Audrey Parker, 57, pictured here in September 2018, had stage 4 breast cancer that spread through her bones to her brain. She ended her life earlier than she really wants due to Canada's 'extreme' rules around medically assisted dying. (Kayla Hounsell/CBC)

Medically assisted dying in Canada: seeking better rules

The issue of assisted dying in Canada has long been a very delicate one, for all involved including politicians, the legal system, medical staff and of course the individuals.

The latest case involved a Nova Scotia woman who had been approved for assisted death according to the requirements, but was concerned that when the time came, she wouldn’t be able to meet the legal requirement to make the decision because her disease would incapacitate her.  She had to die early to meet that requirement. A non-profit group called Dying with Dignity-Canada hopes to change the law.

Shanaaz Gokool is the CEO.


The Canadian rules involving medically assisted death state that it only applies to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering who could clearly consent to ending their lives.  Ms Parker and others feared that as the disease advanced when she decided it was time to go, she would not be able to physically make that consent, which is why she felt she had to proceed earlier than she would have wanted.

Shanaaz Gokool, CEO -Dying with Dignity Canada

Others in similar situations have had to leave Canada for places like Switzerland in order to achieve their medically assisted death when they chose and on their own terms.

Gloria Taylor, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease and who flew to Switzerland for medically assisted death in 2012, was one of several plaintiffs named in a constitutional challenge of Canada’s assisted-suicide prohibition, which the Supreme Court overturned in October 2014 to finally allow such procedures but within strict guidelines (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A video Ms Parker made before her death in November, was released on February 6th, the fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision which allowed for medically assisted death but within clear guidelines.

Gokool says the guidelines need amending to allow for cases like Audrey Parker’s and hopes the group doesn’t have to go to court to force the government to make them.

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