Gloria Taylor says she’ll know when it’s time to end her life.
Ms. Taylor on Friday became the only person in Canada legally permitted to commit suicide with the help of her doctor, after landmark ruling in B.C. Supreme Court. The judge declared unconstitutional Criminal Code provisions that prohibit physician-assisted suicide. The court suspended its ruling for one year, to give Parliament time to draft new legislation. But Ms. Taylor, a plaintiff in the case, was given a constitutional exemption to proceed with assisted suicide, provided she meets certain conditions.
Ms. Taylor, a 64-year-old divorced mother of two, was diagnosed in 2009 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. She uses a wheelchair for any travel that’s more than a short distance. As the disorder progresses, it will leave her unable to talk, chew and breathe.
Ms. Taylor filed an affidavit for the case last year. In it, she said there will be a time when she decides to end her life – but exactly when is unclear.
“There is no preset trigger moment,” the affidavit said. “I just know that, globally, there will be some point in time when I will be able to say, ‘This is it, this is the point where life is just not worthwhile.’ When that time comes, I want to be able to call my family together, tell them of my decision, say a dignified goodbye and obtain final closure – for me and for them.”
Ms. Taylor issued a statement Friday that said the court’s decision will allow her to approach her death in the same way she’s approached her life – with dignity, independence, and grace. She did not say anything further when reached at her home and is expected to speak at a news conference Monday.
In the affidavit, Ms. Taylor explained why she’s fighting for the right to end her life.
“I am dying,” she said. “I do not want to, but I am going to die; that is a fact. I can accept death because I recognize it as a part of life. What I fear is a death that negates, as opposed to concludes, my life.”
Ms. Taylor said she did not want to waste away in a hospital bed. She did want her 11-year-old granddaughter and the rest of her family’s final memories of her to be as she truly was – not who she became as a result of the disorder.
Ms. Taylor told the court she has prearranged her cremation and chosen music to play at the service.
Her affidavit even mentioned Sue Rodriguez, who in 1993 took her challenge to allow physician-assisted suicide to the Supreme Court of Canada and lost.
“As Sue Rodriguez asked before me – whose life is it anyway?”