Father of Calgary woman starving herself to death abandons court fight against her MAID approval

A Calgary father fighting through the courts to keep his 27-year-old daughter from accessing medical assistance in dying (MAID) has abandoned his appeal, 14 days after she stopped eating and drinking.

The woman, who can only be identified as M.V. because of a publication ban, was set to receive MAID in February. Her father — W.V. — does not believe his daughter has any medical conditions that would qualify her for MAID and wanted the courts to review how she was approved.

M.V., whose only publicly known diagnoses are autism and ADHD, has never disclosed in court the conditions she suffers from which led to her approval.

At the end of May, M.V. began starving herself because a judge's order blocks her access to MAID until appeal arguments — originally set to take place in October — can be heard.

Injunction 'moot'

Last week, after learning of M.V.'s voluntary stoppage of eating and drinking (VSED), Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Jolaine Antonio expedited the case to be heard on June 24.

But on Tuesday, W.V. filed a discontinuance of appeal.

Although no reasons were given in the document, a partially redacted letter from W.V.'s lawyer filed with the court last week alerts the court to the possibility that the appeal would be discontinued.

"We have asked counsel for the respondents, M.V. and [Alberta Health Services] for additional information or clarity on these circumstances but no information has been forthcoming prior to 3:00 p.m. today," wrote W.V.'s lawyer Sarah Miller.

In the letter, the lawyer says that a discontinuance would be filed if the question of an injunction becomes moot.

That could suggest that if M.V. continued her current course of action, the appeal would become unnecessary.

A letter to the Alberta Court of Appeal from W.V.'s lawyer is partially redacted but explains there are circumstances where his appeal would become "moot."
A letter to the Alberta Court of Appeal from W.V.'s lawyer is partially redacted but explains there are circumstances where his appeal would become "moot." (Alberta Court of Appeal )

M.V.'s condition is not known.

When reached by phone, Sarah Miller, counsel for W.V. said she was unable to comment at this time.

Neither of M.V.'s lawyers responded to CBC's emailed request for a comment.

The court battle

In April, a Court of King's Bench judge sided with M.V. but stayed his own decision to uphold her right to dignity and autonomy until the case could be heard by the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Last week, M.V.'s lawyer Austin Paladeau filed an urgent application with the province's top court asking for that stay to be lifted because of a "material change in circumstance" based on her commencing VSED.

In an affidavit, M.V. described VSED as "incredibly unpleasant" and said it was "increasing [her] suffering."

"I would greatly prefer to receive MAID to reduce the suffering I have to endure to protect my autonomy in acting out a decision I have already made," wrote M.V.

Hospital admissions

At the time, M.V. said she'd had multiple admissions to the emergency room and "non-psychiatric inpatient admissions" over the last several months.

"I have had every consult and specialist relevant to my symptoms determine that over the course of many years I have exhausted the available pain and nausea medications, and that I have tried all of the recommended complementary therapies," said M.V. in her affidavit.

M.V.'s father believes his daughter is generally healthy, and his lawyer previously argued in court that any physical symptoms she presents are a result of psychological conditions.

The daughter's only known diagnoses are autism and ADHD, but those conditions do not qualify her for MAID.