B.C. Woman Asks for Right to Assisted Suicide


If Gloria Taylor has her way, Canadians may soon be able to choose doctor-assisted suicide rather than a prolonged and agonizing death. The Kelowna, British Columbia woman is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. She is gradually losing her ability to walk, use her hands, swallow and even breathe.

In a CBC interview on June 29, 2011, Ms. Taylor talked about her decision to join the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s suit challenging laws that criminalize assisted suicide. She has discussed her wishes with her family. Having watched Ms. Taylor’s slow, inexorable decline, they support her decision to request the option to legally commit suicide. She said, “No one in my family wants to see me suffer….I have the blessings of my family and all my closest friends.”

Grace Pastine, Litigation Director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the group is asking for the right for “mentally competent adults who are suffering from serious and incurable illnesses the right to receive medical assistance to hasten death under certain specific safeguards.” She said Canadians are overwhelmingly in favor of assisted suicide and that in places where it is allowed, the right is not abused because of the requirements in place.

Case to receive a speedy hearing

On August 3, 2011, the B.C. Supreme Court agreed to speed up the hearing because of Ms. Taylor’s condition. Instead of spring 2012, the case will be heard starting this November 15th.

In discussing the issue, Dr. Brian Goldman referred to the Senate report on the future of palliative care in Canada. “[T]he Honourable Sharon Carstairs wrote that currently, 90% of Canadians could benefit from palliative care, but 70% do not have access. If we can’t handle a trickle of patients today, you’d have to be an extraordinary optimist to believe we’ll be able to provide palliative care to a tsunami of people with neurodegenerative diseases in the decades to come.”

Physician-assisted suicide is legal in parts of the world, including Washington and Oregon in the U.S. and The Netherlands and Belgium. Whether or not it should become legal in Canada will be the subject for considerable debate in the months to come.

Related Care2 Stories

Swiss Voters Overwhelmingly Support Assisted Suicide

Dignity and Compassion in Assisted Suicide

Photo credit: Gloria Taylor in undated handout


Huber F.
Huber F5 years ago

This is mayhem at its worst..


Mary B.
Mary B6 years ago

Juanita G. If you think you have the 'right' to decide for others what they must do or believe, then we have the right to instruct you as well. Put a sock in it about the Jesus stuff.Many do not buy your religion, and if you end up on life support, I say pull the plug.

Grace Adams
Grace A6 years ago

I favor allowing assisted suicide for those already known to be terminally ill, and for those so disabled they will never be able to earn a living or take care of themselves or enjoy life. For those who are capable of doing useful work but so thoroughly embarrassed that they want to die, suicide is a failure to live up to responsibilities owed to others.

Britin J.
Past Member 6 years ago

Dianne R: You have such a valid point, I agree with you! I want to offer my condolences for the passing of your partner without the desire to offend. Bright Blessings to you!
My partner and I just completed our wills, health care directives and living will paperwork and we have talked candidly with all our family about what we want. Unfortunately our state does not offer assisted suicide, so that option is out, but we can and will keep doctors and distraught family members from dragging out a terminal situation.

This whole situation is about quality of life not quantity, lets leave it up to the individual.

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson6 years ago

Perhaps insurance policies should pay out when you are dignosed with an incurable condition.My husband died of Cystic Fibrosis last summer at age 56. He dealt with the symptoms ALL his life. He had SEVERAL 5 MONTH hospital stays over the years.He always kept fighting and always recovered ( from pneumonia) UNTIL last spring.He was in the hospital and on and off the ventilator from January through May.Finally he wrote me a note( He couldn't speak because of his trach--a hole in his neck where the vent can attach)" I just can't keep on struggling for each breath."God and I BOTH knew him.He stopped breathing the next night. I was with him and did NOT allow CPR (YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE! ) I miss him terribly but He KNEW it was time to go. I believe we DO KNOW when the time comes AND I believe our life is OURS. The time will come when COMPETENT people with a fatal illness will have the choice to die. UNTIL THEN,PLEASE KNOW that YOU CAN REQUEST COMFORT CARE ONLY. HOSPICE provides comfort care but does NOTHING to PROLONG your life( if that is your wish.) LIVING WILLS or HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES allow you to "speak your wishes" even when you can't speak.SEEK YOUR OPTIONS, NOW, before you need to use them.AND TALK WITH YOUR FAMILY so they can support your wishes when the time comes. Your Doctor will be MUCH more comfortable if he KNOWS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY are in agreement. Doctors reasonably fear a court fight with a distraught daughter. Dont put him in that position.

Joy Looney
Joy Looney6 years ago

I'm glad to see the 95% answering yes or leaning that way. If it happened to you, you would certainly have a different opinion. I hope they let her. The only problem I have is that many life insurance companies will not pay out the policy for someone that commits "suicide". I think that in cases like these they should have too.

Flannel Disaster
Flannel Disaster6 years ago

No one has a right to tell others they don't have a right to do something based on religion.

Alessia C.
Alessia C.6 years ago

no one has right to suicide its no human do this kind of things , so sad for this kind of ideas in your country

Flannel Disaster
Flannel Disaster6 years ago

Um.. no idea why my previous comment was deleted.
Part of it was even quoted.
Maybe somebody could enlighten me.

Anyway, obviously EVERYONE has a right to suicide or to do anything else they want to with or to their own body, for whatever reason they choose.
If I want to smoke crack while getting my eyeballs tattooed as I listen to Justin Beiber, that's my right, and if I want to kill myself just because I'm bored or my hair won't behave, that's my right too, and anybody who thinks otherwise needs to step the f off and wisen up.

If Juanita and other religious folks want to believe that THEY don't have a right to suicide, or being gay, or eating meat on certain days or whatever, that's their right to limit themselves in by such beliefs, but their beliefs are irrelevant to the rest of the universe.

Mary L.
Mary L6 years ago

Junita G. You have made your choice and I respect it. However you are condemming everyone to YOUR choice. That's slavery and imprisonment.

If you've ever read anything about neurodegenerative diseases you might think twice. If you haven't please read and then go to the nearest hospice and volunteer. Then think about this, the right wing wants to shut down social security, medicare and medicaid. What will you do with all the people who cannot live and cannot die because YOU decided to play god.

You believe that this woman is suffering for sin and possibly not even her own? Please don't tell me your god is a loving god. A parent who wants what's good and right for their children. You can't have both it's one or the other.

My Goddess and God are more merciful than yours. I thank them for that frequently.