A federal government lawyer has told the B.C. Court of Appeal that sick people who ponder assisted suicide are simply scared of suffering, even though they may be able to cope.

The submission was made yesterday by Crown lawyer Donnaree Nygard, as part of the federal government's appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down Canada's ban on assisted suicide.

Nygard says patients faced with a traumatic injury or a terminal disease often can't imagine how they'll be able to carry on but then are still able to find enjoyment in life.

Chief Justice Lance Finch asked Nygard whether life was more than a pulse or electrical activity in the brain.

Nygard responded by saying it's the ability to engage in or appreciate the full range of human experience.

The battle over doctor-assisted suicide moves into its second day in the B.C. Court of Appeal Tuesday, as the federal government continues a fight against a lower court order to rewrite laws governing the rights of terminally ill people to end their lives.

The top B.C. court is expected to hear the appeal over a week and will listen to submissions from groups that support and oppose doctor-assisted suicides.