Death of Ontario woman, 94, exposes urgent need for new laws

A story out of Waterloo, Ont., has thrown into sharp relief the need for new laws that provide safe, reliable access to physician assisted dying.

Elisabeth Vogel, 94, died on July 23 after forgoing food and most liquids for more than two weeks. Legal access to assisted dying would have spared his mother the excruciating experience of starving herself to death, her son, Steve, told the Waterloo Record.

Vogel recently noticed a decline in her mental faculties and feared that she’d be institutionalized if her condition deteriorated quickly, Steve said.

"She simply decided that if she let it go for too much longer, she'd end up institutionalized and she absolutely did not want that. The fear of losing the ability to make her own choices about her destiny is what drove this," he told The Record.

"She couldn't have been clearer," Steve said, about his mother’s wish to die with the help of a physician.

A resident of B.C., Steve blames the federal government’s inaction on the assisted dying file for the agony that his mother experienced. He said new assisted dying laws would have given his mother an alternative means to ending her suffering.

Instead, she felt she had no choice but to go without nourishment in order to die on her own terms.

"To have to watch that unfold over a period of days, it's torture,” Steve said.

When the Supreme Court ruled in February to strike down the Criminal Code ban on physician assisted dying, it gave Ottawa and the provinces one year to adopt new legislation in response to the change.

However, the federal government waited five months to announce it was launching a public consultation on assisted dying, and has said that, if re-elected this fall, it will ask the Supreme Court to delay the implementation of its ruling.

Go to The Record’s website to read the full story.

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