The issue of doctor-assisted death is igniting polarizing debates in Toronto, pitting the right to life against the right to choose.
It started with a Toronto man, who is terminally ill with lymphoma, asking a judge for a doctor-assisted death. Aside from Quebec, doctor-assisted dying is still in its early stages in Canada.
Earlier this week, a Calgary woman suffering Lou Gehrig’s disease had received legal exemption and ended her life with the help of two doctors. She is believed to be the first Canadian outside of Quebec to have committed legal dying.
Recently, the Catholic Archbishop of Toronto released a statement expressing shock.
“Once we make people’s worthiness to live dependent on how well they function, our society has crossed the boundary into dangerous territory in which people are treated as objects that can be discarded as useless,” Cardinal Thomas Collins said.
If granted, this would be the first case in Ontario. The man can only be identified as A.B. due to a court-order that protects his identity. In his court affidavit, A.B. seeks to have his identity protected to avoid any unwanted attention.
Dying with Dignity Canada’s communications co-ordinator Cory Ruf told the Toronto Observer that they “take exception to the suggestion that our cause/movement is devaluing anybody’s life. We by no means would ever suggest that any individual going through any suffering, whether it be physical or psychological, that their life would be any less valuable than anybody else’s.”
Dying with Dignity believes that any individual should have autonomy and their own choice “in the face of horrific suffering.”
“Our point of view is that this is actually recognizing their agency and autonomy as individuals, and not taking it away,” Ruf said.
Canada’s highest court in January granted constitutional exemption for individuals who make an application in Superior Court for doctor-assisted dying, if they are found to have met the criteria until new legislation is made in June.