77-year-old seeks court declaration to allow her medically-assisted death

June 19, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

A 77-year-old GTA woman in "intolerable suffering" from incurable osteoarthritis wants medical assistance to die but can't find a doctor willing to do it.

The only issue is whether her natural death is "reasonably foreseeable" — a controversial restriction in the doctor-assisted dying legislation introduced last year.

On Monday she will take the unusual step of asking a Superior Court judge to declare whether she meets the requirement, allowing her doctors to help her die without fear of prosecution for murder and providing clarification that could help others in the same position as her.

"I will remain here in this room forever, in pain, until someone allows me to die," she said in an affidavit filed with the court. "I have no future."

She was referred to a doctor earlier this year who found that she met all the criteria, including that her natural death was reasonably foreseeable, and agreed to perform the procedure. Eventually, as required by law, she found a second doctor who said she was eligible.

While her condition is not terminal and she could die from any number of causes, she does not have long to live given her age, her incurable, debilitating illness and declining health, the doctor found according to an affidavit.

But by then the first doctor had changed his mind out of concern he could be charged with murder.

Since at least one other doctor has disagreed she meets the requirement of reasonable foreseeable death, he is "uncomfortable performing the procedure" because if he is legally incorrect he could be criminally prosecuted, he said in an affidavit.

The identity of the woman and her health-care providers is under a publication ban. 

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