Manitoban granted right to die with help from doctors
Manitoban suffering from 2 conditions granted exemption
A Manitoban has been granted the right to die with help from doctors, the first time it has happened in the province.
Chief Justice Glenn Joyal awarded the patient an exemption that will allow physicians to help end the patient's life.
The patient wishes to remain anonymous, so gender and condition is not being disclosed for privacy reasons.
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The patient's attorney John Myers said his client was in "enduring and intolerable pain" and had less than one month to live due to two conditions.
Myers also told Joyal the patient is fully informed, not depressed and has the mental capacity to make a clear decision.
In 2015, Canada's highest court ruled people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions should be able to access a doctor-assisted death.
Now, the federal government is drafting legislation to deal with the ruling, which is due on June 6, 2016.
In the meantime, patients can apply for physician-assisted death exemptions to allow them to access it earlier.
Earlier this month, a Calgary woman was granted such an exemption, and in Toronto, a court case on another exemption is currently underway.
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No one opposed Joyal's request for a Charter application, but the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority did appear to request a publication ban on details about the physicians who will carry out the procedure.
The health authority was concerned revealing the physicians' and other health care providers' identities could hurt their relationships with other patients.
Testimony took much of the day on Tuesday, and in the afternoon, Joyal took less than an hour to rule in favour of an exemption that would allow the patient to access a physician-assisted death.
Joyal also ruled in favour of publication bans to protect the identities of the patient as well as the physicians and other health care providers involved.
He said the court was satisfied the patient was competent, over 18 years of age and could consent to ending their life.
Joyal will release a report outlining his reasons for the ruling later this week.
The following statements were provided to the media:
Statement from the patient
"I believe that an integral aspect of a person's right to die with dignity includes the opportunity to have a physician assisted death. My decision to seek a physician assisted death is borne out of the physical pain I am suffering and the intolerable effects of my diseases on my overall quality of life. I want a physician assisted death and I am completely at ease with this decision.
My family is the most important and fulfilling part of my life. While it has been sad to say good-bye and to plan to leave my family, I am not feeling anxious, depressed or in fear of death.
I wish to spend the remaining days of my life in the privacy and company of my family. It is important to me that neither myself nor my family is subjected to the public attention that might follow if my name or other identifying features of my experience is released to the public. Any attention would be detrimental to my wish to die with dignity, privately and in the company of my family."
Statement from the patient's spouse
"As the spouse, I recognize it takes great courage to elect a physician assisted death as one's end-of-life medical treatment. I and my family deeply appreciate that the decision of my spouse will also help to relieve our emotional burden, having watched my spouse suffer enormous pain and watched as their quality of life rapidly deteriorated.
I understand my spouse's wishes to seek out a physician-assisted death and I fully and wholeheartedly support those wishes to exercise the constitutional right to die with dignity.
I believe that any attention would be detrimental to my spouse's wish to die with dignity, privately and in the company of family."