Saturday 24 February 2018

Irish case follows Canadian battle

Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

THE spirit of Gloria Taylor descended like a dove on Marie Fleming's landmark legal battle.

Yesterday, judges were told by Ms Fleming's lawyer that Gloria Taylor, the Canadian advocate for medically assisted suicide, had passed away.

Ms Taylor, who had Lou Gehrig's disease, was among a group of plaintiffs in a landmark death-with-dignity case that saw Canada's ban on doctor-assisted suicide struck down as unconstitutional.

Ms Taylor, who wanted a doctor to help her die at a time of her own choosing, died in October from a severe infection, months after she won the right to die. Heavy reliance has been placed by Ms Fleming's legal team on the similar challenge to laws criminalising assisted suicide advanced by Ms Taylor and others in Canada.

Earlier this year, the British Columbia (BC) Supreme Court declared the ban on physician-assisted suicide unconstitutional, giving the government a year to rewrite the law.

The ban was described by the BC court as discriminatory, disproportionate and overbroad. The Canadian government has appealed the ruling, which will be heard next spring.

It is expected to argue that allowing any form of assisted suicide creates the possibility that people with disabilities, the elderly and the terminally-ill could be coerced to end their lives or do so in moments of depression and despair, even if better days may be ahead.

It is that risk of abuse and the fear that the vulnerable may choose assisted suicide in moments of weakness which forms the basis of the Irish Government's defence of Marie Fleming's challenge to our assisted suicide ban.

Irish Independent

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