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Rodriguez chooses suicide

"Whose body is this?" With those four words Sue Rodriguez single-handedly catapulted the right-to-die debate onto the public stage. After being diagnosed with the terminal disease ALS in 1991, Rodriguez took her fight all the way to the highest court in the land. She failed to get euthanasia and assisted suicide legalized in Canada. But Rodriguez's battle and her death in 1994 forced a crucial debate on this controversial topic.

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In the end Sue Rodriguez defied the law by choosing the time and the method of her death. As shown in this CBC Television report, it was something she had been planning for awhile. "Have you set a date?" asks CBC producer Sharon Bartlett. "I have set a date, yes," replies Rodriguez in her last interview. That date was Feb. 12, 1994.

Federal NDP MP and friend Svend Robinson, who was by Rodriguez's side, breaks down as he remembers her "dignity and courage" during those final moments. Robinson confirms that he and an unnamed doctor were the only two present at the time of Rodriguez's death. 
. CBC producer Sharon Bartlett, who was filming a documentary for CBC's Witness, said Rodriguez told her off-camera that this would be the last time they would meet. It was later found out in coroner Dianne Olson's report that Rodriguez had decided in mid-January of 1994 that she wanted to die on Feb. 12, 1994.

. A coroner report confirmed that Sue Rodriguez killed herself by drinking liquid laced with morphine and the sedative Seconal. Coroner Dianne Olson wrote in her report that Rodriguez sipped the prepared liquid through a straw.
. No charges were ever laid against the unnamed doctor or Svend Robinson.
Medium: Television
Program: Witness
Broadcast Date: Feb. 21, 1994
Guest(s): Svend Robinson, Sue Rodriguez
Producer: Sharon Bartlett
Reporter: Jerry Thompson
Duration: 2:55

Last updated: January 30, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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