Update: Government of Canada Condemns Gloria Taylor to Slow Death

On Friday the 13th, the Conservative government of Canada dealt Gloria Taylor a cruel blow. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced his government will appeal the ruling that would have allowed her to die with dignity.

A month earlier the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted the 64-year-old woman, who suffers from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease), the right to request the assistance of her doctor if she wished to end her life.

She and four other plaintiffs had asked the courts to overturn a law making it a criminal offense for doctors to assist their patients to end their lives. In June Justice Lynn Smith prepared a 395-page decision that pointed out the cruel irony of the law. As I reported then:

She pointed out that suicide is not illegal in Canada. Therefore, criminalizing doctor-assisted suicide is a charter violation which denies full equality to disabled people. She also pointed out it could have the unintended effect of hastening death, pushing those with terminal illnesses to end their lives while they were still physically able to do so.

In suspending the laws against physician-assisted suicide, Justice Smith gave parliament a year to work out the details. However, because of Taylor’s deteriorating health, Smith granted an exemption that will allow her to choose the time of her death.

Instead of working out the details, Justice Minister Nicholson announced on July 13th:

After careful consideration of the legal merits of the June 15, 2012 ruling from the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Government of Canada will appeal the decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and will seek a stay of all aspects of the lower court decision….

The laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities. The Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the state interest in protecting human life and upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation in Rodriguez (1993).

In April 2010, a large majority of Parliamentarians voted not to change these laws, which is an expression of democratic will on this topic

Next: With No Helping Hand

Linda Lyster, President of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association responded:

The Court was clear that the existing laws violate the rights of the seriously and incurably ill. For the government to waste limited public resources to prevent Gloria Taylor and other seriously and incurably ill Canadians from accessing a physician’s help in dying is absurd.

Beyond the hundreds of seriously ill Canadians this case gave hope to, Gloria Taylor specifically had the Court’s permission to access a physician’s help so that she could die with dignity. That decision was made after the Court heard weeks of evidence about Gloria’s personal situation. This level of interference by our government in the private matters between Gloria and her doctor is unacceptable.

The case decided by Justice Smith was expedited in view of Taylor’s deteriorating health. It is unlikely the Harper government’s appeal will be handled with the same speed.

Lou Gehrig’s disease gradually kills the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Gradually the brain loses its ability to send messages to the muscles. In the last stages of the disease, patients are unable to breathe or swallow on their own. The time comes when they can no longer speak.

Gloria Taylor’s condition is a death sentence. Her mind will remain lucid. She will know, as the last stages of ALS set in, why it is she is unable to slip peacefully away.


Related Care2 Stories

B.C. Supreme Court Legalizes Assisted Suicide

B.C. Woman Asks for Right to Assisted Suicide

Dignity and Compassion in Assisted Suicide


Photo credits: Thinkstock


Genoveva M.
Genoveva M M.3 years ago

I agree with Yvette S. 100%.
I saw a documentary about a men in the Netherlands suffering with terminal cancer, he was in so much pain that he and his wife made the decision to end his life with dignity. They prepare everything from the place to do it, and rented an apartment, because he didn't want to leave that memory in their home. They play his favorite music and gave them time to be together lovingly embracing each other, while he took a drink of some medicine to relax him.
When the time came they kissed and said how much they love each other, and then then he felt deeply asleep, so he didn't feel when the injection was applied to the process.
Imagine having the time to kiss and hug those you love, and leaving in total peace, avoiding all the painful memories possible to those you leave behind, and the enormous pile of unnecessary medical bills.
We shouldn't fear death so much as we all are dieing from the moment we are born. I can see the devastation if is a child, a young life, this is unfair! But when we grow old....it is different, needless to say if you make this decision while you still have your mind.
DNR is an other solution we can take, and save the trauma to our families.
No tubes, no respirator, no foley catheter, no feeding tube, but a lot of dignity which we all must have at the end.
Sometimes prolonging life is harder that the disease itself, but of course everyone has a different opinion, and all should be respected, even if unrealistic.

Dale Overall

Harper has no compassion, driven by ideology to prevent someone of sound mind from making their own decision when faced with an illness that cannot be cured. It is up to the person involved to make their own choice, it is not for me or anyone to force a torturous death when nothing can be done for pain or terminal illness. I would not like to be forced to die in this way, doctors make this decision constantly in hospitals when they know what their patients request. Individuals with sound mind know when they have had enough with a terminal illness.

Michele J.
Michele Jones4 years ago

Gene, I see all of your points. I believe God judges each person differently, not the same just based on our actions. You pointed out that most people believe if someone is born in a remote place and never hears about Jesus before he dies, then he will be condemned to hell because he never knew Jesus as Savior. I do not believe that. God is merciful and just which means he would consider all persons in the context in which they were placed on this planet.

I also question why God would give us free will when he knows we would do nothing but ruin ourselves and our planet. God knew Eve would fail and eat the forbidden fruit before he ever put her in that circumstance. I just remind myself that I have a finite human mind -- I will never know God's reasoning. But I did feel his presence when I was saved, so I cannot deny his existence.

Eva C.
Eva Cantu4 years ago

Tammy, you have posted an excellent comment, I agree with you 100 % !

Tammy B.
Tammy B.4 years ago

Alright Gene that is your opinion of which you are entitled to. Here is mine I am also entitled to it: Anyone attempting to seperate God from life as well as death are attempting to do an impossible act as to live without breathing. It is virtually impossible to do them both simultaneously. You can try as you may, you might even do it a split second not long. And Life without God is a sad and empty existence. When my baby died following open heart surgery I was 26 years old. I was very sad. And then it dawned on me I will one day in another diminsion get to raise her in heaven or wherever it is God puts me after this life. I know a loving and merciful God who would never give a mom a new life to take it back without never returning the chance to be reunited for eternity one day. He never gives anyone more than they can bear, but we need call on Him for help.& Drop the pride it dosen't help anyone especially you. But Love is God it is the Word and it is Life. When we don't love we are empty and sad. I don't know anyone who wants to be any of those things.

Eva C.
Eva Cantu4 years ago

Gene,I'am so so sorry to hear about your children really I'am. as for God ( is a he ) giving us free will he did but it is up to us if we do right or wrong, if we do right and try to live the way he wants us to so that we may be in heaven with him ( I was raised Baptist and also Christian that is I was raised going to a baptist church and as an adult I went to a Church Of Christ ) I and others try to do what it says in the bible, I know God does not expect us to be perfect because he is the only perfect one that is but if you look at all the evil around us like murderers, child molesters, blasfemy, adultrey, gay marriages/ relationships, etc so God is not a bad person I mean if we raise our children and when they grow up and kill does that mean that we were and are bad people for having raised them to be murdrerers? being born in the wrong place ? I don't get what that means , we were born where our parents decided where they wanted to have us, if that is what you mean. as for people dying , well we all have to die and there is nothing we can do about that only God has the power to do whatever he wants to and there have been people trying to make the dead live again but we know that no one on earth can do that only God can raise the dead. when I was a child me and my family were in a car accident ( kinda )we were going to be killed, let me explain how the accident was happening. I was about 8 or 9 years old and my dad was driving a station wagon, I was in the front passen

Yvette S.
Yvette S.4 years ago

In the Netherlands you can get help from a doctor BUT there are laws/rules about this!!! (You need to be terminal and have no chance of recovery,you have to ask for it and you need 2 doctors to say yes) I hope that everyone gets that right!

Eva C.
Eva Cantu4 years ago

gene, you say leave God out of this but what about when you find yourself in a crisis, who do you call out for ? God, people criticize him for EVERYTHING like we are perfect a lot of people want God when it is convenient for them but the rest of the time they don't even want to hear about him, how hypocritical we are aren't we ? I hope people remember how they criticized God on earth on judgement day. I watched this documentary about this guy who was an aethiest, he was in a hospital dying after an accident and during the time he was in a coma he said he experienced hell( while in a coma ) and he had been scared out of his wits that he converted to Christianity from being an aethiest. BTW the documentary was called " Gates Of Hell " you should look for it on you tube and watch it it is really interesting. as for why animals are allowed to be euthanized well that is because humans put little to no value on an animal's life.

diana malko
diana malko4 years ago

If it is stated by a persons doctor that they are termial and no chance of recovery then when they have reached all they can or want to handle.well then should be able to make up there own mind.

diana malko
diana malko4 years ago

If it is stated by a persons doctor that they are termial and no chance of recovery then when they have reached all they can or want to handle.well then should be able to make up there own mind.