Assisted suicide isn’t legal in Canada but Gloria Taylor thinks it should be. ‘I want my family and friends to hold my hand and send me onto happily ever after filled with love,’ she told CBC Radio in a shaky but firm voice about her fight to die with dignity.
The 63-year-old Kelowna woman suffers from late stage ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), a fatal neurodegenerative disease. There is no cure or treatment.
‘The government has no right to my life, no right to my suffering and no right to my dying,’ says Taylor. Recently, the B.C. Supreme Court agreed to fast-track the assisted suicide case to account for her deteriorating health.
There are a complicated legal issues at play here. Grace Pastine, the litigation director for the B.C. Civil Liberties’ Association says the goal is to ‘allow mentally competent adults who are suffering from an incurable illness the right to receive medical assistance to hasten death under specific safeguards.’ The keyword there is safeguards. Those would include patient counseling and assessment by multiple physicians.
Sue Rodriguez, who suffered from ALS, famously fought for the right to die in Canada decades ago. Rodriguez lost the case, but in the end an anonymous doctor assisted her suicide in 1994.
Gloria Taylor wants to finish Sue Rodriguez’s fight before her ability to speak and get dressed in the morning is slowly taken away by ALS. Taylor is confident she’ll win the case and doesn’t mind spending her final days battling in court, saying ‘I feel strongly in my heart that this is my destiny; part of my journey.’
Do you think Canada’s assisted suicide laws should be revised for the seriously ill?
– Marlene Rego, web editor, besthealthmag.ca