VANCOUVER, August 18, 2011 ( – A lawsuit filed in British Columbia by the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die challenging Canadian laws against assisted suicide was rejected by Supreme Court Judge Lynn Smith on August 17.

The case was one of two being heard in B.C. Supreme Court.

Farewell Foundation’s suit was based on a refusal by the British Columbia Registrar of Companies to register the group because the aims of the organization – to establish a non-profit corporation, along the lines of Swiss-based assisted suicide groups, for the purpose of assisting the suicides of its members – contravene the criminal code.

Judge Smith ruled the Farewell Foundation’s case did not have standing because the suit was filed on behalf of anonymous members.

“Justice Smith found that if the Farewell Foundation wished to bring a constitutional challenge, the members whose health is deteriorating must identify themselves,” the group’s lawyer Jason Gratl said in a statement.

Donnaree Nygard, lawyer for the federal attorney general, argued the case was “hypothetical” because the plaintiffs were not facing criminal charges for assisted suicide, according to the Vancouver Sun.

However, Judge Smith informed the suicide group that they were welcome to apply for intervener status in another right-to-die case filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) on behalf of the family of Kay Carter, who died by assisted suicide at the Swiss Dignitas suicide center in January 2010, and Gloria Taylor, who lives with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), says his organization is prepared to intervene in the BCCLA lawsuit as well.

“The Farewell Foundation case attempted to legalize ‘Swiss style’ assisted suicide, while the BCCLA (Carter/Taylor) case is attempting to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide via the court,” Schadenberg said.

“The EPC is particularly concerned with the language of the BCCLA Notice of Application,” Schadenberg warned, “which indicates a particularly negative attitude to the lives of people with disabilities. Living with a disability is not a life not worth living but rather a challenge to society to enable people with disabilities to live with equality and acceptance.”

“The EPC recognizes that the laws that prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide are designed to protect people in the most vulnerable time of their lives, and rejects the concept that it is necessary to legalize euthanasia and/or assisted suicide in order to ensure a ‘death with dignity’.”

Schadenberg pointed out that in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, the suicide rate has steadily climbed since 2000 with Oregon’s suicide rate now being 35% higher than the national average. This corresponds with other trends that suggest that the social acceptance of assisted suicide creates a suicide contagion effect.

“The EPC considers the BCCLA case to be dangerous to public safety and a recipe for elder abuse,” Schadenberg added.


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