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Man who was subject of wife’s appeal in Nova Scotia assisted death case dies

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia man whose wife tried to stop his medically assisted death in court has died in hospital.

According to his obituary posted on a funeral home website, 83-year-old Jack Eugene Sorenson died Saturday at Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg, N.S.

His wife of 48 years, Katherine Sorenson, lost a bid to stop his medically assisted death after it was rejected Friday by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel said the court has no jurisdiction to determine eligibility for medical assistance in dying, including whether an individual has the capacity to make decisions about end-of-life treatment.

It also said those decisions should be left to approved health-care assessors.

Katherine Sorenson, 82, had maintained her husband’s wish to die was based on anxiety and delusions.

The law office representing Jack Sorenson said Tuesday it would not be commenting on his death.

In an email, Katherine Sorenson’s lawyer Hugh Scher said he couldn’t confirm how Jack Sorenson died.

“I don’t know. Our client was not even informed of the death by the health authority or any doctor,” Scher said. “She learned of the death of her husband of 48 years from the funeral home, whom she had previously asked to call her in the event of such lack of consideration by others.”

Scher confirmed his client would still seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada “to correct the errors made by the courts below.”

The Nova Scotia Health Authority wouldn’t release any details about Sorenson’s death, citing patient confidentiality.

“With regard to the (medical assistance in dying) case that has been before the courts, we recognize that Katherine Sorenson has the right to apply for leave to appeal to Supreme Court of Canada, and Nova Scotia Health respects the legal process,” the statement said. “We are confident that in this case appropriate steps and processes were followed, in accordance with current legislation and policies.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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