With the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to overturn the ban on assisted suicide — or the right to die — Castlegar resident, Anne Fomenoff can rest a little easier.
Fomenoff was by her daughter, Gloria Taylor’s side as she fought her case a few years back, for the right to assisted suicide. It was in 2009 that Taylor was first diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a debilitating and fatal neuro-degenerative disease.
Taylor was a big believer in the cause and followed in the footsteps of Sue Rodriguez fighting for her own right to a medically-assisted death. In 2011 through 2012, Taylor fought and won her own case for an assisted death. She never had to use this right and passed away, peacefully and pain-free with friends and family by her side in late 2012.
Upon hearing the Court’s ruling, mother Anne Fomenoff said, “We were just blown away. But at the same time, I expected that would happen because that’s what most people generally wanted, and it’s just a matter of choice. The right to a choice, and it went through.”
While the whole process to get things in order and change practice will likely take over a year, Fomenoff is ecstatic that people now have this right, which to some may seem odd.
She believes death is much more taboo than it should be.
“People are afraid of death and they don’t talk about,” she said, “Gloria didn’t want to die. I don’t want to die, but I’m sure going to be ready for it when the time comes.”
“We’ve got palliative care and hospice and all that, but in the event of pain and end of life gets out of hand, I can choose.”
The decision was made by the Supreme Court on Friday, February 6. Their reasoning was the current law was a breach of human rights. Mainly, life, liberty and security of the person.
In addition to reasons that may breach Canada’s Charter of Rights, the Judges looked at what may harm a person’s dignity and that leaving a person to suffer, certainly impinges on the security of the person.
“That’s what Gloria really wanted. To have that right for the choice. My comment would be — because I have been asked so many times — the dialogue has to start at home. The dialogue is about death, dying and grief,” Fomenoff explained.
She accredits her way of thinking to the way she was brought up, saying funerals were more open and natural in the farming community she grew up in.
“I hear comments such as, ‘Everyone has a certain quality of life.’ No. No, don’t give me that. We see so many that there’s no quality what-so-ever. They don’t even know who they are anymore with their pain.”
While this new ruling in no way means many people will be choosing to die with medical assistance, many believe the right is there now, and that’s a great step forward.
Fomenoff said this is exactly what her daughter wanted when she began her fight.
“Oh, she’s flying high. Her and Sue Rodriguez just must be celebrating on the other side.”