Interim Staff:

Justice Colin Feasby ruled that a 27-year-old autistic woman who lives with her parents can die by euthanasia.

The woman, identified only as M.V., has no other health issues and lives with her parents. Her father objected to his daughter being euthanized and won a temporary injunction on Jan. 31 that prevented the woman from being euthanized as the court heard his challenge.

Justice Feasby ruled on March 25, that M.V.’s autonomy outweighed any grief her father, identified as W.V., would suffer as a result of her death. In a 34-page written decision, Feasby said, “M.V.’s dignity and right to self-determination outweighs the important matters raised by W.V. and the harm that he will suffer in losing M.V.”

The judge continued: “”Though I find that W.V. has raised serious issues, I conclude that M.V.’s autonomy and dignity interests outweigh competing considerations.”

Justice Feasby stayed his decided for another 30 days in order to provide time for a possible appeal of the decision by W.V. to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition reported that M.V., the daughter, provided no evidence that her health condition would qualify for euthanasia, with her sole argument being that her decision to be medically killed was none of her father’s business.

Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying law requires that applicants have a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” and “be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability.” Autism would not seem to qualify.

The father, meanwhile, provided evidence that proved his daughter was generally healthy. His lawyer argued W.V.’s daughter was vulnerable and not competent to make the decision to apply for euthanasia. According to court documents, the daughter’s only diagnoses are autism and ADHD and her request for euthanasia was rejected by one doctor before being approved by another. W.V. objected to the Alberta Health Service (AHS) finding his daughter a second doctor to approve killing M.V. through Medical Assistance in Dying.  According to the CBC, “her father took issue with the third doctor who signed off on M.V.’s MAID approval ‘because he was not independent or objective’.”

Justice Feasby said the AHS MAiD navigator’s role was reviewable, although Schadenberg questioned whether that was possible within the 30-day stay of Feasby’s decision. The judge wrote, “There can be no doubt that it is a serious issue,” as “The AHS MAiD policy is part of the legal framework governing medical assistance in dying and, as such, is a matter of life and death.”