Assisted dying legislation faces new legal challenge
A B.C. woman with spinal muscular atrophy is joining the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association to challenge the federal government’s new assisted dying legislation.
Julia Lamb, 25, of Chilliwack, B.C., launched the challenge with the BCCLA in Vancouver on Monday morning.
She said that if her condition worsens, she could find herself trapped in physical and mental suffering for years and even decades.
“If my suffering becomes intolerable, I would like to be able to make a final choice about how much suffering to endure,” Lamb said.
The lawsuit challenges the new assisted dying law, which only allows medically assisted dying for Canadians with terminal illness. It does not permit assistance in dying for those who are suffering with no immediate end in sight.
“This legislation is clearly unconstitutional. It deliberately excludes a class of Canadians – those who are suffering with no immediate end in sight. How can we turn away and ignore their pleas?” said Grace Pastine, litigation director for the BCCLA.
New legislation was ordered by court
The Liberal government’s controversial assisted dying legislation was approved on June 17, after passing a vote in the Senate earlier that day.
It was spurred by a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down the ban on physician-assisted dying on the grounds that it violated Canadians’ Charter rights.
But the legislation was criticized in part because it was limited to those facing a “reasonably foreseeable” death.
Critics say that excludes people with a non-terminal illness, including Kay Carter, who launched the original court challenge with the BCCLA before her death.
“The new legislation will have the perverse effect of forcing seriously ill Canadians to resort to violent methods or the ‘back alley,'” said Pastine. “People will find ways to end lives that have become unbearable, even if that means choosing a violent, risky death. No one should be forced to make that cruel choice.”
The government said it was operating under a compressed timeframe to meet a June 6 deadline imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada and promised there will be further study and amendments could come down the road.
Spinal muscular atrophy is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of motor neurons and progressive muscle wasting, often leading to early death.
See the original article here –