Gloria Taylor, the 64-year-old West Kelowna woman with ALS who fought to change Canada’s law on assisted suicide, died Thursday.
Taylor was the lead plaintiff in the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s death with dignity lawsuit. Her dream of legal change for herself and all Canadians was realized in June when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the right to die with dignity is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The court also granted Taylor a personal exemption, allowing her the right to seek a physician-assisted death.
Taylor’s death was sudden and unexpected. The cause of death was a severe infection resulting from a perforated colon. Due to the acute nature and brief course of her illness from the infection, Taylor did not need to seek the assistance of a physician to end her life.
According to a release by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the death was quick and peaceful. She died in hospital, surrounded by friends and family members.
The federal government appealed the B.C. Supreme Court decision and a hearing before the B.C. Court of Appeal is scheduled for March, 2013. The BCCLA will carry on with the case along with the remaining individual plaintiffs.
“Gloria was a heroic woman. Even as her body failed her, she fought for all Canadians to have choice and dignity at the end of life,” said Grace Pastine, litigation director for the BCCLA.
“Gloria was terrified that she would become trapped in her body as her ALS progressed and she was incensed that other Canadians with serious illnesses were facing the same cruel predicament.
“She spent the last of her life tirelessly advocating to change the law.”
Pastine said the BCCLA will continue with the lawsuit, fighting to protect Taylor’s victory against government appeals.
“Gloria lit the torch, now we will carry it.”
Anne Fomenoff, Taylor’s mother, said Gloria will be dearly missed by her family and friends.
“We are grateful that Gloria was given the solace of knowing that she had a choice about how and when she would die,” said Fomenoff.
“Until the moment she died, Gloria firmly believed that all Canadians should have choice in dying, and we, her family, completely supported her in that belief.
“I speak on behalf of my entire family when I say we are so proud of her legacy.”