Canadian Says Suicide |Law Isn’t Enough

     VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) — A woman with a fatal degenerative disease and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association have taken the Canadian government to court, claiming the country’s new laws allowing physician-assisted suicide are too restrictive and unconstitutional.
     Julia Lamb and BCCLA sued the Attorney General of Canada on Monday in British Columbia Supreme Court. In a notice of civil claim, they ask the court to strike portions of the Criminal Code of Canada which were recently amended to allow doctors to offer assisted dying services to those with incurable illnesses, when their “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable.”
     Lamb, 25, has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic degenerative condition that has progressed to the point that “she feels a shadow looming over her” as her health, mobility, and independence have declined. She’s broken bones after falling from her wheelchair, and her lung capacity has decreased to 30 percent, stoking fears that a “mild cold” could weaken her even further.
     “Julia wants the peace of mind of knowing that provided she is fully informed and clearly consents to it, she has the right to be able, should her medical condition bring her to the point of enduring and intolerable suffering, to seeking medical assistance in dying,” the claim states. “The fact that the impugned laws may not allow Julia to have access to medical assistance in dying should her symptoms develop in such a way as to cause her intolerable suffering causes Julia great stress and deprives her of peace of mind.”
     While the Supreme Court of Canada forced the government’s hand to change the laws on assisted suicide after a challenge by patients and civil liberties groups, Lamb says the law doesn’t go far enough to protect her and others in similar conditions, when their disease is progressive and symptomatic, though it is impossible to predict when their impending natural death may come.
     She seeks declaratory judgment that the “impugned laws” unjustifiably infringe upon rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.
     She is represented by Joseph Arvay with Farris, Vaughan, Wills, & Murphy, in Vancouver.

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