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Vancouver, B.C. February 21, 2011

The Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die commenced a constitutional challenge to the validity of s.241(b) of the Criminal Code this morning. Section 241(b) enacts the offence of aiding and abetting suicide, which is punishable by a term of incarceration of up to 14 years.

The Farewell Foundation is a non-profit organization that proposes to assist its members in ending their lives humanely. There is no other such organization in Canada. The Farewell Foundation has applied to the Registrar of Companies for incorporation as a non-profit society under the BC Society Act. Under s.2 of the Society Act, the Registrar may incorporate a non-profit society for any “lawful purpose”. The Farewell Foundation argues that its purposes are lawful because the prohibition against assisted suicide is constitutionally invalid pursuant to sections 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Canada has changed since the Supreme Court of Canada decided the Rodriguez case in 1993,” said Russel Ogden, one of the founding directors of the Farewell Foundation. “The vast majority of Canadians now believe that it should be lawful to provide assistance to people to allow them to end their lives without prolonged suffering. The experience in Washington, Oregon, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands demonstrates that transparent and accountable end of life regulations are possible, without eroding our respect for human life. Section 241(b) prevents Canadians from making the most fundamental choice of ending their own lives, and it needlessly protracts human suffering.”

The Farewell Foundation has asked the BC Registrar of Companies to determine that s.241(b) is constitutionally invalid and to provide it with corporate status. If the Registrar refuses to grant corporate status to the Farewell Foundation, the decision will be subject to judicial review.

Please visit the Farewell Foundation website: www.farewellfoundation.ca for more information.

The Farewell Foundation is represented by Jason Gratl of Gratl & Company.
Media contacts: Russel Ogden: 604-521-1110 or info@farewellfoundation.ca
Jason Gratl: 604-317-1919

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