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Terminally ill woman wants earlier trial date in B.C. right-to-die case

A terminally ill woman seeking the right to doctor-assisted suicide is asking for an earlier trial date before the B.C. Supreme Court.

Justice C. Lynn Smith will decide tomorrow whether the case of Gloria Taylor, a 63 year old woman suffering through the late stages of A.L.S., will receive an expedited hearing date.

The lawsuit filed in April of this year challenges Canadian criminal law that prohibits patients suffering from terminal illness to end their own lives with the help of their physician.

As reported in The Tyee last month, the legality of assisted suicide has been debated within B.C. courts for nearly two decades.

Taylor, along with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union (BCCLA) and other plaintiffs in the case, are asking the Supreme Court to hold the trial in November, four months earlier than the originally scheduled hearing date.

According to Joseph Arvay, the lawyer representing Taylor and BCCLA, due to the fact that many of the plaintiffs in the case are in the final stages of terminal illness, the court should allow the trial to commence as quickly as possible.

Taylor asked to be added as a plaintiff to the BCCLA's "death with dignity" lawsuit on June 28 of this year. She suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a progressive motor neuron disorder in which patients gradually lose the ability to move or control their muscles. Those diagnosed with the disease usually die of reparatory complications within the first five years.

"Her situation is rather dire," says Arvay, referring to Taylor. "That's the reason we're looking for an expedited trial."

Ben Christopher is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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