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Family of late West Kelowna woman continuing fight for doctor assisted suicide

The mother of a late West Kelowna woman who was the first Canadian to win the right to doctor assisted suicide says her daughter is with her every step of the way and she is committed to continuing the fight that Gloria Taylor was waging when she passed away.

Anne Fomenoff spoke about her daughter Gloria at a press conference held on Monday by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association as the association begins its landmark journey to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will hear arguments on doctor assisted suicide for the first time in 20 years in October.

"I am so proud of my daughter and we are continuing the struggle for compassion and choice in Gloria's name," said Fomenoff at press conference in Vancouver. "I feel that Gloria is here with me every day. I am sure she is sitting at this table. I can hear her encouraging me and saying 'go for it mom.'"

The BC Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Criminal Code of Canada provisions against assisted dying were unconstitutional. The federal government then appealed and the BC Court of Appeal overturned the lower court’s ruling in late 2013.

The BC Civil Liberties Association then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada which will hear oral arguments in the case beginning October 14, 2014.

Fomenoff says her daughter believed in Canadians right to choice.

"She fought a courageous battle," said Fomenoff. "She believed all Canadians had the right to die peacefully. She wanted to die on her own terms. She did not want to die inch by inch suffering in her own body."

Taylor suffered from ALS but died suddenly at the age of 64 from an infection. Jason Taylor of Kelowna, Gloria’s eldest son, also spoke at Monday's press conference.

“This case is about choice," he said. "My mother strongly believed that all Canadians should have the right to decide how much suffering to endure at the end of life, based on their own values and beliefs. It doesn’t make any sense that it’s legal to commit suicide, or to ask a doctor to disconnect a ventilator, but it’s a crime for a doctor to help someone like my mother to die at peace, without suffering, surrounded by the comfort of family and friends.”

It has been twenty years since Canada’s highest court looked at the issue of doctor assisted suicide, when it heard the Sue Rodriguez case, and dismissed a challenge to the law in a 5-4 decision.

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