A 77-year-old Canadian woman suffering from incurable erosive osteoarthritis is one step closer to legally taking her own life after a judge in Toronto ruled she met a key criteria of Canada's 2016 medically assisted death law. The CBC reports that Superior Court Justice Paul Perrell ruled last Monday that the woman's "natural death is reasonably foreseeable," one of four criteria required for medically assisted death under bill C-14. Eligible individuals must also have a serious and incurable disease or disability, be in an irreversible state of advanced decline, and suffer from intolerable physical or psychological pain, per the Globe and Mail. Though the woman's condition is not terminal, Perrell said it was clear "she doesn’t have long to live, given her age and health."
Perrell noted that the woman's doctor had concluded his patient's death was reasonably foreseeable but retracted his assessment out of fear that he could be charged with her murder. Perrell said the issue at the heart of the case was the doctor’s "abundance of caution and apprehensive misunderstanding," the Toronto Star reports. The law's "reasonably foreseeable death" criteria has long been a source of controversy, and advocates of legally assisted suicide celebrated Perrell's decision for clearing up the confusion at the heart of C-14. "We have found an inconsistent application when it comes to the eligibility criteria," says Shanaaz Gokool, CEO of Dying With Dignity, "and I think this decision will go a long way to extinguish that sort of myth." (Here's how many Californians have exercised their right to die.)