‘Cel­e­bra­tion of life’

As­sisted-dy­ing ac­tivist re­mem­bered in Hal­i­fax

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered Fri­day af­ter­noon to re­mem­ber a ter­mi­nally ill Hal­i­fax woman whose fight to loosen as­sisted dy­ing laws cap­tured na­tional at­ten­tion.

A “cel­e­bra­tion of life” was be­ing held for Au­drey Parker at Pier 21 on the city’s water­front, with more than 300 peo­ple in at­ten­dance.

Parker ended her life with a doc­tor’s as­sis­tance on Nov. 1, but said un­der amended leg­is­la­tion she might have lived for weeks longer.

Di­ag­nosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2016, the 57-year-old woman had been ap­proved for an as­sisted death.

She used her heart­break­ing case to plead with law­mak­ers, stress­ing the law had to be changed be­cause it de­mands peo­ple ap­proved for a med­i­cally as­sisted death must be con­scious and men­tally sound at the mo­ment they grant their fi­nal con­sent for a lethal in­jec­tion.

Fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters have said they feel strong sym­pa­thy to­wards Parker and her fam­ily, but they re­main con­fi­dent in the fed­eral leg­is­la­tion.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould has said Ot­tawa feels the two-year-old leg­is­la­tion strikes the ap­pro­pri­ate bal­ance be­tween the pro­tec­tion of peo­ple’s au­ton­omy and safe­guards for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

The is­sue will be among those con­sid­ered in a re­port be­ing drafted by a panel of ex­perts, which is due by the end of the year but is not ex­pected to make rec­om­men­da­tions.

Parker was given a lethal in­jec­tion and died peace­fully in her Hal­i­fax apart­ment, sur­rounded by close friends and fam­ily.

Hi­lary Young, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of law at the Univer­sity of New Brunswick, said one area where Parker’s death may re­main sig­nif­i­cant is in the dis­cus­sion of whether law­mak­ers will have to make distinctions be­tween dis­eases in terms of when ad­vance direc­tives are per­mit­ted.

She said she per­son­ally agrees with Parker’s ar­gu­ment that when doc­tors have as­sessed and ap­proved a med­i­cally as­sisted death like hers, it could be left to her writ­ten in­struc­tions or a sub­sti­tute de­ci­sion maker as to when it oc­curs.

How­ever, she said that may be less ap­pli­ca­ble to peo­ple with de­men­tia, or in some other in­stances.

“I think Au­drey Parker’s case has brought to light the dis­tinc­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent kinds of ad­vance direc­tives. Most of the trou­bling is­sues re­late to sit­u­a­tions like de­men­tia or sit­u­a­tions where it’s made far in ad­vance,” she said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

She said when a pa­tient has a griev­ous and ir­re­me­di­a­ble con­di­tion and is suf­fer­ing in a way that’s in­tol­er­a­ble to her, and a death is rea­son­ably fore­see­able, there are strong ar­gu­ments for ad­vance re­quests in cases like Parker’s.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.