TORONTO – An Ontario judge says the identities of doctors who might help a terminally ill man die can be kept secret.
The judge says confidentiality orders are needed to avoid unwanted publicity and media attention for the man, his family and physicians involved.
“The confidentiality order is necessary in order to ensure that the applicant, his family, physicians and other health care professionals, are not deterred from participating in a Carter application for fear of unwanted publicity and media attention,” Justice McEwen said in his written decision on Monday.
The 80-year-old man, identified as A.B. in court documents, will be asking the courts to approve his request for doctor-assisted suicide later this month.
He did not ask for the hearing itself to be closed, only that the names of those involved be kept secret.
The judge calls that a reasonable compromise. He says there are good reason to proceed anonymously, including sparing everyone from unwanted publicity.
WATCH: Global’s ongoing coverage of the laws around physician-assisted death
Andrew Faith, a lawyer representing A.B says the ruling will bring privacy to others who may seek an application for a physician-assisted death.
“This decision will give comfort to those who are bringing these applications because they now know they can do it with respect to their personal privacy and that of their physician,” said Faith.
“They don’t have to worry that before they bring the application their names may be published. It will allow people to make the decision with some comfort. ”
A woman from Calgary with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ended her life with help from doctors more than a week ago, after receiving a legal exemption similar to the Ontario man’s request.
Ms. S., whose identity remains hidden under a publication restriction, is believed to be the first person in Canada outside Quebec to legally end her life with a doctor’s help.
If the Superior Court approves A.B.’s application, he will be the first person in Ontario to be granted a physician-assisted death. He will be asking the court on March 17 to approve his application.
*With files from Andrew Russell
© 2016 The Associated Press