'Allow me to die with dignity,' woman pleads
Published Tuesday, June 28, 2011 3:24PM PDT
A B.C. woman dying from Lou Gehrig's disease is asking to add her name to a lawsuit seeking the right to commit doctor-assisted suicide.
Westbank resident Gloria Taylor, 63, filed an application Tuesday to be recognized as a plaintiff in a suit that would change the Criminal Code to allow mentally competent adults with incurable diseases the right to seek medical help to end their lives.
"I am dying, piece by piece, and I am asking the mercy of the court to allow me to die with dignity," she told reporters at a press conference in Vancouver.
"I don't understand how the law allows me to commit suicide in any number of horrendous ways, and yet it is illegal for someone to help me to die at peace without pain in the comfort of my home with my family and friends."
Taylor was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in late 2009. She learned that the disease would gradually leave her paralyzed and in constant pain, and that she would likely die within a year.
"It was the most devastating day of my life," she said of the day she was diagnosed. "I sat alone in the hospital parking lot, unable to move from the shock of this diagnosis. I couldn't even cry as I sat there, numb, trying to fathom what I had been told."
She says that while she is lucky to still be alive, she lives in constant fear of becoming incontinent in public and dreads the inevitable day when she will be confined to a hospital bed, getting her nutrients through a feeding tube.
"It is cruel and inhumane to force me to suffer a long, prolonged death," Taylor said. "It is my life, my body, and it should be my choice."
The BC Civil Liberties Association lawsuit was filed in April on behalf of Lee Carter and her husband Hollis Johnson, Fort Langley residents who travelled with Carter's 89-year-old mother Kay to Switzerland last year to help her end her life. Assisted suicide is legal in the European country.
The couple says they are pleased that Taylor wants to add her voice to the fight.
"This is a very feisty woman full of life, and she just reminds me of Kay in so many ways," Johnson said.
He says he hopes that adding Taylor's name to the suit will add a sense of urgency and speed the case through the court.
Joseph Arvay, the lead lawyer for Carter and Johnson, says that he hopes the suit will reach the trial phase by November.
Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in several European countries and the American states Washington, Oregon and Montana.
But opponents of euthanasia say they fear legalizing the practice will make elderly and disabled people vulnerable to abuse by family and friends who might pressure them to end their lives.