N.S. woman trying to stop husband from medically assisted death denied appeal motion

A Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judge has upheld a lower court decision that effectively allows a man to go ahead with a medically assisted death, in spite of his wife’s efforts to stop him.

The 83-year-old man from Bridgewater, N.S., was assessed by physicians and approved for medical assistance in dying (MAID) earlier this year, but his wife, Katherine, 82, filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, forcing him to cancel his plans.

CBC News is identifying the couple only by the woman’s first name to protect their privacy and his ability to access health care. His wife has threatened to sue health-care providers who help her husband access a medically assisted death.

While the husband says he’s suffering and near the end of his life because of advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), his wife says his wish to die is not based on physical illness, but anxiety and mental delusions. 

The couple have known each other for more than 60 years and have been married for 48. 

Last week, a Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judge considered whether to set aside an earlier decision from Nova Scotia Supreme Court dismissing the wife’s injunction request.

In a written decision released Friday afternoon, Justice Elizabeth Van den Eynden denied Katherine’s motion to stay the supreme court ruling. In doing so, she cleared the legal barriers that had been preventing the man from accessing a medically assisted death.

The case could still go to a formal appeal hearing and is scheduled to do so on Sept. 24.

Katherine’s lawyers noted last week that should her husband go ahead with the MAID procedure before then, it would render the appeal moot. This was one of their arguments for an extension of the interim injunction.

Van den Eynden acknowledged in her decision that the man could proceed with MAID before an appeal, but like the supreme court judge who ruled on the case before her, she found that on balance, the man would suffer more greatly if his wife’s request was granted than if it were not. 

Katherine’s lawyers did not immediately respond to CBC’s request for comment, nor did her husband.


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