LE­CRE­TIA’S CHOICE: A STORY OF LOVE, DEATH AND THE LAW

MATT VICKERS (TEXT, $37)

North & South - - Review -

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.

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