Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An American woman who was allegedly hired to help a non-terminally woman in New Zealand die may be charged with murder

According to this report in the New Zealand Star-Times, a New Zealand woman, Audrey Monica Wallis, 49, allegedly paid $12,000 to an American woman, Susan Wilson, to help her die using the veterinary euthanasia drug Nembutal. If proved, the case will set a precedent as the first known case of paid euthanasia in New Zealand.

According to a police source, Wilson would be charged with murder or assisting a suicide, which had penalties of life imprisonment and a maximum of 14 years' jail respectively, it is reported.
Audrey Wallis, it is said, was depressed and suffering health problems from an addiction to prescribed medications. She died at her home in Auckland last August.

According to the story, none of her family or friends knew that she had called upon someone to help her take her life, and were shocked to hear of Wilson's involvement.

How did Audrey Wallis's gender factor, if at all, in her decision to request assisted suicide? And what kind of support did she have to help her deal with her depression and addiction? Did she have access to good medical care? And are women more likely that men to be extended the means for physician-assisted suicide? For FRIDA readers interested in feminist analyses of gender difference and assisted suicide, you might want to read the articles here and here. The first is a link to a 1998 article in the Cardoza Woman's Law Journal called "Woman and Assisted Suicide: Exposing The Gender Vulnerability To Acquiescent Death." It examines the women who were assisted in their suicides by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and analyzes the vulnerability among certain women to acquiesent suicide. In the second piece, a group of feminists consider the question of whether the legalization of physician-assisted suicide endangers women, in particular, and offers arguments for, and arguments against, a blanket prohibition against it.