Canadian Law Forces Woman to End Her Life Early

Audrey Parker advocated for a change in the law before her Nov. 1 death
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2018 11:05 AM CST
Updated Nov 10, 2018 10:10 AM CST
Canadian Law Forces Woman to End Her Life Early
Audrey Parker ended her life on Nov. 1.   (Getty Images)

Audrey Parker used Canada's medically assisted death law to legally end her life—but a provision in that law forced her to do so months earlier than she wanted to. The Guardian looks at the 57-year-old's case and the debate it has generated: Parker's stage 4 breast cancer was painful and advanced enough that she qualified as having a "grievous and irremediable medical condition," as determined by two doctors. But the law requires that one be of sound mind at the time of his or her death—and with the Toronto Star reporting the cancer had moved into Parker's brain lining, she feared that if she held off, her lucidity might erode. "I would have liked to have really lived until Christmas. But I can't take the chance of losing my window," she told the Globe and Mail. So she opted for a premature death on Nov. 1.

The Globe and Mail reports the provision was put in as a "safeguard," with the Guardian noting cases of dementia patients who request death but then forget they have done so and happily live out their last days. On the flip side, the provision has also forced others to reel in their painkiller dosage at the end, resulting in increased pain. Before Parker's death, she publicly advocated to have the law changed, and the Guardian reports federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould responded in the negative: "We're not considering changing something in the legislation." Parker discusses her experience in a lengthy obituary she wrote herself, which is filled with gratitude, features 10 pieces of advice, and ends with this: "Until we meet again, I leave you with a simple message: Be kind ... because you can." (This man had issues with the way he had to end his life.)

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