Gloria Taylor has defended her right to a constitutional exemption!
The BC Court of Appeal has denied the Attorney General of Canada’s attempt to prevent Gloria Taylor from exercising her court-approved right to die.
Gloria Taylor, who is terminally ill, received in June a constitutional exemption allowing her to receive a lethal prescription, under very stringent conditions. At the same time, BC Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith also ruled that Canada’s law banning assisted suicide was unconstitutional and she gave parliament 12 months to fashion a new law. Since Ms Taylor was unlikely to live to benefit from any change in the law, Justice Smith afforded her an interim remedy to receive a doctor’s assistance.
The Attorney General of Canada is appealing Madam Justice Smith’s declaration that the Criminal Code provisions banning assisted suicide are constitutionally invalid. That appeal is tentatively scheduled for five days commencing March 4, 2013. Farewell Foundation will apply to intervene in the appeal and support the plaintiffs.
Last week, lawyers for the AG Canada and Gloria Taylor appeared before Court of Appeal Justice Jo-Ann Prowse. The AG sought a stay of proceeding to stop the constitutional exemption provided to Ms Taylor by the lower court.
The AG argued that Justice Smith erred in three ways. First, the AG said the benefit or remedy for Ms Taylor was not available to others, and therefore was unequal and unconstitutional. Second, the AG said Justice Smith had usurped the role of Parliament by drafting exceptions to the law and had done so in a way that the AG Canada could not play a future role. Third, Justice Smith created procedures for Ms Taylor that, if she met them, would require a judge to order that she could be exempt from the law. The AG argued that this prevented a judge from using discretion in hearing any future application made by Ms Taylor.
Today, Justice Jo-Ann Prowse ruled against the AG’s application. She said that while there is “no doubt that Parliament is charged with the duty of promoting and protecting the public interest and that the assisted suicide provisions of the Code were designed to protect the public” allowing an exception for Ms Taylor would not result in “irreparable harm.” She said that Gloria Taylor had “fought so courageously” to assert her right to end her life and that that she should not be required to “sacrifice her right to a concept of the ‘greater good.’”
Justice Prowse accepted the submission by Taylor’s lawyers that if the constitutional exemption were stayed, she would suffer irreparable harm in two ways. First, “all of her worst fears would be realized and she would be forced to endure the very death which she has fought so assiduously to avoid.” Second, Taylor would be harmed by “the loss of the peace of mind and solace now available to her as a result of the exemption, in knowing that if living becomes unbearable to her for any of the reasons she has given, she can bring her life to an end,” in accordance with the court-ordered requirements.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, lawyer Sheila Tucker confirmed that Gloria Taylor had not taken any formal steps for her exemption. Tucker said Taylor would be “delighted” with the decision. We’re particularly pleased with the fact that the court was very cognizant of the fact that, for Gloria, it really is a case of irreparable harm.”
Justice Prowse’s decision can be accessed at this link: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/12/03/2012BCCA0336.htm