Manitoba patient wants court to grant doctor-assisted death, anonymity

An unnamed Manitoba patient is going to court for the right to die with the help of a doctor.

WINNIPEG — An unnamed Manitoba patient is going to court for the right to die with the help of a doctor.

Court documents show the patient wants a constitutional exemption for a physician-assisted death because of two grievous medical conditions that are causing suffering.

The Supreme Court has ruled that anyone who wants an assisted death before the federal government enacts a new law can apply to a judge.

The documents say the patient has the capacity to make an informed decision and is physically incapable of hastening death without a doctor’s help.

The patient is also seeking a publication ban that would include the names of all health-care workers involved.

A hearing on the ban was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The application says doctors who are willing to help the patient die are reluctant to do so if their identities are not protected.

“It could be very harmful to other vulnerable and mentally ill patients that are treated by the respondent physicians and may impair the physicians’ therapeutic relationship with their patients,” says the patient’s application.

The patient’s family is also concerned about privacy.

“If the names of the applicant and the applicant’s family are made public, the applicant may not be able to spend their remaining days in private and die with dignity surrounded by their family,” the application states.

“The applicant and the applicant’s spouse are afraid they will be contacted or harassed by individuals or groups opposed to the applicant’s decision to end their life with the assistance of a physician.”

The application notes that an Alberta court has already allowed a physician-assisted death and granted a publication ban. Last week, the Ontario court ordered the identity of an 80-year-old man seeking a doctor-assisted death, along with the names of his family and any doctors involved, be kept secret.

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