Supreme Court ruling came too late for Kathy Wardle

For Kathy Wardle, the Supreme Court’s Feb. 6 decision to decriminalize assisted dying came too late.

She had already made up her mind that she would go to Switzerland to die with the help of a physician. The constant pain and agony she suffered as a result of her chronic osteoarthritis had become too much for her to bear. Her sister would accompany her and support her through the journey. Kathy couldn’t wait a year for the ruling to come into effect.

Wardle’s heartbreaking story is the subject of a new radio documentary for CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition called “This was her time.” The 20-minute work features interviews with Kathy and her sister, Lesley Forrester, and explores how their friendship strengthened ahead of their trip overseas.

Wardle, of Toronto, died on March 23 at Zurich’s Dignitas clinic. She was 73. She hoped she would be one of the last Canadians to obtain an assisted death in Switzerland, where end-of-life choice has been legal for more than a decade.

 “I feel I should be able to do this at home — in your own bed, to have my doggies there, to have my dear friends around me if they chose to be with me,” she said in the weeks before her death. “And to just go at home is the way that I would so prefer.

“I think anybody thinking it through would choose that option if it was available.”

The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the federal ban on physician assisted dying comes into effect on Feb. 6, 2016. However, questions remain about whether assisted dying will be widely available to Canadians who need it.

The federal government has said it doesn't plan to introduce new assisted dying legislation before the next election, which is expected in October. That would leave the House of Commons very little time to table and pass legislation before the February 2016 deadline.

Go over to The Sunday Edition's website to hear Wardle's story. An article with additional details about the sisters' journey is available at CBC News.

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