The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

B.C. civil liberties group to argue for right to die in Supreme Court of Canada

  • Print

VANCOUVER - A B.C. civil liberties group has filed their written argument against an appeal court decision upholding the country's ban on assisted suicide.

Grace Pastine of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says the organization will argue before the Supreme Court of Canada that assisted suicide should be legal on behalf of the families of people who wanted to die with dignity.

"It is time to change the law," said Anne Fomenoff, the mother of deceased high-profile plaintiff Gloria Taylor. "I feel Gloria is with me every day and I feel her sitting beside me on this table — I can hear her encouraging me, 'Go for it mom.'"

Taylor made headlines in 2012 when Justice Lynn Smith of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the existing law banning assisted suicide was unconstitutional, but delayed her ruling for a year to allow the federal government to rewrite the statute.

Smith also granted Taylor an exemption that would have allowed her to seek an assisted death.

Taylor was terminally ill with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, but didn't use the constitutional exemption. She died of an infection in October 2012.

The federal government appealed the B.C. Supreme Court decision, and the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the ruling last October.

For other plaintiffs in the case such as Lee Carter, whose mother Kathleen Carter received a doctor-assisted suicide in Switzerland, the right to die was described as a relief.

Kathleen Carter suffered from spinal stenosis, a degenerative condition which confined her to a wheelchair.

She was in chronic pain and unable to feed herself.

"We were uplifted that my mom had been able to realize her last wish — that she would experience death, the choice being hers and the sum of her family." said Lee Carter. "But she felt Canadians shouldn't have to travel to Switzerland to die with dignity."

Sixty-seven-year-old Elayne Shapray, a plaintiff in the case whose body is wracked with multiple sclerosis called the ban on assisted suicide "discriminatory."

She says it prevents those suffering from chronic, debilitating conditions from having a peaceful death.

"Ending my life in self-starvation, overmedication or some other self-inflicted injury are my only options," she said.

She says that she is incapable of feeding herself or performing the most basic tasks without 24-hour care.

"My disease destroys the quality of my daily life in many ways," said Carter. "This compromises my autonomy, independence, privacy and self-esteem."

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association will be presenting its case in court on Oct. 14.

Assisted suicide continues to be a hotbed of debate in the country.

Quebec also was looking at legalizing doctor-assisted death with Bill 52, which died on the order paper when the provincial election was called.

Former Conservative cabinet minister Steven Fletcher said in March he plans to introduce two private member's bills that would allow assisted suicide in some cases.

The Manitoba MP, who was in an accident in 1996 that left him a quadriplegic, says one of the bills would, if passed, allow doctors to help people end their lives under certain restricted circumstances.

The other bill would establish a commission to monitor the system and make recommendations for improvement.

In 1993, Victoria resident Sue Rodriguez, an ALS patient, wanted the right to choose how and when to die and brought her case all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, which decided to uphold the laws banning assisted suicide in a divided 5-4 decision.

Rodriguez took her own life in 1994 with the help of an anonymous doctor.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay has said he has no interest in revisiting the debate.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - The Floodway Connection

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should political leaders be highly visible on the frontlines of flood fights and other natural disasters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google