VANCOUVER, B.C. (October 29, 2013) – The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is taking its fight for physician-assisted dying for the gravely ill to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The BCCLA has filed for leave to appeal a recent BC ruling that denied seriously ill Canadians the right to choose an assisted death. In a rare move, the BCCLA has also asked the Court to fast-track its decision to hear the case and to speed up the timeline for hearing the appeal if the Court grants leave. Last year the BC Supreme Court ruled that the ban on assisted dying violates the rights of the gravely ill, but the decision was overturned at the BC Court of Appeal.
Elayne Shapray, a woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) who is seeking the right to die with dignity, has stepped forward in the BCCLA’s challenge to the laws that criminalize assisted dying.
Ms. Shapray filed an affidavit in support of the BCCLA’s application to the Supreme Court of Canada stating she is tormented by the knowledge she may become trapped in an unbearable dying process and forfeit the ability to take her own life.
Ms. Shapray states, “I would, for obvious reasons, prefer a peaceful death surrounded by my loved ones and many friends. As matters now stand, I will have to act alone, while I still can. My choices for bringing about my death unassisted are severely limited – self starvation, over medication or some violent self inflicted injury. I know that the actual manner in which I take my life will be wrenching for the people that care for me.”
Grace Pastine, litigation director for the BCCLA, states, “We are asking the Supreme Court of Canada to fast-track its decision to hear the case and to speed up the timeline for hearing the appeal if the Court grants leave. This is a matter of extreme urgency in which the fate of gravely ill Canadians hangs in the balance. The government has made clear that it will not bring the issue of physician-assisted dying before Parliament. The Supreme Court of Canada is the only place seriously ill Canadians can look to protect their constitutional rights.”