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Canada court hearing right-to-die case

Nov. 18, 2011 at 4:21 PM   |   Comments

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A desire to control their future, not depression or pain, is why people seek physician-assisted suicide, a Canadian court has heard in a right-to-die case.

Helene Starks, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, told the Supreme Court of British Columbia a study showed terminally ill patients sought the right to die only after long periods of reflection and were primarily driven by a desire for control over the place, process and timing of death, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported Thursday.

The study, Insights into Hastened Death, examined the experiences of 35 patients and their families in Washington and Oregon between 1996 and 2001.

Madam Justice Lynn Smith, hearing the first constitutional challenge on the issue in 18 years, asked Starks if she hadn't found signs that some patients had other reasons, such as depression or continuous pain.

"There were no people in our study who didn't fit this pattern," Starks said.

In the case before the court, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and a group of individuals, including a woman who is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease, are arguing it is unconstitutional to deny Canadians the right to have an assisted death.

Topics: Lou Gehrig
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