Julia Lamb of Chilliwack (BC Civil Liberties Association)

Judge rules against young woman’s bid to speed up assisted dying trial

BC Civil Liberties Association bid rejected but advocates confident in final success

Julia Lamb of Chilliwack suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and has been confined to a wheelchair since age six.

Despite that, she is a remarkable young woman at 26 who said she has led a good life.

But she can’t ignore the progression of her disease and is left wondering if elements of Canada’s new assisted-dying law will be a roadblock to her making a final decision down the road if her pain becomes too much.

Last year the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed a constitutional challenge on behalf of Lamb and Robyn Moro, 68, a Delta woman suffering from Parkinson’s disease, to strike down an element of Bill C-14, which requires individuals to be near a “reasonably foreseeable death” to qualify for medically assisted dying.

Moro died on Aug. 31 with the assistance of a doctor, leaving Lamb as the sole plaintiff.

But on Wednesday, the B.C. Supreme Court decided against the BCCLA’s request to stop the federal government from essentially re-arguing important elements already decided by the court in Carter v. Canada.

“The downside of this decision is that the trial of our case may take longer,” said BCCLA’s acting litigation director Caily DiPuma in a statement issued Oct. 11. “And that means that more people will spend more time trapped in intolerable suffering under a law that unjustly restricts access to medically assisted death.”

The decision Wednesday, however, only lengthens a case the BCCLA was hoping to speed up.

“We succeeded in defeating the government’s arguments in the Carter case and we will succeed in defeating them the second time around,” DiPuma said.

BCCLA’s landmark Carter decision moved the government to introduce Bill C- 14, the assisted dying act. Flaws in that led to Lamb and the BCCLA challenging the constitutionality of the requirement that death be “reasonably forseeable.”

“Many critically ill Canadians are suffering unbearably as they wait for yet another trial of Canada’s assisted dying laws,” BCCLA counsel Jay Aubrey said. “The only reason we are having this trial is that Canada’s government enacted a law that is unjustly restrictive and cruel.”

The BCCLA launched Lamb v. Canada and Lamb herself addressed a press conference in June 2016 to talk about the court challenge, and to talk about her personal experiences with spinal muscular atrophy.

“I live a great life and I’m very happy. And I do not want to die right now,” she said, adding that she wants options down the road.

“I am terrified that I could be trapped in a state of physical and mental suffering that could last for months, years or even decades. Having to think about this future causes me immense physical distress.”

Not everyone is on board with the BCCLA’s fight and the right-to-die movement. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities says the conversation around end-of-life practices ignores the point of view of disability rights advocates.

The organization created a campaign against euthanasia, Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ex-Nanaimo man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Abbotsford music festival

James Allen Redden, 50, found guilty of three charges

Mission to invest $850,000 into local parks

New play structures, tennis court and other improvements on the way

One in custody after dramatic Abbotsford vehicle theft ends with rollover in Chilliwack

Prolific offender Michael Joseph Hasell facing numerous charges

Fraser Health launches new drug-use support team to curb overdoses

Nearly 200 people have been killed by illicit drug overdoses in the region so far in 2018

Mission Folk Music Festival opens with a community night

On Friday, July 20, admission to the event is Pay-What-You-Can

Stolen sunshade puts damper on Lower Mainland woman’s pet-relief effort

Broken umbrella taken from White Rock lawn ‘within 10 minutes’

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Teen killed by train remembered for his love

Friends and family share stories of young Crescent Beach train victim

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

Most Read