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“I will die with dignity.”
This was the opening quotation that graced the Endmark page of our January/February 2012 issue. The words belong to Gloria Taylor, an ALS sufferer from Kelowna who has been fighting for the right to doctor-assisted suicide. On Friday June 15th, Taylor and five other plaintiffs received a favorable ruling from the BC Supreme Court. The decision: banning physician-assisted suicide was unconstitutional.
Justice Lynn Smith, who decided the case, suspended the ruling for one year in order for Parliament to consider new legislation, and an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada is all but guaranteed.
In the meantime, however, Smith granted Taylor a special constitutional exception to take her own life with the assistance of a physician. If she goes though with it, Gloria Taylor will get the dignity she was looking for.
From our January/February 2012 Issue:
Gloria Taylor has ALS, a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that doesn’t affect cognition but causes muscular atrophy and a slow, cruel death. She seeks the legal right to die at a time of her own choosing, a right she would have if she were a resident of Oregon, Washington, or Montana; or of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, or Switzerland. Should we permit carefully controlled, voluntary suicide for mentally competent people who are terminally ill and facing an irreversibly painful, undignified end? The question was last posed in B.C. Supreme Court in 1993, when Sue Rodriguez-another ALS sufferer-sought to overturn the law prohibiting assisted suicide. Have times changed since then? Gloria Taylor desperately hopes so. – Gary Stephen Ross