Gloria Taylor, who won a landmark B.C. Supreme Court case for the right to die with dignity, has passed away.
She died suddenly on Thursday from a severe infection resulting from a perforated colon, said the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in a statement on Friday.
Taylor, who had Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS, wanted the right to die with dignity and with the help of a doctor. In June, she was granted the right to physician-assisted suicide by a B.C. judge who gave her a personal exemption.
"This is momentous time in history. Now all Canadians will have the right to die with dignity. This is a blessing for me and for all other seriously ill Canadians," Taylor said at the time.
While Taylor won a hard-fought case, she told the media she had no immediate plans to end her life.
"Due to the acute nature and brief course of her illness from the infection, Gloria did not need to seek the assistance of a physician to end her life," said the BCCLA on Friday. "In the end, Gloria’s death was quick and peaceful."
Taylor, who lived in West Kelowna, died in hospital, surrounded by her friends and family members, said the group.
"We are grateful that Gloria was given the solace of knowing that she had a choice about how and when she would die. Thanks to the ruling of the B.C. Supreme Court, Gloria was able to live her final days free from the fear that she would be sentenced to suffer cruelly in a failing body," said Anne Fomenoff, Gloria’s mother.
"I am so proud of my feisty, determined daughter – she struggled to make the world better for Canadians. I speak on behalf of my entire family when I say we are so proud of her legacy. We are blessed to have known and loved this special woman."
The federal government appealed the B.C. Supreme Court decision for which a hearing is scheduled for March 2013. It's widely believed this fight will end at the Supreme Court of Canada.
"The BCCLA will continue with the lawsuit, fighting to protect Gloria’s victory against government appeals. Gloria lit the torch, now we will carry it. This case is her legacy," said Grace Pastine, the association's litigation director.
Another B.C. woman, Sue Rodriguez, was the first to challenge Canada's laws against assisted suicide. In 1994, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against her. Since then, jurisdictions around the world including Oregon, the Netherlands and Belgium have introduced laws that allow assisted suicide.
Taylor's lawsuit was as vigorously opposed by opponents as the Rodriguez case.
"We're saddened to hear of her death and had hoped she would enjoy a longer life and we remain convinced that she was mistaken in pursuing this litigation as a way to handle her situation," Dr. Will Johnston, of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition BC., said Thursday.
With files from The Canadian Press
Also on HuffPost:
Euthanasia In Canada
Here's a look at the state of Euthanasia laws in Canada and their history.
Suicide Not A Crime
Suicide hasn't been a crime in Canada since 1972. (Shutterstock)
Doctor-Assisted Suicide Illegal
Doctor-assisted suicide is illegal, although the ruling of the B.C. Supreme Court will force Parliament to alter the law within one year.<br><br> The <a href="http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/page-113.html#h-79" target="_hplink">Criminal Code of Canada states in section 241</a> that:<br><br> "Every one who (a) counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years." (Alamy)
Passive euthanasia involves letting a patient die instead of prolonging life with medical measures. Passive euthanasia is legal in Canada.<br><br> The decision is left in the hands of family or a designated proxy. Written wishes, including those found in living wills, do not have to be followed by family or a proxy. (Alamy)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodriguez_v._British_Columbia_(Attorney_General)" target="_hplink">Sue Rodriguez</a>, who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), launched a case asking the Supreme Court of Canada to allow her to end her own life on the grounds that the current law discriminated against her disability.<br><br> Because suicide is legal in Canada and Rodriguez was unable to end her life because of a lack of mobility, she argued it was discriminatory to prevent her from ending her own life with the aid of another.<br><br> The court refused her request in 1993, but one year later she ended her life anyway with the help of an unnamed doctor. (CP)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Latimer" target="_hplink">Robert Latimer was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1993 death of his severely disabled daughter Tracy</a>. A lack of oxygen during Tracy's birth led to cerebral palsy and serious mental and physical disabilities, including seizures and the inability to walk or talk. Her father ended Tracy's life by placing her in his truck and connecting a hose to the vehicle's exhaust.<br><br>The case led to a heated debate over euthanasia in Canada and two Supreme Court challenges. <br><br>Latimer was granted day parole in 2008 and full parole in 2010. (CP)
Bills To Legalize
Former Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde tried repeatedly to get legislation legalizing euthanasia in Canada passed. Bill C-407 and Bill C-384 were both aimed at making assisted suicide legal. C-384 was defeated in the House 228 to 59, with many Bloc MPs and a handful of members from all other parties voting for the legislation.<br><br> Tetraplegic Tory MP Steven Fletcher, pictured, made the following statement after C-384 was defeated: <br><br> "I would like to be recorded as abstaining on this bill. The reason is I believe end of life issues need to be debated more in our country. I believe that life should be the first choice but not the only choice and that we have to ensure that resources and supports are provided to Canadians so that choice is free. I believe, when all is said and done, the individual is ultimately responsible. I want to make this decision for myself, and if I cannot, I want my family to make the decision. I believe most Canadians, or many Canadians, feel the same. As William Henley said in his poem Invictus, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."<br><br>(CP)