Two Canadian Challenges to Assisted Suicide Prohibition

The Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die has filed suit challenging the Registrar of Corporations denial of the organization’s application to incorporate. The Registrar denied the application on the basis that organizing to assist those who seek to commit suicide is not a legally permissible purpose. The petition in the law suit is available here.

Motions in the case are scheduled to be heard by the British Columbia Supreme Court on August 2 & 3, 2011. On the first day, lawyers will argue whether to proceed on the basis of Farewell’s appeal against the BC Registrar decision to deny incorporation to Farewell Foundation, or the civil claim against the Attorney General of Canada.

On the second day the Attorney General of Canada will argue its motion on Farewell’s standing to challenge s.241(b) of the Criminal Code. Farewell Foundation will argue that its founding directors have a direct interest in s.241(b) by virtue of the BC Registry decision to deny incorporation, that the Foundation’s purposes are to assist members to end their lives, and that certain members of the Foundation are diagnosed with conditions that are expected to lead to intolerable pain and suffering and they wish the option of ending their lives with assistance.

In April, 2011 the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association filed Lee Carter, et al. v. Attorney General, a separate attack on the law prohibiting assisted suicide. A copy of the amended notice of claim in that case can be found here. Additional information about the case can be found here.

Both the Farewell Foundation and the BCCLA cases seek to overturn Rodriguez v. British Columbia, 3 SCR 517 (1993), a Canadian Supreme Court case upholding the government’s ability to outlaw assisted suicide. A copy of the opinion can be found here.

Teresa Collett

Teresa Stanton Collett is a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches bioethics, property law, and constitutional law. A nationally prominent speaker and scholar, she is active in attempts to rebuild the Culture of Life and protect the institutions of marriage and family. She often represents groups of state legislators, the Catholic Medical Association, and the Christian Medical and Dental Association in appellate case related to medical-legal matters. She represented the governors of Minnesota and North Dakota before the U.S. Supreme Court as amici curiae regarding the effectiveness of those states’ parental involvement laws. She has served as special attorney general for Oklahoma and Kansas related to legislation designed to protect the well-being of minors and unborn children. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has testified before committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittees on the Constitution, as well as numerous legislative committees in the states.