Audrey Parker, diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer which had metastasized to her bones and has a tumour on her brain, talks about life and death at her home in Halifax on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

No changes planned to assisted-death law, Ottawa says after dying woman’s plea

A non-profit group that advocates for the rights of dying Canadians says a Nova Scotia woman has “changed the national conversation” about medically assisted deaths in Canada

Ottawa remains confident in its assisted dying legislation, and doesn’t plan changes despite a Halifax woman’s deathbed plea, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Friday.

She said the government feels strongly the two-year-old legislation strikes the appropriate balance between the protection of people’s autonomy and safeguards for vulnerable people.

“We’re not considering changing something in the legislation,” Wilson-Raybould told reporters.

“We’re confident in the legislation that we brought forward, that it finds the right balance in terms of being able to access medical assistance in dying, protecting the autonomy of individuals to make the appropriate decisions for themselves as well as protecting vulnerable individuals.”

Audrey Parker, a terminally ill Halifax woman, ended her life Thursday with medical assistance, after issuing an impassioned deathbed plea urging lawmakers to change the legislation.

Diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2016, the 57-year-old woman had been approved for an assisted death but said the restrictive nature of the law forced her to end her life sooner than she would have liked.

Related: Advocate dies ‘peacefully’ after plea for changes to Canada’s assisted-death law

Related: Federal health minister responds to dying woman’s pleas to change law

Parker stressed the law had to be changed because anyone approved for a medically assisted death must be conscious and mentally sound at the moment they grant their final consent for a lethal injection.

The issue will be among those considered in a report being drafted by a panel of experts, which is due by the end of the year but is not expected to make recommendations.

“We’re looking forward to receiving those reports back on mature minors, on advance directives, and on mental illness alone as an indicator for medical assistance in dying, and we’ll review those reports when we get them,” said Wilson-Raybould.

She said her heart went out to Parker and her family.

Parker was given a lethal injection and “died peacefully” in her Halifax apartment, surrounded by close friends and family.

“I wanted to make it to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, my favourite time of the year, but I lost that opportunity because of a poorly thought-out federal law,” Parker wrote in a Facebook post hours before her death.

She asked people to send emails or texts to their member of Parliament to encourage them to amend the law to help people in her category, which she described as “assessed and approved.”

Meanwhile, Dying With Dignity Canada spokesman Cory Ruf questioned why the government was being so definitive in its stance only a day after Parker’s death.

“It appears callous for the government to so quickly dismiss the lessons of her story,” Ruf said in an interview.

“It’s interesting that the justice minister used the word vulnerable. People who qualify for assisted dying, who’ve been assessed and approved for assisted dying, are vulnerable.”

Ruf said his organization questions the government’s suggestion that the rule that forces people to confirm their wishes before being assisted in death protects the vulnerable.

“In fact Audrey’s story shows us that it does the opposite,” he said.

Ruf said his organization is determined to continue a fight that doesn’t end with Parker’s death.

“More stories like Audrey’s are going to come their (the government’s) way,” he said. “Her story, the decision she faced at end of life is not unique and government knows that.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Traffic back to normal after accident at Island Highway-Brechin Road in Nanaimo

Accident involved truck and taxi at turn lane leading to Departure Bay ferry terminal

United Way’s denim drive launches at Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Centre

United by Denim campaign runs from Aug. 17 until Sept. 2

Yacht designer will share dramatic stories from America’s Cup racing

Steve Killing to speak at Nanaimo Yacht Club on Aug. 24 for choir fundraiser

Nanaimo Community Hospice Society to launch mobile unit

Society holding open house on Aug. 28

High school players can get a jump on hoops season with VIU program

Vancouver Island University Mariners women’s basketball team launches training centre

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 15

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Most Read