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Woman, 77, with osteoarthritis approved for euthanasia in Canada

by Mia de Graaf, Daily Mail, 28 June 2017

Ms de Graaf reports on a Canadian court case in which ‘AB’, a 77-year old woman with osteoarthritis, asked for euthanasia.

Although Canada legalized assisted dying last year for people enduring unbearable suffering, two doctors refused to administer lethal drugs since they feared being charged with murder because her illness is not terminal.

But on Monday, a judge declared AB’s doctor could legally assist her in dying – and chided the doctors for ‘apprehensive misunderstanding’ of the law.

Superior Court Justice Paul Perell told the courtroom in Toronto that a patient’s death does not have to be imminent, and their condition does not have to be terminal.

Rather, he said, the patient qualifies for medically assisted dying if their death ‘has become reasonably foreseeable’, and that their remaining years would be marred by suffering.  

Andrew Faith, the lawyer who represented AB, acknowledged that ‘no one knows what it means’.

‘We are all on the trajectory towards death from the moment we’re born,’ he said. ‘But this is about how death has “become” reasonably foreseeable.’ 

Faith said he believes the phrase is likely unconstitutional, and a high profile case – Lamb vs Canada – is under way to decide whether or not it should be scrapped. 

For now, Faith said, he hopes the case will allow his client to be treated as she wishes, and set a precedent for other patients and doctors in similar legal conundrums.

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