that would give her some control over it. If anybody should have known how to make the most of the legal system, it was Seales. That this was not enough only makes her story as told here even sadder.