Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Terminally-Ill Man Pleads for Permanent Law Change to Allow Assisted Death

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Terminally-Ill Man Pleads for Permanent Law Change to Allow Assisted Death

Article excerpt

Terminally-ill man pleads for law change

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TORONTO - An elderly man who won court approval Thursday to have a doctor help him die -- likely this weekend -- pleaded with the government to change the law permanently to legalize doctor-assisted deaths.

In a statement read to the court, the terminally ill man, 81, said he had lived a long and wonderful life but was troubled with the current legal situation.

"My only regret in these last months is that my family and I have had to expend what little energy I have left to fight this court battle," the man, who can only be identified as A.B., said in the statement.

"My wish is that our government will see fit to make permanent changes in the law so that no other family will have to do this ever again."

In the first such case in Ontario -- and the third in Canada outside Quebec -- Superior Court Justice Paul Perell approved A.B.'s request for an exemption to Criminal Code provisions on assisted suicide under a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

The approval, which followed a 30-minute hearing, was unopposed by the federal and provincial governments.

Perell also agreed to the man's request that his death be classified as caused by disease, obviating the need to notify the coroner as would normally be required. The man and his family opposed coroner involvement given that it could lead to police involvement, an unnecessary autopsy or toxicology tests.

In brief submissions to the court, A.B.'s lawyer Andrew Faith stressed that the condition of his client, diagnosed with lymphoma in 2012, was worsening, leading to urgency in the need for the court approval.

"He would like to be in a position to avail himself of this relief this weekend," Faith told the court.

Perell did express some unease with the idea that the coroner could be bypassed in all assisted-death cases -- noting a case could arise in which someone was severely disabled rather than terminally ill. Faith said Thursday's decision was based only on the specific circumstances of his client.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws that bar doctors from helping someone die, but put the ruling on hold for one year. …

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