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Good morning. Mark Iype and Wendy Cox are both away, so it’s James Keller here, The Globe’s national editor and former Alberta Bureau Chief.

A Calgary judge has been weighing a high-profile legal dispute about an intensely private issue: medical assistance in dying, or MAID, and the rights of family members to have a role in the decision to access it.

The case involves a 27-year-old woman who sought, and received, approval for MAID. Her father asked the courts to intervene because, he says, his daughter is ineligible and unable to consent. Earlier this year, a judge delayed her assisted death.

This week, Justice Colin Feasby of Alberta’s Court of King’s Bench ruled in favour of the woman, concluding that she should have the autonomy to access MAID over her father’s objections. But the ruling was put on hold for 30 days to allow a possible appeal.

The names of the woman, known in court documents as M.V, and her father, referred to as W.V., are both covered by a publication ban, as is the woman’s medical history.

The case is the latest in a string of court challenges that have wrestled with the question of what role, if any, family members have when a person chooses to access MAID. The father’s lawyers argued that Alberta has a “legislative” vacuum with no process to review MAID approvals, leaving the courts as the only venue to deal with such disputes.

The woman in the Alberta case has not disclosed to the court what medical condition she has that led two doctors to conclude she is eligible for MAID. Nor has she told her father.

M.V. is autistic and her father told the court he believes she has undiagnosed mental illnesses. The woman lives with her parents and has never had a steady job. Her father told the court she has a history of “doctor shopping” for physicians to diagnose her with medical conditions. One of the first two doctors she consulted for MAID rejected her application and she found a third who broke the tie.

Justice Feasby concluded that the harm of infringing on the woman’s autonomy and dignity outweigh the pain that her death would cause her father.

“The harm to M.V. if an injunction is granted goes to the core of her being. An injunction would deny M.V. the right to choose between living or dying with dignity,” the judge wrote.

“Further, an injunction would put M.V. in a position where she would be forced to choose between living a life she has decided is intolerable and ending her life without medical assistance. This is a terrible choice that should not be forced on M.V., as attempting to end her life without medical assistance would put her at increased risk of pain, suffering, and lasting injury.”

Under the current law, capable adults may receive an assisted death if they have an irremediable physical condition causing intolerable suffering that can’t be relieved with care acceptable to the patient. Their death does not need to be “reasonably foreseeable.”

They may have a history of mental illness, but they are only eligible for their physical condition, and the federal government has put on hold plans to expand the law to include mental illness.

Lawyers for the woman and her father declined to comment on the court ruling.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief Mark Iype. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.

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