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Woman, 27, can proceed with MAID after Calgary judge sets aside injunction

The Calgary Courts Centre is pictured in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh) The Calgary Courts Centre is pictured in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
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A Calgary judge has ruled a 27-year-old woman should have access to medical assistance in dying (MAID), despite her father’s attempt to block her request.

Justice Colin C.J. Feasby’s Monday Court of King’s Bench decision sets aside an injunction requested by the woman's father. The decision, however, prevents her from following through with the procedure for 30 days while the family contemplates an appeal.

Information that could identify the individuals involved in this case is subject to a publication ban. The young woman is identified only as MV, while her father is WV.

MV was approved to receive MAID by two doctors. However, her father argued she is vulnerable and “is not competent to make the decision to take her own life.”

He also submitted he believes that MV does not meet the criteria to be eligible for MAID.

“He says that she is generally healthy and believes that her physical symptoms, to the extent that she has any, result from undiagnosed psychological condition,” court documents read.

After a request from WV, a justice issued an interim injunction on Jan. 31 that prevented MV and Alberta Health Services (AHS) from going ahead with her MAID appointment.

MV applied to have the interim injunction set aside.

In his decision, Justice Feasby said WV raised “justiciable and serious issues to be tried,” but ultimately decided that “MV’s dignity and right to self-determination outweighs the important matters raised by WV and the harm that he will suffer in losing MV.”

He said the evidence in the case suggests MV struggled to find a doctor who could diagnose her condition and offer appropriate treatment. The decision also noted that finding the right specialist and treatment plan can be “frustrating and disheartening.”

“I do not know you and I do not know why you seek MAID. Your reasons remain your own because I have respected your autonomy and your privacy,” Justice Feasby said to MV in his decision.

“My decision recognizes your right to choose a medically assisted death; but it does not require you to choose death.”

The decision sets aside the interim injunction, however, it was stayed for 30 days to allow WV to appeal. The injunction will remain in place for the duration of the stay.

MV was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. The decision notes, however, that these diagnoses alone do not mean she lacks the capacity to choose MAID, according to the decision.

Her father also alleged she suffers from undiagnosed mental psychological conditions, but there was no evidence before the court that supported those claims.

The decision’s background notes that MV did not provide evidence to contest the facts submitted by her father, identify her medical condition and symptoms or explain how they cause suffering, apart from the approval by two doctors.

What is MAID?

MAID allows eligible people to receive assistance from a medical practitioner in ending their life, according to Health Canada.

“Anyone requesting this service must meet specific eligibility criteria to receive medical assistance in dying,” Health Canada said on its website.

“Any medical practitioner who administers an assisted death to someone must satisfy certain safeguards first.”

One of the criteria to be eligible for MAID is having a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.”

This includes having a serious illness, disease or disability; being in an irreversible advanced state of decline and experiencing “unbearable physical or mental suffering” due to illness, disease, disability or state of decline that cannot be relieved under acceptable conditions.

The MAID law came into force on March 17, 2021, and “aimed to respect personal autonomy for those seeking access to MAID, while at the same time protecting vulnerable people and the equality rights of all Canadians,” according to Canada’s Department of Justice.

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