A Westbank woman has joined a lawsuit aimed at giving Canadians the right to physician-assisted suicide.
Gloria Taylor, 63, was diagnosed with ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, 18 months ago.
Taylor said as a long-time believer in an individual’s right to decide when to end their life, she wanted to be part of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s challenge to Canada’s assisted suicide law.
“I will die with dignity,” vowed Taylor, whose condition is terminal. “When we win (the legal challenge), all Canadians will have the right to die with dignity if they are terminally ill.”
Taylor said she considered launching her own legal challenge last year but did not know where to start. So, when she heard about the BCCLA lawsuit, launched in April, she wanted to be named as a plaintiff in that case.
On Tuesday, she petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court to have her name added to the lawsuit.
Taylor said her condition has been deteriorating and at a news conference in Vancouver Tuesday, said her doctors have said she has a year left to live.
Despite her condition, she has a walker, as well as a motorized wheelchair, and tries to walk a little every day, refusing to allow her condition to rob her of her remaining mobility. She said she has lost the use of her hands but overall is doing as well as a person with ALS can expect. “I thank God for every day I have left,” she told the Capital News.
Despite the pain she faces all the time, Taylor said she is determined to help others win the right to die with dignity. And she is doing so with another well-known Canadian right-to-die advocate in mind.
Eighteen years ago Victoria’s Sue Rodriquez, another ALS sufferer, unsuccessfully petitioned Canada’s Supreme Court for the right to a physician-assisted suicide. The court ruled against Rodriguez’s request by a slim 5-4 margin. Four months later Rodriguez died at her home with the help of an anonymous physician. No one was ever charged in her death.
Taylor said she is carrying the torch lit by the Victoria woman. “In my mind, Sue Rodriquez was a hero,” said Taylor. “Eighteen years ago it was defeated by just one vote (the 5-4 ruling). This time we are going to win.”
The case is currently before the B.C. Supreme Court and if denied, it would have to go to the B.C. Court of Appeals before a possible return to the Supreme Court of Canada. Taylor said she hopes the case does not have to go that far. But if it does, she is prepared.
“I have a plan B,” she said about her plans to end her life on her terms.