For the first time in this province, the Ontario Superior Court has granted an elderly man a doctor-assisted death.
A judge ruled to allow the man to die from lethal injection in his own home. The judge has also agreed that the mans body will not be given to the coroner for an autopsy, a point that was heavily contested by the applicant, stating it was “absurd and distressing.”
According to Ontario law, individuals bodies that suffered a non-natural death are to be delivered to the coroner for an examination. Instead, the death will be classified under “by disease.”
The 80-year old man, identified only as A.B., has been in severe pain due to lymphoma. He was diagnosed in 2012.
According to his family, A.B. would like to end his life by this weekend, as his condition is getting worse.
“I am suffering intolerable pain and distress that cannot be eliminated,” A.B. said in an affidavit.
In other affidavits, his wife and daughter supported the decision to end his life. The rest of A.B.’s family, doctor and psychiatrist also support his decision.
“It is crippling emotionally to see someone you love in so much pain and distress,” A.B.’s daughter said in her affidavit.
Under Ontario law, it is still a crime to help someone end his or her own life. This is the second case this month in which a person has been granted permission for a doctor-assisted death. The first was a woman in Calgary who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. She ended her life with the help of two physicians on March 1. Both cases were the first to be successful in each province.
Quebec is the only province in the country where doctor-assisted deaths are legal.
A.B. has asked to keep his identity as well as those of his family to be kept private to avoid unwanted attention.
“Such attention would be detrimental to my wish to die with dignity, privately, in the company of my family,” he said.