First court-approved assisted death in Newfoundland could come within weeks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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First court-approved assisted death in Newfoundland could come within weeks

June 06, 2016 - 2:44 PM

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A Newfoundland lawyer says the province's first court-approved assisted death could be granted in a matter of weeks.

Lawyer Kyle Rees of St. John's said Monday his unidentified client has secured a second doctor to sign off on the request and administer the medication that will allow the man to end his life.

Rees said he is proceeding with his court challenge of the law prohibiting doctor-assisted death, even though the law expired Monday with Parliament unable to meet the Supreme Court of Canada's deadline for new legislation.

"From a strictly legal perspective, there's no need to get a court order once the law against assisting becomes of no force and effect," Rees said. "We're still moving forward ... because we think it's important that the court have some oversight in that process."

Under guidelines issued by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the province, two doctors must agree a patient meets the criteria set out by last year's Supreme Court ruling that the patient be a consenting adult with a "grievous and irremediable" medical condition.

Rees said his client's attending physician has already signed an affidavit to that effect, and he has now found another doctor from outside the province who has agreed to prescribe the life-ending drugs.

He said his client is over the age of 65, and has suffered from prostate cancer for a number of years.

The man is in great pain and has exhausted all avenues of potential treatment including palliative care, according to Rees.

"At parliamentary speed, for something to crawl along in a few months is not unusual," he said. "For somebody who is suffering from great pain from an illness that will never be cured in a hospital bed, it's not going to be enough."

Rees appeared in court in St. John's on Monday on the matter and is expected to return on Friday.

— By Adina Bresge in Halifax

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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