Manitoba patient asks court for doctor-assisted death

Manitoba patient asks court for doctor-assisted deathAn unnamed person will be requesting the Manitoba Court from Queen’s Bench on Tuesday to allow them to die via doctor-assisted death. This marks the first such case in the Canadian province, after a Supreme Court of Canada decision last year formally scrapped laws preventing medical professionals from facilitating a patient’s death.

The patient declined to provide their name or gender, and also chose not to disclose their medical condition. However, court documents show that the person has two “grievous irremediable medical conditions that cause suffering.” Additionally, the documents state that the patient is informed about their options, and also has the “mental capacity to make a clear, free, and informed decision about a physician-assisted death.”

Aside from the patient requesting to keep their personal information confidential per the Personal Health Information Act, they have also applied for a court-ordered production prohibition that hides the identities of the four physicians who will be taking part in the procedure. The identity of any medical facility where the patient receives services related to their death will also be kept confidential.

This strict confidentiality, the documents note, will let the patient “die with dignity” and spend their last days in privacy. Disclosures of the identities of the medical professionals and facilities involved in the case will be harmful to everyone involved in the case, and may potentially “impair the physician’s therapeutic relationship with their patients.”

In an unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada decided last year to let people with serious and incurable medical conditions have the right to request doctor-assisted death. The Supreme Court then gave the Canadian government a year to draft the new bill, and eventually allowed the government until June 6, 2016 to write new laws if needed. Till then, patients would be able to get a doctor-assisted death exemption from provincial court, should they choose to go through with the procedure.