British Columbia

Delta woman joins fight to overturn right-to-die limitations

A 68-year-old B.C. woman suffering from Parkinson's disease is the latest to challenge Canadian law restricting access to medically assisted dying.

Robyn Moro, 65, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease just months after her retirement

Robyn Moro is the latest person to join the BCCLA's legal fight to overturn restrictions preventing those whose deaths are not "reasonably foreseeable" from having medically assisted deaths. (CBC)

A 68-year-old Delta B.C. woman suffering from Parkinson's disease is the latest to challenge Canadian law restricting access to medically assisted dying.

On Tuesday Robyn Moro added her name to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association lawsuit challenging the requirement that a person's death must be "reasonably foreseeable" before he or she can have a medically assisted death.

The controversial requirement was part of new right-to-die legislation passed by the federal liberal government last June, after the BCCLA won a legal fight at the Supreme Court of Canada overturning laws preventing doctor-assisted dying.

The new law was almost immediately challenged by the BCCLA and Julia Lamb, a 25-year-old B.C. woman suffering from spinal muscular atrophy, who argued the new restrictions abandoned those who suffer from "grievous" — but not terminal — illnesses.

Julia Lamb, 25, of Chilliwack, B.C., has launched a lawsuit challenging the federal government's new assisted dying legislation. (CBC)

"This law deliberately leaves many Canadians trapped in intolerable suffering. As Canada's highest Court has already ruled, people suffering from a serious, irremediable illness should not be forced to wait to seek a compassionate death. It is clearly unconstitutional." said Caily DiPuma, the BCCLA's Acting Litigation Director.

Dreams shattered by Parkinson's

According to the BCCLA, Moro was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease just months after her retirement, shattering her dreams of an active retirement spent travelling the world with her husband. 

"Now, most of her days are spent in severe pain. Her body shakes constantly with tremors. She has chronic nausea and vomiting, muscle freezing, and exhaustion," said the organization in a statement issued on Tuesday morning.

"I have so much pain every day, and I know my Parkinson's will only continue to get worse. I know what my future holds and I don't want do endure it. I want to be able to die peacefully, with my family by my side. Although we love each other dearly, my husband and family don't want to see me suffer anymore. They support my choice. It's the law that is forcing me to suffer," she said in the statement.

Retired Delta B.C. business owner Robyn Moro says her dreams for travelling the world with her husband Len were destroyed by Parkinson's disease. (CBC)

Jay Aubrey, counsel for the BCCLA, said the existing laws place critically ill Canadians in an impossible position.

"People who experience horrific, irremediable suffering, but whose death is not yet reasonably foreseeable, are left with two choices — to continue to suffer intolerably against their will, or to turn to non-medical ways of ending their life, such as starvation and dehydration, said Audbrey in the statement.

"This is a cruel choice. Surely we have more compassion than to leave people to suffer and die in this way."

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