Saskatchewan reacts to Supreme Court right-to-die decision

People in Saskatchewan are responding to the landmark right-to-die decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. Callers into CBC Radio's Blue Sky shared their stories.

CBC callers tell stories of losing loved ones

Lee Carter, left, and Grace Pastine, litigation director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, smile inside The Supreme Court of Canada, Friday morning, Feb. 6, 2015, in Ottawa, Ontario. Canada's highest court Friday, unanimously struck down a ban on doctor-assisted suicide for mentally competent patients with terminal illnesses. Carter and her husband accompanied her 89-year-old mother Kathleen (Kay) Carter, who suffered from spinal stenosis, to Switzerland in 2010 where assisted suicide is legal, to end her life. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

People in Saskatchewan are responding to the landmark right-to-die decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. 

On Friday, the court decided people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions should be able to ask a doctor to help them die. 

Nathan Anderson of Regina has mixed feelings about the ruling, after watching his father slowly die from multiple sclerosis. 

Anderson phoned CBC Radio's Blue Sky. He said there were many times in the emergency room, doctors told him this could be his father's last day.

"I said, 'It's okay, you can let go.' And he said, 'but this is worth fighting for." 

"I saw a man who touched my life deeply that wouldn't let go no matter how bad it got," Anderson added.

He says for about 10 years, his father couldn't communicate with the outside world. But his determination to hold onto whatever part of life he had was inspiring. Still Anderson says, he doesn't think he himself could endure that kind of pain for so long.

Life is precious but suffering is not any good either.- Patty Shalapata, Nokomis

Dr. Subhir Suryavanshi of Saskatoon said he supports the decision. He said a lot of discussion between doctors and patients and their families has to happen.

"You have to be really sure that a patient whose asking for this big thing is with it."

"Once you explain those things it becomes our duty to make sure that what happens next is good for everyone," he said. 

Patty Shalapata of Nokomis also phoned Blue Sky. She says beyond this ruling, people need to think about do-not-resuscitate orders. Her sister died last year and her wish was not to be resuscitated. Shalapata said it was hard, but people need to talk about it. 

Of today's decision, she said, "Life is precious but suffering is not any good either."


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