EDMONTON — An Alberta woman at the centre of a court case over her request for a physician-assisted death has died.
The woman known as E.F. in court documents suffered a mental condition called severe conversion disorder which had left her effectively blind, unable to eat and in constant pain.
"I have received instructions from E.F.'s family that I am at liberty to say that she passed away peacefully earlier this week in Vancouver, surrounded by her family and good friends," Trista Carey, the woman's lawyer, wrote in an email Friday.
The email does not make it clear if E.F. received assistance in her death.
On May 5 an Alberta Court of Queen's Bench judge allowed her an assisted death.
But the federal government appealed the decision, along with the government of British Columbia, where E.F. had arranged for a physician to help her die.
On May 17 the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the decision, with a panel of three judges saying the federal government was flouting last year's Supreme Court ruling by arguing that assisted dying should only apply to people who are close to death.
On May 20 E.F.'s family appealed to the Attorney General of Canada to respect the Alberta court decisions.
At the time her family said the 58-year-old woman's mind was sharp but that she had lived in agony for the last eight years.
The family said she suffered intense pain over her entire body, including searing migraines that made her feel like a prisoner in her own body.
She could no longer eat, dress, bathe or move. Sleep was only possible with the help of strong medication.
The family did not say when E.F. planned to die but asked for privacy in "our last precious days together.''
The Supreme Court has given the federal government until Monday to come up with a new law.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed optimism, but there is no way the government can enact doctor-assisted dying legislation by then.
Senators gave the legislation, known as Bill C-14, second reading and approval in principle on Friday and sent it to the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs.
After the vote, the Senate adjourned until Tuesday — the day after the deadline.
Legal experts have said that in the absence of a new law, the Supreme Court ruling will become the law of the land.
Advocates have said the practice would likely end up being guided by medical regulators in the provinces and territories.