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A Calgary court has backed a 27-year-old woman’s right to pursue assisted suicide despite strong resistance from her father. 

The legal dispute stemmed from the father’s attempt to prevent his daughter, who lives with him, from going ahead with the practice on the grounds that it would cause extreme grief.

Due to a publication ban, the identities of those involved remain confidential, but they are referred to in court documents as M.V. for the daughter and W.V. for the father.

In his decision, Justice Colin Feasby recognized the deep sorrow that W.V. would experience from his daughter’s passing but stressed the importance of M.V.’s right to make decisions about her own health. 

“M.V.’s dignity and right to self-determination outweigh the important matters raised by W.V. and the harm that he will suffer in losing M.V.,” wrote Feasby.

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

This judgment overturned a temporary injunction that had previously stopped M.V.’s planned assisted suicide.

Feasby instituted a 30-day delay in enforcing his decision, giving W.V. time to file an appeal.

During this time, the temporary injunction will stay in place. 

M.V. received approval for assisted suicide in December, though the court records do not detail her eligibility criteria. M.V. has autism and ADHD, but additional medical information was not detailed in the decision.

Lawyer Austin Paladeau, representing M.V., highlighted the essential nature of the right to medical self-determination. 

He argued that while W.V.’s fatherly affection is undeniable, it does not confer the right to control his daughter’s choices regarding her life’s end. 

W.V. argued that his daughter’s vulnerability and alleged lack of capacity to make such a significant decision need to be considered. 

“(Her father) says that she is generally healthy and believes that her physical symptoms, to the extent that she has any, result from undiagnosed psychological conditions,” wrote Feasby.

For assisted suicide to be granted, a patient needs consent from two healthcare practitioners. M.V. initially consulted two professionals; one agreed to the procedure, while the other did not. 

Consequently, a third healthcare professional was consulted to resolve the impasse. The third ultimately supported M.V.’s request although W.V. argued this practitioner was biased.