Sue Rodriguez (August 2, 1950 – February 12, 1994) was a Canadian right to die activist.
In August 1991, she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) and was given two to five years to live.
She ultimately made the decision to end her life and she sought the assistance of a doctor to that end.
However, none would help her; under section 241(b) of the nation's Criminal Code, anyone who "...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".
Rodriguez sought a legal exception in her home province, British Columbia, but was denied.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed a lawsuit, Rodriguez v British Columbia (AG), that challenged section 241(b) as contrary to sections 7, 12, and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In a videotaped address to Parliament on November 24, 1992, Rodriguez famously asked, “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” On May 20, 1993, her case was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
On September 30 of that year, it decided against her 5-4.On February 12, 1994, with the assistance of an anonymous doctor, Sue Rodriguez took her own life by ingesting a liquid mixture of morphine and secobarbital The doctor's intervention was arranged by MP Svend Robinson, who was regarded as one of Rodriguez's most prominent supporters.
Robinson was present at her death.
However, by her request, her ex-husband Henry and their son Cole were not.
An investigation was undertaken, but no charges were laid.
Robinson has vowed never to reveal the anonymous doctor's identity.
Almost 23 years later, on June 7, 2016, physician-assisted suicide became legal in Canada as the result of a similar Supreme Court case, Carter v Canada (AG).
The Court unanimously struck down parts of section 241(b) and section 14 of the Criminal Code which the justices ruled unjustifiably infringed on section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.