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Make a comment about Suicide in BC
January 26, 2015
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be sure you see any updates.
The Farewell Foundation is taking the right to die to civil court in British
Columbia to allow assisted suicide.
You can find their claim on their home page.
How would you like to suffer in pain, and not be able to do something about it?
okanaganlakebc.ca feels it is unethical to be permitted to put your pet out of
its misery, but not yourself!
okanaganlakebc.ca wants the right to die. Our life should not be in the
It is not fair or ethical that other people decide our life for us!
Ogden v. British Columbia Registrar of Companies, 2011 BCSC 1151 (CanLII)
Suicide fast facts
• In BC, 346 people took their own life
in 2006; that’s almost one person every day.
• In 2006, British Columbians were at least 14 times more likely to
die from suicide than to be the victim of a homicide.
• In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60%
worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death
among those aged 15-44 years (both sexes); these figures do not
include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than
• Both the stigma attached to suicide and the likelihood that some
deaths classified as “accidents” are actually suicides contribute to
an overall underestimate of the true number of suicides each year.
Kims choice - how one family confronts a genetic time
The Globe and Mail - July 19, 2014
Get your tissues out :(
VIDEO In the Teske family, three siblings suffer from
Huntington’s and they're all handling the disease in
their own way.
Teske has chosen to starve herself to death before she’s
too ill to look after herself. ‘It’s
ridiculous to have a law so you can’t die,’ she says.
‘They’ll put our animals down, not the human
‘I have a plan’
For 10 days, Kim Teske has been refusing to eat or
drink. Her speech is garbled; she can still smoke, but
her inhalations are shallow; she is struggling to walk
and she is withdrawing into herself, as though she is
moving ahead to a place where we can’t follow, at least
At one point, she lies down for a nap in the sprawling
split-level house on the edge of Orangeville, Ont.,
where her family has gathered from halfway across the
country to say their goodbyes. One of her sisters crawls
into bed and snuggles under the duvet with her. A few
hours later, when Kim is driven back across town to her
own apartment, a brother has to carry her up the stairs.
Kim, one of six siblings and always seeming the most
vulnerable, the most childlike, wants to die. She has
Huntington’s, an incurable genetic disease that combines
aspects of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
At 52, she is still living on her own, but fears that,
if she doesn’t act now, she will end her days in an
institution with strangers pushing mush into her mouth
and hosing her down after she defecates.
“I love life and I love me, but I don’t want to live
like that,” the slight, lean woman with short dark hair
and impeccably sculpted fingernails said a few months
earlier. “And I have a plan.”
PHOTO Kim, centre, is supported by sister Marlene, left,
and sister-in-law Lynn at Dawn's house in Orangeville,
Ont., Kim stopped eating a week earlier. (Kevin Van
Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
We were sitting at the table in Kim’s sunny yellow
kitchen on a winter weekday morning. Her sisters Dawn
and Marlene nodded in agreement. Her mother, Gwen,
watched warily from the couch.
Kim’s black camisole peeked out from an unbuttoned pink
and black checked shirt tucked into her jeans, but the
effect was more boyish than voluptuous. “I wore this to
the Huntington’s fundraiser two weeks ago and I had two
fizzy drinks. They told me not to get drunk,” she
explained, in an unbridled style that I came to
recognize as Kim-speak.
The four of us could have been sitting down to a game of
euchre; instead, we were talking about the right to die.
This was new territory for the Teskes and all of them
were struggling to keep their equilibrium while
navigating its emotional, medical and legal shoals. Kim
couldn’t afford to fly to Dignitas, an assisted-suicide
clinic in Switzerland that accepts foreigners; her
doctors wouldn’t help her die; she had no legal access
to lethal drugs; and she didn’t want her family to face
criminal charges for assisting a suicide. Her only
option, as she saw it, was to starve to death, even if
most experts predicted it would take two full weeks.
“I don’t want to get anybody into trouble, but it is my
right to die.”
Under the watchful eyes of her family, I asked if she
felt any pressure from others. “No, I am pressuring
myself,” she said. “It’s my life and that is how I am
going to die. Sorry to miss Mom’s birthday, but that is
not going to happen.”
Gwen was soon to turn 80, and wished she could somehow
take her daughter’s place. “But I can’t,” she admitted,
bolstered by a lifetime of stoicism. Kim’s sisters had
pledged to support her by taking turns being with her
during her deadly fast. “She can stop any time she
wants,” said Marlene, an admissions specialist at a
community college. Dawn, a nurse at a nearby hospital,
finished the sentence: “But this is her choice.”
PHOTO Kim’s mom, Gwen, tends to her brother Brian who
also suffers from Huntington’s while Kim sits in the
background. ‘It makes me feel terrible,’ says Gwen. ‘It
should not be my children that have this, it should be
me. But we all stick together and carry on from there.’
(Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
Nobody really expected Kim to succeed. It would be too
hard, too awful a death – especially for somebody like
Kim, who loved to eat and never seemed to gain an ounce,
no matter how many helpings she consumed. She was the
sibling who didn’t make it in the academic stream in
high school and trained instead to be a barber; she was
the family jokester who delighted in sneaking up and
snapping the bra straps of her adolescent nieces; she
was the single auntie who greeted any man under 50 by
asking, “Are you married?” No matter the response, she
demanded a hug. “Give me a squeeze,” she would entreat
“I cried when Marlene told me what Kim was planning – I
couldn’t fathom it,” her brother Stuart, 54, told me in
a telephone conversation from Saskatchewan, where he
works in construction. “Kim will not do this.”
Going without nourishment when you are terminally ill
and your body is already shutting down is difficult
enough. Donald Low, the Toronto microbiologist with a
terminal brain tumour who made a video plea last year
for legalizing medically assisted dying, stopped eating
and drinking in the last stages of his life, but he was
deeply sedated and under the care of a top-notch
palliative team. Even so, he lasted nearly a week, six
days of which he couldn’t communicate with his grieving
Kim’s task was infinitely harder because she was not
dying, at least not imminently. Patients with
Huntington’s typically live with a disintegrating mind
and body up to 25 years from diagnosis. There are early–
and late-onset variants of the disease, which affects
one in every 7,000 Canadians, but most people are
diagnosed between 30 and 50.
Because Kim refused to wait for the inevitable, she was
planning her death while still of “sound mind,” as the
clinical description has it, and had the capacity to
live independently. But that didn’t mean she would go
quietly. She wanted to leave a final message supporting
the work of Dying with Dignity, a nonprofit organization
lobbying for the right to medically assisted death and
an end to the Criminal Code prohibition against
assisting a suicide.
That’s how I had heard about Kim. But this is more than
a right-to-die story. This is a story about family: how
it copes with a devastating illness that has targeted
some members and spared others, filling some with
despair, others with resignation and making someone like
Kim suicidal. It could be your family, it could be mine.
PHOTO Kim gives a nephew a kiss. The Teskes are a warm
and unpretentious family in which hugging is endemic and
nobody is a stranger for more than a minute. (Kevin Van
Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
Even before Kim’s death wish, life was hard for the
Teskes. Gwen and her husband, Larry, were from
hard-working stock – she from Saskatchewan, he from
Ontario. Larry was 42 when he died of testicular cancer,
leaving a genetic secret that lay buried for 25 years:
Huntington’s disease. Because Larry’s symptoms were
masked by cancer, nobody suspected that he may have
passed on a neurological time bomb to his children.
Back then, Gwen was more concerned about the present
than the future. “I looked into the coffin and said,
‘How do I go on from here?’ ” she remembered thinking.
“But the good Lord gives you strength,” she said. “I had
to be there for my kids.” At 39, she had six children to
support. The eldest, Brian, was 16. The youngest,
Deanna, was 9. Gwen put in long hours running a
restaurant at a truck stop to put food on the table. As
soon as they were old enough, the kids worked there on
weekends and after school.
Adversity was only part of the glue bonding the family,
whose warmth and unpretentiousness remain obvious today.
Hugging is endemic, humour is rarely barbed, no visit is
intrusive and nobody is a stranger for more than a
minute. “It’s all about my mother,” Stuart explained.
“She’s the one who held us together. She’s a rock.”
None of the kids gave Gwen any trouble. “Not real
trouble,” said Lynn Teske, who married Brian in 1978,
when he was 21 and she was 19.
They had met a few years earlier at a high-school dance,
but he had disappeared with a pal when the music
stopped. “A girlfriend and I used to drive around
Orangeville looking for him, until I found him,” she
said, laughing at her sweet-sixteen boldness. Nearly 40
years later, she still won’t let him go.
Brian had gone to high school in nearby Mayfield, but he
switched to Orangeville District Secondary School for
Grade 12, “and then we were in the same school.” For
nearly 20 years, life was busy but good. They had two
children – a son, Jason, and a daughter, Sarah – and
eventually Brian ran his own construction company with
brother Stuart, digging basements and installing septic
VIDEO Brian’s family describes how he began to change.
His hands started to shake, he became belligerent and
would make strange decisions. He was the first in the
family to be diagnosed with Huntington’s.
Everything changed as Brian approached 40. The
easygoing, laid-back guy who never swore, who never
spoke harshly or critically of others, became
unpredictably belligerent. “There was no filter,” his
wife said. “If he was thinking it, it came out.” Brian
developed strange tics, like repeatedly shrugging his
shoulders, and opening and closing his hands. One day,
when he was sitting at the kitchen table, he picked up a
glass and banged it down. After a few crashes on the
tabletop, his wife asked him to stop. Bewildered, he
asked, “Stop what?”
He also began making strange decisions, according to
Stuart, a taciturn guy who fails to hide his tender
heart and strong emotions. After 10 years in business
with his brother, Stuart quit and moved to Florida to
work with standard-bred horses. That’s where he met his
wife, Rebecca, and their teenaged daughters, Victoria
and Gabriella, were born.
Brian’s daughter tells much more graphic tales of the
changes in her funny and generous father. As a teenager,
Sarah lost count of the number of times he backed his
Dodge Ram pickup into her Mazda, a car she was buying
with her own money. “He’d put a hole right through the
hood and I would be on my knees crying and he had no
empathy at all.”
Eventually, things got so bad that the once-profitable
business went broke, the Teskes lost their home and had
to move in with relatives. Lynn finally persuaded her
husband to go to a doctor, who prescribed
antidepressants. “He walked around like he was drunk,”
she said. “It was awful.” After repeated trips to the
doctor, Brian was finally referred to a neurologist.
Having checked his reflexes and asked him to do simple
things like stick out his tongue, the specialist looked
at Brian and said, “I think you have Huntington’s
disease. I want you to consider going for a DNA test.”
Of course, Lynn immediately searched the Internet. “The
more I read, the more I knew in my heart that that was
what he had.” But denial came easily because nobody else
in the family had Huntington’s – his mother was robust,
and all his younger siblings seemed fine. Brian finally
agreed to go for DNA testing in 1997, when he was 40.
But it was another five years before he was willing to
ask for the results of the simple blood test that would
explain his increasingly bizarre physical and emotional
“He didn’t want to know,” Lynn said.
This is a common reaction. At best, one in five of those
at risk for Huntington’s are tested, because knowing
doesn’t help when you have an incurable and largely
untreatable disease. Lynn, nevertheless, tried to
persuade him. “We can’t deal with what we don’t know,”
she told Brian.
PHOTO The clan gathers, from left: Kim, brother Stuart,
sisters Marlene and Deanna, mother Gwen, brother Brian
and sister Dawn. Gwen wanted all her children across the
country to get together one last time before Kim was
gone. (Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
The entire family went to hear the results in July,
2002. By then, Brian was 45, Lynn was 43, Jason was 25
and Sarah was 22. Lynn said she remembers the doctor
saying: “You know, Brian, when I open this envelope, I
could be handing you a death sentence.” Even before the
doctor read the diagnosis, Lynn knew that it would be
positive because Brian had become that much worse.
Still, the confirmation was a shock. It took a year for
everyone in the Teske clan to accept the news and to
suspect that the disease had probably come from their
long-dead father. Five of the six Teskes already had
children; if they had Huntington’s, there was a 50-50
chance they had unwittingly passed it on – a horrifying
thought for any parent. Brian’s daughter spent years
obsessing about the disease, but refused to be tested.
“I didn’t want a death sentence. I didn’t want to know
at 24, 25 or 26 that I was going to be dying of
Huntington’s,” Sarah said.
But that didn’t mean she didn’t worry: “If my arm had a
twitch, I would think that was it.” She reached a point
where the tension was so grinding that she realized
knowing was better than not knowing. By then, she had
decided that, if she were positive, she wouldn’t have
children, although there is now a complicated and costly
in vitro fertilization procedure that tests embryos and
implants only those that are free of Huntington’s.
Finally, in July, 2008, on a day Sarah could only
describe in superlatives as “the best of her life,” she
learned she was negative. Now, she is married and the
mother of two small children.
How Huntington’s has passed through the Teske family
GRAPHIC There is a 50-50 chance of passing on
Huntington’s. After Brian was diagnosed, the family
suspected that the disease had probably been passed
through Larry, their long dead father whose symptoms
would have been masked by cancer. Their mother, Gwen,
has never been tested but at 80 shows no symptoms.
(Carrie Cockburn/The Globe and Mail)
On the same day Sarah found out she had won the genetic
lottery, her aunt phoned home from Regina to say she had
lost. Deanna, the youngest of the Teske siblings, had
tested positive. Her daughters, Chantelle and Shelby,
were in Ontario visiting their grandmother and extended
family. But before they even had a chance to celebrate
with their older cousin, they had to grapple with the
horror of their mother’s diagnosis, which was
potentially their own. That is how Huntington’s works:
It is a capricious disease, sparing some and skewering
others, like a fickle finger of fate.
Deanna will tell you now that she wasn’t surprised to
learn she had it. The year before, when she had gone
back to Ontario to celebrate Brian’s 50th birthday, she
already had a strange tingling in her fingers and toes,
and some jerky movements.
Her brother pressed her to find out for certain, so she
went for testing after she returned to Saskatchewan. The
process was gruelling, partly because her marriage was
going through a rough patch. Her husband, Mike Smith,
another salt-of-the-earth type who’s a carpenter and a
partner in a small construction firm, was “grumpy,” she
confided to me on speaker phone from her kitchen in
Regina. “I didn’t need that when I was going through
getting the results.” So she kicked him out. They went
for marriage counselling and eventually reconciled. “He
is very supportive and he loves me a lot,” she said. “I
Deanna can no longer work as a hairdresser, manage
simple tasks like holding a telephone receiver or speak
without slurring some of her words. Yet, she radiates
cheerfulness, even as her arms flail about like an
aberrant windmill. It’s as though she got an overdose of
chorea (the involuntary movements that typically
accompany Huntington’s) and escaped the depression and
belligerence that are also characteristics of the
She’s “good” with older sister Kim wanting to end her
life, but that’s not for her. “I want to live till my
dying day,” she said, even if that means being
incapacitated in a nursing home. “I am happy and I am in
love with my husband and I could never imagine ending my
Most of the Teskes long suspected that Kim also had
Huntington’s. Deanna said that Brian kept “bugging Kim
to get tested” because there were doctors and programs
that could monitor the symptoms and ease some of them.
But Kim was in denial and, Deanna added, may have gone
west a decade ago to escape family pressure. After
working for close to 20 years as a barber not far from
Orangeville in Alton, she settled near an aunt in
PHOTO Kim and her sister Deanna in bed at Dawn's home in
Orangeville, Ont. Both have Huntington’s but while Kim
wants to die before it advances, Deanna is set on
living. Their family is supportive of both their
approaches to dealing with the disease. (Kevin Van
Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
A few years later, though, Kim could no longer cut hair
and was working behind the counter in a delicatessen –
until even that job became too stressful. “There were
times when she was overhearing customers say, ‘Oh, my
gosh, I think she is drunk,’ ” younger sister Marlene
“Brian had it and so did Deanna, and I was hoping and
praying I didn’t have it, too,” Kim told me the first
time we met. She was finally tested in 2008, the summer
of reckoning for the Teske family. She was 47. Sisters
Dawn and Marlene flew out to B.C. to bring her back to
Ontario. A year later, she could no longer drive or
handle simple tasks. Though she technically lived
independently, her mother and Ontario sisters hovered
Of the six siblings, only Dawn and Marlene haven’t been
tested. They believe they have been spared because, in
their 50s, they are still symptom-free. Stuart was at
risk of losing his workplace life insurance until he
tested negative. “I knew I didn’t have it because I had
no symptoms, but I did the test for my kids.” Does he
feel bad that he and his family are safe, while three of
his siblings are doomed? “No,” he said. “It bothers me
that they’ve go it, but I’m glad that I don’t.” As for
Dawn and Marlene, they don’t have time to feel guilty.
Besides full-time jobs and their own families, they are
at ground zero, helping to care for their afflicted
siblings, including Brian.
At 57, Brian lives in a long-term-care facility. He
can’t walk or feed himself, his speech is almost
incomprehensible and he frequently chokes on his puréed
food. Lynn drives to the nursing home on her way from
work, bringing him an Iced Capp from Tim Hortons as a
treat before she spoonfeeds him dinner.
Kim, who visits once a week, has watched her brother
deteriorate. “I don’t want to live like that. It is very
important for me not to do that,” she said on the second
day of her fast. “I’ve never married, so I am making the
decision for myself. It would be harder if I had
VIDEO Deanna’s daughter Chantelle, right, tested
positive for Huntington’s and, although she wanted
children, she ultimately decided against having any. ‘I
don’t know if I could willingly’ pass the disease on,
No matter what Kim does, the disease won’t stop with
this generation of Teskes. Deanna’s daughter Chantelle
tested positive last year, at 24. “I think deep down
inside herself, she knew,” her mother said. “At least
that is what she told the counsellor.” Deanna felt worse
for her daughter than she does for herself. “I cried and
I cried and I cried and I felt guilty,” she admitted.
“And then I decided that’s not fair,” she said, her
sunny disposition rising to the surface. “I shouldn’t
feel that way. It is a fifty-fifty situation. I hope she
can be like me, or maybe there will be something to stop
the movements or cure the disease when her signs show
Chantelle tried for a brave face when I met her and
younger sister Shelby at the Smiths’ bungalow in Regina.
The two girls were nestled like cats on their parents’
chesterfield. Outside the picture window, a city crew
was cleaning up fallen trees from a brutal winter.
“When you don’t know,” Chantelle said, “it is always on
your mind.” At the time of her diagnosis, she was
married and debating whether to have children. “He
really wanted kids,” she recalled, as tears began to
flow. While they were trying, she tried to rationalize
the decision: “If I do have a kid and he has
Huntington’s,” she told herself, “there will be a cure
by then.” Ultimately, she realized she could not
knowingly pass the disease on to a child; she went for
testing. Her husband supported her decision, she said,
insisting that Huntington’s didn’t break up her
marriage, which ended earlier this year. Now, she is
between jobs and living at home. “My life is kind of
Bizarrely, a municipal wood chopper began to devour a
downed tree outside the window, and we all started to
laugh. The tension broken, Chantelle summoned her
bravado. “I just want to be happy more than anything
else in the whole entire world,” she said, her chin
rising. “In my family, it has been around 40 when people
start showing signs. I’m 25 now, so I figure I have
about 15 years.” That’s not to say she was giving up. “I
hope and pray every day that they can find something to
stop it, so at least I can have a chance to live.”
PHOTO Art work is displayed on Kim's fridge. She has no
children but the disease has already reached the next
generation of Teskes. (Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe
Both young women look to their mother for inspiration.
“The best person in the world as a role model,”
Chantelle said. “My mother is dealing with it
amazingly,” Shelby added. “She is always happy and ready
to throw optimism your way.”
By contrast, Shelby said, her aunt took the diagnosis
“really hard.” She understands Kim’s choice and said she
“would probably do the same thing.” That may be why
Shelby has refused so far to be tested. “I would dwell
on it a lot more than I do not knowing,” she predicted.
“I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, right?”
Brian’s son, Jason, hasn’t been tested, either. He is
married and living in Calgary, but has no children. Some
family members – all of them adept at recognizing
telltale signs – fear he has inherited the genetic short
straw. His mother is waiting it out. “It preys on my
mind a lot,” she said. “He is 36 years old and, in four
years, I am going to know just by looking at him.”
The pain in her voice was almost audible as she
described the possibility of her son having the same
disease as his father. For anyone whose family has been
plagued by Huntington’s, watching for symptoms is almost
as harrowing as the fate they herald.
“Between 10 and 20 years to complete the course,”
novelist Ian McEwan writes of the disease’s inexorable
march in Saturday, “from the first small alterations of
character, tremors in the hands and face, emotional
disturbance, including – most notably – sudden,
uncontrollable alterations of mood, the helpless jerky
dance-like movements, intellectual dilapidation, memory
failure, agnosia, apraxia, dementia, total loss of
muscular control rigidity sometimes, nightmarish
hallucinations and a meaningless end. This is how the
brilliant machinery of being is undone by the tiniest of
faulty cogs, the insidious whisper of ruin, a single bad
idea lodged in every cell, on every chromosome four.”
PHOTO Kim gives Brian a kiss. He now lives in a nursing
home, a fate that she is determined to avoid. (Kevin Van
Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
There was a time when Brian wanted to end his life. “He
always said he was not going to live in a nursing home,”
Lynn said, “that when it got to the point where he
needed someone to wipe his bum, he didn’t want to be
here.” But somehow, he never found the means or the
opportunity. He waited too long, some of his siblings
will say quietly.
“I’m here to help you through the disease but not to end
your life,” Lynn remembered the doctor saying in
response to Brian’s entreaties. Although grateful for
the medical care, the treatment programs and the help
from family – for years, Gwen spent one day a week with
Brian, feeding him lunch, taking him for drives and
doing the family laundry – she wishes there was more
home care available. “If you have lots of money to pay
somebody to come in, you are fine. But if you don’t, you
are euchred,” she said.
There was a crisis in the summer of 2012. They had a
hospital bed in the kitchen, but the bathroom was
upstairs and Brian was falling a lot. Sometimes, so was
Lynn, trying to keep him balanced as she propelled him
up and down the stairs. That October, Brian moved to the
nursing home, where he is by far the youngest male
patient. Eventually, he won’t be able to swallow mush
and he will either choke to death or he will be put on a
feeding tube. Lynn doesn’t think he wants that, but she
isn’t certain. “He has a son and a daughter and he has
grandchildren,” she said. “And then there is his mom and
his sisters. He has a lot of family around him.” What
she doesn’t say, but which is obvious to anybody who has
seen them together, is that he is still gobsmacked in
love with the girl he met at a high-school dance.
PHOTO Kim is comforted by sister Marlene. After not
eating for over a week, she struggles to walk and seems
as though she is withdrawing into herself. (Kevin Van
Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
Kim picked April 25 to start her fast. She figured that
spring would have arrived, not a certainty given the
hard Ontario winter, and that she would be done by her
birthday, May 9. “I will take the movement drugs,” she
told me in February. The medication helps to ease her
chorea, allowing her to sleep at night. “So we will take
them and I will sleep and we are going to have fun at 18
Faulkner,” she said, referring to her apartment.
“Marlene and Dawn are going to be here, and I told God I
would jump out of the window and meet him.”
Two months later, she sits on the edge of her bed,
smoking cigarettes – the Teskes are like chimneys when
it comes to nicotine – and looks out the second-floor
window at the oak tree in the front yard. It is her
talisman. Kim believes she will be resurrected after her
ordeal and come back as part of the tree’s towering
presence. Whether she is saying that to reassure herself
or her family is moot. It is the mantra that sustains
her day after day of refusing food and sipping only
enough water to swallow her medication.
Both Ontario sisters have taken time off work, made sure
that Kim’s do-not-resuscitate form is prominently
displayed on the refrigerator, gone with her to a local
general practitioner (who has refused to help Kim die)
and applied for palliative and personal care for their
Then Gwen, the matriarch, who has been watching and
smoking for months, intervenes. She can’t stop Kim from
killing herself, but she can gather all her children
together one last time. She summons her younger son
first. “It was an awful expense, but it was worth it,”
she tells me later. Stuart is the catalyst who makes the
reunion happen. He comes twice from Saskatchewan, once
by himself and again with Deanna. Nobody has told Lynn
or Brian what Kim is doing because they fear it may
upset him, but Stuart breaks that well-meaning code soon
after he and Deanna land in Toronto, on day seven of
Kim’s fast. Lynn is glad he did, saying her husband knew
something was up. “He has Huntington’s, but he’s not
For the first time since they celebrated their mother’s
75th birthday five years earlier, the Teske clan,
including Brian in his chair, congregate at Dawn’s house
on the outskirts of Orangeville. The place is a
multi-generational jumble of kids, friends, food,
instant coffee (with an occasional shot of Bailey’s) and
frequent trips to the garage, where the smokers gather
around an old wood stove to trade anecdotes and josh
Dawn’s partner, Paul Omrode, about the two gleaming
Harleys parked in front of the door, patiently
anticipating a summer romp.
PHOTO Dawn wets Kim’s lips as Marlene looks on. Kim has
been drinking nothing except enough water to take her
medications. (Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
The fast could stop if Kim changes her mind, or if the
authorities step in. But nobody makes a move, waiting
like bystanders at a traffic accident. It is horrible to
watch, especially seeing the suffering in Gwen’s face as
she chain smokes in the garage.
Before Stuart and Deanna head back to the airport,
knowing they will probably not see their sister again,
the siblings gather to plant a burning bush outside
Kim’s apartment. She is now too weak to walk to the
window. A visiting palliative-care nurse thinks it will
be several more days, but Kim has other plans. She dies
peacefully, with none of the delirium or agitation that
some watchers had anticipated, around noon on day 12 of
the fast, with Dawn by her side. When the police are
summoned, along with emergency services, they decline to
lay charges. It is three days before Kim’s target date.
PHOTO Gwen says goodbye to Kim at an Orangeville funeral
home on her daughter's 53rd birthday. She died three
days earlier. (Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
Half of Orangeville seems to have gathered for Kim’s
memorial celebration on May 9, her 53rd birthday. There
is food, caffeine, flowers and a slide show documenting
her life, from baby pictures to horsing around with
nieces and nephews. Nothing has been air-brushed,
including a picture taken the day before she died,
looking gaunt and focused on the camera as a niece gives
her a hug.
There are lots of extemporaneous speakers, but Marlene’s
husband, Marty Olson, a big, tough former cop, is the
closest to an official eulogist. He cheers the mourners
with the familiar story about Kim demanding a squeeze
from anybody in trousers and short back and sides. Then
his voice cracks as he describes her at Easter, the
weekend before beginning her fast. Knowing how much Kim
loved to eat, he was making her a hearty breakfast while
she sat outside on the deck having a smoke. The window
was open and he could hear Kim speaking to herself.
Instead of calling her a dork – one of her own favourite
putdowns – he listened and heard her say: “God, I am
ready to go. Do you have a bed for me?”
That was the moment he knew she was serious, a
realization that had come to all of them at different
moments. “I don’t know how she did it,” Lynn Teske said
after the funeral. “I still can’t get over that she
followed through and for 12 days she didn’t touch
anything: food, drink, nothing. It was amazing.”
PHOTO A photo of Kim on the fridge at sister Dawn's
home. The oak in the photo was Kim’s special tree.
(Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
Kim, the most childlike Teske, has given them all a
lesson in courage. She achieved her goal: to die on her
own terms. That is a legacy nobody can deny. Whether it
will help change the law, however, is beyond her
The only certainty is that family has prevailed. “It
hasn’t been easy, but you have to stick together and
carry on from there,” her mother concludes. When the
Teskes gather in July to celebrate Gwen’s 80th birthday,
Kim is not forgotten. They mourn again.
– Toronto author Sandra Martin is currently working on a
book for HarperCollins about the right-to-die movement
in Canada and around the world. She was a Globe and Mail
staff member for 16 years, known both for her reporting
on the publishing industry and as a noted obituary
writer. Her most recent book, Great Canadian Lives: A
Cultural History of Modern Canada through the Art of the
Obit (House of Anansi), has just appeared in paperback.
– An acclaimed photographer, Kevin Van Paassen also
spent a decade on The Globe and Mail staff, covering
everything from Canada’s health-care system and the 2012
Summer Games in London to the war in Afghanistan, before
launching his freelance career in Toronto.
|This came by email so there is no link:
Members and Supporters,
Best wishes for 2013! Here are three items of interest:
1. Farewell Foundation Factum Filed in BC Court of Appeal
The federal government’s appeal of Carter v. Attorney General of
Canada is scheduled to be heard March 4th to 8th in Vancouver. Among
the intervener groups, Farewell Foundation is the only right-to-die
organization to participate. Our factum was filed on December 24,
2012. The factum argues that the government’s interest in protecting
vulnerable persons is compatible with the freedom to choose how and
when to die. We contend that there is no reason that police,
prosecutors, and judges cannot reliably distinguish whether a
decision to end one’s life is informed and free from undue influence
and coercion. Farewell Foundation says that an absolute prohibition
of assisted suicide is not necessary and that an exception should be
permitted for those who are capable of informed decision and who are
not unduly influenced or coerced. The full factum is available at
2. Plans for a Rally in March at BC Court of Appeal
One of our supporters is wishing to organize a rally to support end
of life choices. Many of us will recall the Euthanasia Prevention
Coalition’s demonstration at the courthouse steps at the start of
the Carter trial. Galina Coffey-Lewis is requesting ideas and help
with organizing a rally in support of the right to choose. Please
contact Galina at 1-250-386-7772 or jglewis "at" telus.net.
3. New Study on Scottish Organization, Friends at the End (FATE)
Sociologist Naomi Richards of Edinburgh has authored a new academic
paper the right-to-die movement in the U.K.. The article is
published in the International Journal of Aging and Later Life and
is available at this link:
Title: The Fight to Die: Older People and Death Activism, by Naomi
Abstract: This article explores the activities and convictions of
older right-to-die activists who belong to a small but very active
interest group based in Scotland, UK, called Friends at the End
(FATE). The analysis presented here is based on knowledge gained
through seventeen months of ethnographic research with the
organisation. While FATE activists currently campaign for a legal
right to a medically assisted death, many are also open to taking
matters into their own hands, either by travelling to the Swiss
organisation Dignitas or by opting for what is known as
‘‘self-deliverance’’. FATE members’ openness to different means of
securing a hastened death contrasts sharply with the more limited
demands of the UK’s main right-to-die organisation, Dignity in
Dying, and highlights their specific orientation to freedom, which,
it is argued here, results from the organisation’s older
The FAREWELL FOUNDATION Team
322 – 720 6th Street
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3C5 Canada
Email: info "at" farewellfoundation.ca
|December 10, 2012
There is no link because this came by email:
Greetings Farewell Members and Supporters,
Today we report three items of interest.
1. Farewell Foundation’s Winter Newsletter is online:
Page 1 Constitutional Challenge in Ireland
Page 2 What’s the Law in Montana?
Las Vegas Man Sentenced for Importing Barbiturates from Mexico
Page 3 EXIT International Workshop in Vancouver
Page 4 Book Review of Dick Côté’s In Search of Gentle Death
Page 5 In Memorium, Gloria Taylor
Page 6 Film Review of A Good Death (Dutch)
The Suicide Plan (PBS)
Page 7 Gabriola Islanders Welcome Farewell Foundation
Page 8 Farewell House Update
History: 1905, Canada’s 1st Aiding Suicide Charge
2. Farewell Foundation Granted Intervenor Standing in Appeal of
Carter v. Attorney General of Canada
Today, Farewell Foundation was granted intervenor standing in the
Attorney General of Canada’s appeal of a BC court ruling that
Canada’s prohibition against aiding suicide is unconstitutional. The
Appeal is scheduled for March, 2013. Farewell Foundation is the only
right to die organization to participate in the BC Court of Appeal
case. Farewell was also an intervener at the previous trial in the
In her ruling today, Madam Justice Neilson allowed seven of eight
applicants leave to intervene in Carter v. Attorney General of
Canada. The intervenors who were allowed standing are: the Farewell
Foundation for the Right to Die, Alliance of People with
Disabilities Who are Supportive of Legal-Assisted Dying Society,
Canadian Unitarian Council, Christian Legal Fellowship, Evangelical
Fellowship Of Canada, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and the
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – British Columbia, and Council of
Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for
Margaret Dore, an American lawyer, was dismissed on grounds that she
had an insufficient representative base and her proposed submissions
would not be of assistance to the Court.
Documents of interest to the case can be read here:
Farewell Foundation Memorandum of Argument and Affidavit of Russel
Ogden for Application to Intervene
The BC Court of Appeal Ruling on the Intervenor Applications
3. Québec Update: Leblanc v. Attorney General
The case of Ginette Leblanc from Trois-Riviéres, Québec, was
originally scheduled to start December 12th. It is now postponed to
March 25, 2013 for 4 days. Reporting on behalf of Association
Quebecoise Pour le Droit Mourir dans Dignite, Robert Senet says the
change in schedule came about as a result of a late intervention by
the Québec Bar Association and the need to accommodate the Bar’s
pleadings. It is said that Ms Leblanc’s counsel was also in favour
of the postponement.
The FAREWELL FOUNDATION Team
322 – 720 6th Street
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3C5 Canada
Email: info "at" farewellfoundation.ca
Assisted suicide crusader Gloria Taylor dies in B.C.
CBC News - Oct 5, 2012
was sudden and unexpected and due to a severe infection
Gloria Taylor, 64, died Thursday from a severe infection, reports
The 64 year-old B.C. woman who fought to change Canada’s law on
physician-assisted suicide has died from a severe infection,
according to an advocacy group that helped her with a landmark court
Gloria Taylor, who suffered from the degenerative illness ALS, or
Lou Gehrig's disease, died Thursday from a perforated colon, the
B.C. Civil Liberties Association said in a release Friday.
Taylor, of Westbank, B.C., was the lead plaintiff in the BCCLA’s
death with dignity lawsuit before the B.C. Supreme Court, which
ruled in June that the law was unconstitutional.
The judge in the case also granted Taylor a personal exemption
allowing her the right to seek a physician-assisted death.
BCCLA spokeswoman Grace Pastine said Taylor’s death was sudden and
unexpected and due to a severe infection.
“Gloria’s death was quick and peaceful and she was spared from the
prolonged death from ALS that she dreaded and which inspired her
participation in the lawsuit,” Pastine said.
The release did not say where Taylor died.
Judge upholds woman's right to die
Castanet.net - by The
Canadian Press - Story: 78958 - Aug 10, 2012
Photo: The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
Gloria Taylor is shown in Vancouver, on Monday June 18, 2012. Taylor
who won a personal exemption from Canada's ban on doctor-assisted
suicide will keep that right as the case makes its way through the
province's Appeal Court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Gloria Taylor's right to avoid a "frightening and repugnant" death
in the clutches of Lou Gehrig's disease shouldn't be sacrificed
because the courts have yet to decide the fate of Canada's
doctor-assisted suicide ban, a judge ruled Friday as she upheld the
British Columbia woman's personal exemption from the law.
The woman from West Kelowna, who was diagnosed with ALS three years
ago and whose health continues to deteriorate, was among the
plaintiffs in a landmark case that saw the B.C. Supreme Court strike
down Canada's ban on doctor-assisted suicide as unconstitutional.
While the court suspended its decision, Taylor was granted an
immediate exemption, making her the only person in Canada who can
legally die with the help of a doctor.
The federal government launched an appeal of that decision and also
asked the Appeal Court to revoke Taylor's exemption until the case
However, Justice Jo-Ann Prowse ruled Friday that taking away
Taylor's exemption would cause her irreparable harm, outweighing the
interests of the federal government and the public in preventing a
single case of doctor-assisted suicide.
"I accept that the exemption has important symbolic and, perhaps,
psychological, value, which extends beyond Ms. Taylor to those who
are similarly situated, whether or not they agree with the decision
under appeal," Justice Jo-Ann Prowse wrote in a decision released
"She may be a symbol, but she is also a person," the judge continued
later, "and I do not find that it is necessary for the individual to
be sacrificed to a concept of the 'greater good,' which may, or may
not, be fully informed."
In June, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the current law violates the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The judge in the case concluded the
law must allow physician-assisted suicide in cases involving
patients who are diagnosed with a serious illness or disability and
who are experiencing "intolerable" physical or psychological
suffering with no chance of improvement.
Taylor has said she's made no decisions about ending her life. She
has yet to take any formal steps to use her exemption, which would
require an application to the B.C. Supreme Court, her lawyer, Sheila
Tucker, confirmed Friday.
"She will be delighted" with the decision, Tucker said in an
"We're particularly pleased with the fact that the court was very
cognisant of the fact that, for Gloria, it really is a case of
irreparable harm, because she'll either get to use that exemption
and have the value of that exemption now or she never will."
In the Appeal Court ruling, Prowse noted Taylor, who in January 2010
was told she had one year to live, may not survive to see the end of
the case, which is almost certainly destined for the Supreme Court
If the exemption were removed and Taylor's health continued to
decline, "all of her worst fears would be realized and she would be
forced to endure the very death which she has fought so assiduously
to avoid," wrote Prowse.
The B.C. Supreme Court decision was suspended for one year to give
Parliament time to fix the law, but the Appeal Court has extended
that suspension until after it renders its decision.
The appeal is expected to be heard next spring.
If the case ends up before the Supreme Court of Canada, it won't be
the first time the country's highest court has tackled the issue of
The court heard a case two decades ago involving Sue Rodriguez, who
also had ALS and wanted help from a doctor to end her life. The
court ruled against her in 1993, though she killed herself anyway
with the help of an unidentified physician the following year.
Assisted suicide decision
Castanet.net - by The Canadian Press - Story:
76605 - Jun 15, 2012
A B.C. Supreme Court has ruled the laws banning doctor-assisted
suicide are unconstitutional.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith declared the laws invalid, but
also suspended her ruling for one year to give Parliament time to
draft legislation with her ruling in mind.
Smith also granted Gloria Taylor an exemption in her ruling,
allowing the ailing West Kelowna, B.C., woman to seek a
physician-assisted suicide during the period her ruling is suspended
if she wants.
In a 395-page ruling, Smith says the provisions in the Charter of
Rights unjustifiably infringe on Taylor's rights to life, liberty
and security of persons.
She says the laws are discriminatory for those who are grievously
ill or physically disabled who want to have some control over their
circumstances at the end of their lives.
While Smith says risks exist to allowing doctor-assisted suicide,
but they can be largely avoided through carefully-designed and
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 74847 - May
Did you know we kill ourselves far more often than we kill each
other? It’s true. Suicide rates in Canada are approximately 10 times
higher than homicide rates – and the numbers are similar in the US.
This is often surprising since we don’t hear much about suicide.
News agencies don’t cover many deaths by suicide unless they occur
as part of a crime and even families affected by suicide often cover
it up from shame or grief.
Suicide kills roughly 12 in every 100,000 people in Canada and a
much larger number attempt it unsuccessfully. Still, most Canadians
live without much awareness of this killer in our midst.
Psychiatric researchers and practitioners do know the vast majority
of suicides occur as a result of untreated or improperly managed
mental illness. As such, many tragic deaths could be prevented if
proper care were available, accessible and sought after by those
experiencing mental illness.
Two studies published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggest
treatment of depression either with therapy or drugs reduces the
risk of suicide in all age groups and especially during the first
months of treatment.
Both studies showed a decrease in suicide attempts after beginning
treatment – regardless of the individual’s age.
Treatment does save lives when it is used. Unfortunately, the
ongoing stigma surrounding mental illness prevents many people from
seeking help and also often stops family members of suicide victims
from speaking out about their loved one’s death.
When suicide remains an unaddressed taboo subject, it can become a
cycle. People who lose a loved one to suicide are at five times the
risk of committing suicide themselves. Bringing suicide out of the
shadows and talking about it openly will increase awareness and
support from the community, which in turn could save lives
Since the World Health Organization predicts depression will be the
second most common disabling condition in the world by the year
2020, now is the time to make sure we know how to detect it and seek
Depression is more than feeling sad. Symptoms do include a depressed
mood, but also include feelings of helplessness and hopelessness; a
loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable; social
withdrawal; appetite changes; sleep disturbance; and increased
Signs that a loved one may be at risk of suicide include: previous
suicide attempt(s); mental health conditions, in particular mood
disorders; combined mental health and substance abuse issues; family
history of suicide; hopelessness or helplessness; impulsive or
aggressive tendencies; barriers to accessing mental health services;
loss; stressful life event; access to lethal methods; unwillingness
to seek help because of stigma; exposure to suicide (family, peers,
significant others); physical, emotional or sexual abuse; legal
issues, arrests or incarceration; or sexual identity conflict.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the above risk
factors, are feeling overwhelming helplessness or despair or are
feeling suicidal for any reason, seek help. Talk to someone you
trust and enlist the aid of a professional. Don’t wait.
|This came by email so there is not link to where this
information came from, but it did come from the Farewell Foundation.
Greetings Farewell Foundation members and supporters. Here is a
short update to keep you informed:
Carter Case Back in BC Supreme Court, April 16, 2012
The parties in the Carter et al are back in BC Supreme Court on
Monday April 16th. The purpose is to provide Madam Justice Smith
with submissions about the impact of the appeal decision concerning
the Bedford case in Ontario. The Bedford decision addressed the
constitutionality of Canada’s laws against bawdy houses and
communicating for the purposes of prostitution. The Bedford decision
considered matters of exploitation and harm, which are also
considerations in the context of assisted death decisions.
Therefore, Madam Justice Smith has asked that the parties in Carter
provide her with submissions to help her consider how the Bedford
ruling may impact her pending ruling in Carter.
Quebec Parliamentary Commission Report on Dying with Dignity
On March 22nd the Quebec National Assembly’s delivered its
long-awaited report, Mourir dans la dignité (Dying with Dignity).
News headlines and many commentators said that the report
recommended legalizing assisted suicide, but that was not the case
at all. In fact, the Quebec report recommended that doctors should
be permitted to perform euthanasia or “medical aid in dying” in
exceptional circumstances, and it was expressly against assisted
suicide. At a press conference, committee member Mme Hivon clarified
why the report came out against assisted suicide: “[W]e reject
(assisted suicide) because we feel that the society put so much
effort and so much emphasis on the importance to fight for life and
to fight against suicide that we cannot send contradictory
The Quebec report was presented as a progressive and important
“first” provincial initiative in Canada. The full report in French
and an English summary of the recommendations is available at the
Quebec National Assembly website:
Interestingly, both the Quebec report and commentators on it
appeared to forget that more than 20 years ago a BC Royal Commission
approved of what it believed was widespread support for the right to
die with dignity. The 1991 report, Closer to Home, was the work of a
BC Royal Commission on Health Care and Costs, chaired by Justice
Peter Seaton. Under the heading of “Requested Mercy Killing” the
Royal Commission recommended that the BC government ask the federal
government to amend the Criminal Code so that physicians could
prescribe, and health care workers could administer, pain relief
medication in a fatal dose. Under the heading of “Assisted Suicide”
the Royal Commission recommended that the BC government ask the
federal government to amend the Criminal Code so that s.241(b) would
not apply to situations where health care workers assist in the
suicides of terminally patients, as long as such assistance complied
with professional ethical standards.
The BC Royal Commission recommendations were shelved. It is an open
question whether the Quebec recommendations will have a similar
Debates on “Medically Assisted Dying” Sponsored by Centre For
The Centre for Inquiry is supporting a series of debates on the
topic, “Should Medical Assisted Dying be Legal?” Farewell Foundation
believes that assistance to die is not necessarily something that
only doctors can do, and it advocates the de-medicalized approach
used in Switzerland. Tonight, April 12 at 7:00 p.m., Wanda Morris of
Dying with Dignity Canada debates Dr. Will Johnston of the
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at SFU Harbourside Campus (Room
1900). Additional debates this month are in Kamloops (April 18),
Kelowna (April 19) and Calgary (April 21). Contact info "at"
dyingwithdignity.ca for details.
Woman pleads for the legal right to die
Castanet.net - by The Canadian Press - Story:
67941 - Nov 30, 2011
Gloria Taylor is pushed in a wheel chair by her sister Patty
Ferguson as they arrive for a news conference in downtown Vancouver,
B.C. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
An emotional plea has been made by an ailing West Kelowna woman
who's gone to court seeking the right to a doctor-assisted suicide.
Gloria Taylor, who has Lou Gehrig's disease, told reporters in
Vancouver she doesn't want to die, but she also doesn't want to die
an agonizing and horrible death.
The right-to-die challenge in B.C. Supreme Court has been hearing
expert evidence for two weeks and the plaintiffs case will open
Taylor was near tears as she talked of a friend's recent gruesome
death, saying it wasn't peaceful nor dignified, and she doesn't want
to die that way.
In the 18 years since Sue Rodriguez challenged the laws, Taylor says
the beliefs of Canadians have changed and it's way past time for the
law to change.
Taylor says she's fighting so that all the people of Canada will
have the choice in the way they want to die.
|This came by email, so there is no link
Foundation Members and Supporters.
National Post, Tom Blackwell reporting December 29, 2011,
67 Percent of Canadians Support
Legalizing Assisted Suicide: Poll
More than two-thirds of Canadians support making it legal for
doctors to help the terminally ill kill themselves, a new poll
suggests as the assisted-suicide issue once again provokes heated
debate across the country. Advocates on both sides of the question
say the findings from a Forum Research survey are no surprise, but
argue public opinion should not be the guiding force in deciding
whether to change the current law, now under scrutiny in a closely
watched B.C. court case.
Supporters of legalizing the practice maintain it is a matter of
basic human rights that transcends popular attitudes; opponents say
Canadians' beliefs would change if care at the end of life were
improved and death made more comfortable. The poll of 1,160 adults,
conducted Dec. 13, indicated that 67% of respondents favoured
legalizing physician-assisted suicide of terminally ill patients.
Support varied from 60% in the Prairie provinces to 81% in Quebec.
"It's a pretty high number," Lorne Boznikoff, president of
Toronto-based Forum, said Thursday. "You don't often find that many
Canadians agreeing on anything…. The public seems to be way ahead
[of government] on this issue."
The question was asked just after the start of a B.C. Supreme Court
challenge of the law by Gloria Taylor, who suffers from amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. She says she is
unable to look after even her most basic bodily functions and wants
the right to end her life with a doctor’s help.
The case revisits a question famously adjudicated by the courts
almost 20 years ago, when Sue Rodriguez, another Lou Gehrig’s
sufferer, made a similar constitutional assault on the legislation.
She eventually lost at the Supreme Court of Canada, but later did
commit suicide with the aid of an unidentified physician.
Further stirring the pot is the report issued last month by a panel
of bio-ethicists and other experts appointed by the Royal Society of
Canada, the nation's premier scholarly academy. That group
recommended the Criminal Code be amended to allow assisted suicide,
as is already the case in countries like the Netherlands and
Switzerland and in three U.S. states.
The Forum poll's results mirror those of similar surveys in the last
two or three years, said Russel Ogden of the Farewell Foundation,
which advocates for the right to get help in ending life.
"Twenty years ago Sue Rodriguez asked 'Who owns my life?' And most
Canadians would answer that question with 'I do,' " he said. "It's
as simple as that."
In the B.C. case, federal lawyers spoke in defence of the current
"absolute prohibition" against all forms of assisted suicide, but
the government should not change its stance based solely on the
weight of public opinion, said Mr. Ogden. Polls generally show that
Canadians favour capital punishment, too, but that does not justify
bringing back the death penalty, he argued.
"We maintain it's a basic human right," Mr. Ogden said about
Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition said his
organization's own polling has come up with similar results, but
noted that more detailed surveys show that the bulk of those who
favour assisted suicide only "somewhat" support the idea, rather
than strongly back it.
Plus, even those who favour the practice express concerns about it
being abused, with vulnerable people essentially killed against
their will, he said.
The whole debate would be changed if the quality of services
provided to people at the end of their lives - from palliative care
to nursing homes - was improved and those final days were more often
made less painful, uncomfortable and undignified, said Mr.
"Canadians really do fear dying in painful situations, or having an
unacceptable death experience," he said. "Guess what? I don’t want
to die that way either. And I don't think it's a necessary way to
die in our culture today."
The assisted-suicide question was part of an omnibus poll conducted
by Forum, considered accurate to within 2.9 percentage points, 19
times out of 20.
A pdf file with the survey results by Canada’s regions can be read
at the Farewell Foundation’s blog:
|This came by email so there is no link.
This Farewell Foundation Report covers the Carter Trial December
8 - 13, 2011
Day 16-19: Thursday December 8 – 13, 2011: The Defendant’s Arguments
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA
Donnaree Nygard presented Canada’s position over the course of three
and a half days. When she was finished, George Copley presented the
argument for the Attorney General of BC on the afternoon of December
Ms Nygard explained to the court that she did not have time to write
a short argument, so she was providing a long one -- 198 pages. She
said that the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia is an
“incredibly difficult policy issue” and expressed shock at the
previous day’s submissions by the interveners, in particular the
Farewell Foundation. She said that while Canada appreciated that the
Farewell Foundations rights-based analysis of autonomy was a
principled position, the Carter plaintiffs were not seeking an
autonomy right. Rather, Carter was asking for a policy change for
people suffering grievous and irremediable illness. Such a policy,
she said, was the responsibility of parliament and not the courts.
Nygard’s first argument was that the doctrine of stare decisis does
not permit the Court to reconsider the prohibition against assisted
suicide since the Supreme Court of Canada found that the prohibition
is constitutional and in accordance with the principles of
fundamental justice. In Rodriguez the SCC rejected the claim that a
terminally ill person has a right to assistance to suicide, even
when the person is suffering and cannot do so without assistance.
Canada says the Rodriguez ruling is binding on the Court and that
should be the end of the matter.
The Attorney General of Canada also says that the blanket
prohibition on assisted suicide and euthanasia is still the norm in
Western democracies and while the plaintiffs say there is a trend
toward the decriminalization or legalisation of assisted suicide and
euthanasia, this is not actually the case. While some jurisdictions
have allowed assisted suicide or euthanasia since the Rodriguez
ruling, Canada says that “many more Western jurisdictions have
rejected attempts to legalise assisted suicide or euthanasia or have
actually enacted legislation to strengthen or re-affirm the existing
prohibitions on these practices.”
Ms Nygard reviewed the history of the criminal law against
assistance with suicide, since Canada’s first Criminal Code took
effect on July 1, 1893. She said the prohibition of assisted suicide
and euthanasia expresses the fundamental value of preserving human
life and “the state’s interest in preserving life by not condoning
the taking of another’s life. It reflects the policy of the state
that the value of human life should not be depreciated by allowing
life to be taken by another.”
Justice Smith asked Nygard how, if the state
does not condone the taking of life, we explain killing in
self-defence, or sending people to war? Nygard said that
those situations are different, they are not about condoning the
taking of life but about exceptions to the taking of life with a
different set of rules. For example, said Nygard, self-defence is a
narrow excuse for killing in a situation where there would be a loss
of life anyway.
Nygard said Canada’s parliament has repeatedly rejected legalization
of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Since 1991 nine private members
bills at the House of Commons have either been defeated or were not
debated. Last year Bill C-384, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code
(Right to Die with Dignity) was defeated by a vote of 228 – 59. She
noted that one reason Canada had rejected capital punishment was
because even the best justice systems make mistakes and this results
in wrongful executions, and that legalizing assisted death would
have the same risks.
Nygard said that courts in the USA, England, and Europe have upheld
the prohibition of assisted death, and that the BC Supreme Court
should do the same. She also argued that medical associations around
the world opposed physician assistance in dying, and emphasized that
the New Zealand Medical Association held that even if the law were
to change in that country, the NZMA would continue to regard the
practice as unethical.
With regard to people with physical disabilities, Nygard said
persons with “complete disability are in a different situation than
individuals without physical disabilities with respect to their
ability to end their lives without contravening the criminal law.”
However, even a person with severe disabilities can still end his or
her own life without assistance, either by refusing medical
treatment or stopping eating and drinking.
Canada’s position is that the absolute prohibition against
assistance in suicide is “based on the understanding that all people
who are considering suicide, with or without physical disability,
are vulnerable and in need of protection from the interventions of
others. In enacting a blanket prohibition, Parliament has adjudged
that all persons who might wish to end their lives are vulnerable to
abuses, coercion, and subtle pressures and has legislated
accordingly.” The law, said Nygard, may be paternalistic but in that
respect it is “equally paternalistic to the able-bodied and the
In closing, Canada’s position was that “the taking of a life
represents the most serious crime in Canadian law.” Prohibition is
“consistent with Canadian values and the state’s interest in
preserving life by not condoning the taking of another’s life.”
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
On December 13th George Copley presented the argument for the BC
Attorney General, as he did in the case of Sue Rodriguez nearly 20
years ago. Mr. Copley reviewed the record for the Rodriguez case and
compared it to the case presented by the plaintiffs. He said the
arguments for Gloria Taylor are essentially the same as those for
Sue Rodriguez, therefore the principle of stare decisis applied and
the court should reject her claim.
Copley rejected the claimant’s case that things had changed since
Rodriguez. He said that the blanket prohibition against assisted
death was still the norm around the world. Just because a new law
had been enacted in Oregon, Washington, and Belgium, and that the
Netherlands had codified what was previously a policy for doctors,
this did not change the fact that the norm around the world is still
Copley submitted that the plaintiff’s claim that there is no ethical
distinction between withdrawal of treatment that causes death and a
positive act to hasten death is no different than the one put
forward in Rodriguez. The Supreme Court of Canada rejected that
argument in 1993 and Copley believed it would do so today.
The spectre of a “made in Canada slippery slope” was raised. Copley
said the Canadian Medical Association had expressed concern that if
euthanasia or assisted suicide were permitted for “competent,
suffering, terminally ill patients,” then courts might extend this
to people who are not competent, not suffering, and not terminally
ill. Copley warned that “reliance on the autonomy principle alone
leads logically and inevitably to physician assisted death on
Picking up on Canada’s argument that severely disabled people can
still end their lives, Copley said “the able bodied and the disabled
can equally commit suicide by refusing to eat or drink or by
refusing provision of artificial nutrition or hydration.
Decriminalization of suicide does not in purpose or effect make a
distinction between the able-bodied and the disabled. All that s.
241(b) does is remove one means of committing suicide … (an)
able-bodied person may have more possible choices as to means of
committing suicide but the means of committing suicide is not a
benefit conferred by government.”
Justice Smith commented that refusal of food and drink as method of
suicide seemed “harsh.” Copley replied that a doctor could ethically
treat the suffering of a patient who chooses to die that way [see
note below **].
Similar to the position presented by Canada, British Columbia said
legalization is an “exceedingly complex social issue” that would be
better left to parliament to decide, because it could choose from a
wider range of alternatives than the courts. “(A) blanket
prohibition on assisting suicide, and … euthanasia, is necessary to
achieve the objective of protecting vulnerable persons in a real and
substantial manner. Nothing less will suffice.”
[** Farewell Foundation notes that Canadian courts have not
considered the refusal of life-support and artificial
nutrition/hydration to constitute suicide, as is now suggested by
both Canada and British Columbia. Case law, Zsiros (2003) and
Martens (2004), has said that aiding suicide includes actions that
“move the process of suicide along.” If, as suggested by the
Attorney General for BC, a doctor can treat the suffering of a
patient who has stopped eating or drinking, then it would seem that
the government is saying that the doctor can ethically move the
process of some forms of suicide along.]
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|This report came by email so there is no link.
This Report covers the Carter Trial December 1, 2011
Day 11: Thursday, December 01, 2011
Counsel for the plaintiffs, Joe Arvay, began the first day of what
will be several days of argument. He told the court that the case
involves the rights of unfortunate Canadians who have irremediable
medical conditions that cause intolerable suffering, such as “ALS,
Huntington’s, ravaging cancer … but also those with rarer
conditions, like the bluntly but aptly named “Locked-In Syndrome” -
a condition capable of transforming the body into the breathing
equivalent of a medieval dungeon.” He said that there are those who
“believe there are states of being that are literally worse than
death, and who wish to embrace the latter in the time, manner and
circumstances of their own choosing.”
The first legal point to address was the 1993 Supreme Court of
Canada ruling that denied Sue Rodriguez the right to assistance to
die. Arvay argued that the Rodriguez ruling was not binding on the
BC Supreme Court because the facts in this case differ from those in
Rodriguez, there are new developments in law that undermine any
precedent, and foundational principles of human rights are involved.
Section 7 of the Charter of Rights—the right to life, liberty, and
security of the person—comprised the bulk of the day’s argument. The
Court was told that the right to life was deprived when individuals
are denied the “right to make and carry out the decision to end
one’s own life.” The right to liberty is harmed by “state
interference with the right of the individual to a protected sphere
of autonomy over decisions of fundamental personal importance.” And,
security of the person is harmed “by state-imposed restrictions on
the right and ability of an individual to make and act upon
decisions concerning his or her own body, to exercise control over
matters fundamental to his or her physical, emotional and
psychological integrity, and by the resultant impairment to his or
her human dignity.”
The Court was also informed physician assisted dying can be safely
regulated and that other end-of-life medical decisions such as
refusal, withholding or withdrawal of medical treatment are subject
to much less rigorous oversight. Currently, these decisions are not
subject to any formal review process: “In the context of refusal or
withdrawal, there is not only no process for vetting the patient’s
decision, the life-ending act need not even be reported as such. The
practice of terminal sedation, which on the evidence can also hasten
death, is also carried on in the absence of regulation and
oversight. Further, in both of these contexts, the decision may be
made by a substituted decision-maker - adding yet another
significant level of risk.”
Gloria Taylor was in court to hear the evidence. From Taylor’s
affidavit, the Court heard Taylor express her concern about a double
standard with regard to choosing to die from withdrawal of treatment
versus physician assistance:
“I also cannot understand why it is permissible for my friend, who
is on kidney dialysis, to say ‘enough is enough’ and make the
decision to die. I cannot understand why the law respects his wish
and decision to die, but does not do the same for me. We are equally
competent. I do not understand how or why it is the role of
government to say that his choice results in a “natural” death, but
my choice would not.”
The Court was also told that while palliative care is an option for
many, it is paternalistic for Canada and British Columbia to insist
that it knows what kind of care is good for patients, and to say
that palliative sedation is the answer to assisted death. Quoting
from her affidavit, the Court heard what Gloria Taylor thinks of
“While I appreciate that others may feel differently about it,
personally, I find the idea of terminal sedation repugnant. I do not
understand how anyone could assert that it is a viable alternative
to physician-assisted dying. I cannot believe that any rational
person would want that end for themselves or anyone they care about.
I can understand that, if you allow a person’s suffering to become
completely overwhelming, there will be a point where terminal
sedation is better than soldiering on, but I cannot see how anyone,
approaching death rationally and while still able to evaluate their
options, could choose to die that way. It is not rational to choose
to waste away slowly while unconscious, but still alive. There is no
closure in that, no dignity.
The idea that I might, even
though in an induced coma, be able to hear people and things going
on around me as I lay wasting is a terrifying thought to me.
And if it is correct to say that I would not have any sensation at
all of being alive while in that coma, then I do not see why I
cannot instead have the dignity and closure of actually being dead.
I do not want my last conscious thought to be worrying about what
will happen - to my body and my family - once I am in the coma. I
believe terminal sedation would horrify and traumatize my 11 year
We are extremely close and I
believe that if I was not dead but rather sedated, she would insist
on visiting and staying with me and, if denied the right to do so,
would feel guilty about not staying and resentful of those who
prevented her from doing so. Either way, her mind would be filled
with visions of my body wasting away while I was “alive.” I cannot
stand the idea of putting her through that. I believe that would be
cruel to my granddaughter. I could not feel at peace knowing that
that was what I was leaving her, and my other family members, to go
322 – 720 6th Street
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Dying West Kelowna woman in court
by The Canadian Press - Story: 67261 - Nov 14,
Photo: The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
Gloria Taylor is pictured in this undated handout photo. On Monday,
lawyers for Taylor will be in B.C. Supreme Court to argue against
laws that make it a criminal offence to help seriously ill people
end their lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO
It's been nearly 20 years since Canada's laws on assisted suicide
have been challenged by a terminally ill person, and now a similar
right-to-die case has thrust the issue back into the spotlight.
On Monday, lawyers for Gloria Taylor, 63, will be in B.C. Supreme
Court to argue against laws that make it a criminal offence to help
seriously ill people end their lives.
In August, the Farewell Foundation lost its court battle to have the
laws changed because its plaintiffs were anonymous, but in a
separate case, Judge Lynn Smith agreed to fast track a trial for
Taylor, who wants a doctor-assisted suicide.
She suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable illness
that gradually weakens and degenerates muscles to the point of
Taylor is one of five plaintiffs in the case, which also includes
family physician Dr. William Shoichet, the B.C. Civil Liberties
Association and Lee Carter and her husband Hollis Johnson. The
couple took Carter's mother to Switzerland two years ago so she
could die with the help of a doctor.
"Lee and Hollis feel they could be criminally prosecuted for
assisting her mother and that's why they are challenging the laws,"
said B.C. Civil Liberties lawyer Grace Pastine, adding Kay Carter
suffered from spinal stenosis, which involves a narrowing of the
"She was essentially going to end up lying in a hospital bed, flat
like an ironing board."
While advocates for doctor-assisted suicide say it's time for Canada
to amend the laws, opponents argue the issue raises serious concerns
about abuse by people who stand to gain from the death of someone
who may not be in a position to provide consent to assisted suicide.
The right-to-die, or euthanasia, debate last arose in 1993 when the
Supreme Court of Canada ruled 5-4 against Victoria resident Sue
Rodriguez's battle to change the law. She also had ALS and died
illegally the following year with the help of an anonymous doctor.
Sheila Tucker, one of the lawyers involved in Taylor's case, said
the Kelowna, B.C., woman is relatively mobile and uses a scooter to
get around but recently fell and hurt her ribs, and that could
worsen her condition.
Tucker said that since the Rodriguez case, other jurisdictions,
including Oregon, Washington and Belgium, have adopted laws to
protect people from being influenced or pushed into planning their
"An absolute prohibition is no longer constitutionally feasible now
that there's evidence of workable systems," Tucker said.
She said studies in Oregon have suggested that people who want to
die with the help of a doctor aren't likely to be victimized.
"The studies indicate that the very kind of personality type that is
most likely to seek physician-assisted dying is, in fact, the
independent, strong-willed personality. And I think that Gloria just
happens to be an excellent example of that," she said.
"If we were not able to get some sort of timely resolution that
benefited Gloria personally then I think it's very important for her
to nonetheless know that that case is going to the Supreme Court of
Canada and that potentially she's changed the law for others."
But Dr. Will Johnston, the B.C. spokesman for the Euthanasia
Prevention Coalition of Canada, said the Taylor case is troubling
because it proposes that doctors would not be required to administer
the lethal dose or even witness the death.
A new right-to-die law may give people another tool to abuse the
elderly, especially when money is involved, he said.
"We simply don't know how to get a handle on the abuse right now,
and what's being proposed simply opens up an entirely new avenue for
potential victimization and abuse," said Johnston, a family doctor.
"We're in the middle of the largest intergenerational transfer of
wealth in history. So there is simply an excessive motivation, it
seems, for often family members to do things that aren't really in
the best interest of the elderly."
Along with delivering babies and providing palliative care for dying
patients, Johnston is also hired by lawyers to do competency or
capability assessments on elderly or ill people.
He said he can think of at least 10 elder abuse cases involving
people whose family members were trying to get their wills changed
or bilk them of their savings by suggesting their elderly relatives
weren't capable of making such decisions.
"There's nothing in the Carter-Taylor case which would prevent
people who would benefit from the death of the person from proposing
the suicide to them, arranging it or facilitating it, being there at
the time of death. There's no requirement for third-party
|This is an email from the Farewell Foundation:
Carter trial is scheduled from November 14th to December 16, 2011.
Farewell Foundation will send regular updates to keep you informed.
Day 1: Monday, November 14, 2011
The first day of the Carter trial began before a packed courtroom at
09:45, with the Sherriff holding about 10 people back in a corridor
until seats were available. After the opening arguments, there was
cross-examination of Dr. Linda Ganzini, staff psychiatrist at Oregon
Health Sciences University. Dr. Ganzini is an expert witness for the
plaintiffs. Her affidavit is 28 pages long , plus another 324 pages
of material about her many scientific papers.
Dr. Ganzini testified about her research conducted before and after
implementation of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. Much time was
spent discussing the characteristics of people who request assisted
dying and go on to die by ingesting a lethal prescription. Oregon’s
experience in 525 assisted deaths from 1998 – 2010 shows that the
vast majority of patients do not show symptoms of Major Depressive
Disorder. Regarding the worry about undue influence to pressure
people to die, Dr. Ganzini noted that families usually more likely
to oppose loved ones who wish to end their lives. She said that
people who ask for the lethal prescription are very often “rugged
individuals” who resist being cared for by others—they would rather
die their own way than by their disease.
The Attorney General of Canada and Attorney General of British
Columbia focused on what they considered to be weaknesses in the
Oregon approach, particularly with regard to screening patients for
mental disorders. For example, it was speculated that a patient
might not have a mental disorder at the time of application for a
lethal prescription but might develop mental disorder a few weeks
later. Dr. Ganzini agreed that this was a distant possibility, but
terminally ill patients are seen several times a week by various
professionals who have many opportunities to see the onset of
diminished mental capacity.
At the end of the day Madam Justice Lynn Smith asked Dr. Ganzini if
the Oregon Death With Dignity Act could be improved. Dr. Ganzini
noted that the system does not pretend to be perfect and that its
practices have evolved over the years. She told the court that when
a problem is identified, that’s an opportunity to improve the
system, not to scrap the law.
Day 2: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Tuesday’s expert witness was Dr. Douglas
McGregor, Regional Director of Palliative Care for Vancouver Coastal
Health Authority. Dr. McGregor was a witness for the AG of British
Columbia and his affidavit was 14 pages long, plus another 192 pages
of material that mostly covered palliative care policies and
A primary issue in Dr. McGregor’s evidence was “palliative
sedation,” which is a final resort practice where a terminally ill
patient with complex suffering is sedated for several days until
they die. In palliative sedation, a patient is not normally given
fluid or food, and they die after a few days. In theory, a patient
in deep palliative sedation does not experience awareness and
therefore does not suffer. Dr. McGregor said that he promises his
patients that if their suffering becomes severe, he will not give
them assisted death but he will offer palliative sedation. Dr.
McGregor opined that assisted death is not the right thing for
Counsel for the plaintiffs introduced Dr. McGregor to two papers
that question the effectiveness of palliative sedation. One study in
the Journal of Palliative Medicine said that “Awareness can occur in
up to 17% of those undergoing conscious sedation. Seventeen percent
of individuals who undergo palliative sedation fail to have symptoms
relieved by sedation.” This can cause a sense of helplessness, acute
fear, and panic. Another very recent paper from the Journal of
Medical Ethics put to Dr. McGregor argued that the palliative
technique of voluntary refusal of food and fluid with sedation may
actually “represent a cruel and inhumane method of terminating life”
and that it may inflict additional harm and suffering.
In light of the above articles, Dr. McGregor was asked if he could
agree that he should no longer promise his patients that he could
rid them of suffering though palliative sedation. Dr. McGregor said
the journal articles were news to him and conceded, “I’ll have to
think about that.”
Next: Day 3, Wednesday November 16th the court will hear evidence
from Dr. Marcia Angell. She is a lecturer at Harvard Medical School
and former Editor in Chief of the New England Medical Journal.
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Email: info "at" farewellfoundation.ca
|This is an email and newsletter from the Farewell Foundation:
Greetings Members and Supporters,
Attached is our newsletter for November 2011. It is also available
in the “News and Events” section of
The Carter trial starts Monday, November 14th, in BC Supreme Court.
The trial is schedule for one month and it is unlikely that Madam
Justice Lynn Smith will deliver her decision this year.
Over the past two months many of the procedural issues have related
to the trial format. This trial will be a summary trial, rather than
a conventional trial. In a conventional trial litigants appear
before a judge or jury, and witnesses are called to testify about
the facts. Witnesses can be cross-examined and the judge or jury
decides the facts, applies the law, and give a verdict. Conventional
trials take a long time to complete and usually have to be scheduled
many months, even years, in advance.
A summary trial is meant to efficiently resolve a dispute without
waiting for a conventional trial. In a summary trial, evidence is
put to the judge in affidavits and lawyers spend less time arguing
the admissibility of witness evidence. Instead the judge must review
written submissions and decide which parts are admissible. In the
Carter case, more than 100 affidavits and expert reports have been
submitted. There are more than 10,000 pages of material for the
judge to consider before issuing a ruling.
This summary trial will hear some witness testimony. On Monday,
Oregon psychiatrist Dr. Linda Ganzini is scheduled to testify for
four hours. Other witnesses scheduled this week include Dr. Douglas
McGregor, Professor Marcia Angell, and Professor Margaret Battin.
Farewell Foundation is in this weekend’s TV episode of Context with
Lorna Dueck. Context presents a Christian perspective on social
issues. You can see the program in 3 - 8 minute segments at these
Part 1: Farewell Foundation, Russel Ogden:
Part 2: Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Jean Echlin/Hugh Sher:
Part 3: Mark Pickup, advocate for life and disability issues:
Part 4: Andy Bannister, Christian Apologist. Why does God allow
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|This came by email so there is no source link.
Farewell Foundation Members and Supporters,
Farewell Foundation is pleased to be first to be granted intervener
status in the Carter case. On September 2nd, Madam Justice Lynn
Smith granted us status to give written and oral submissions and we
can apply to make further submissions should conditions change
during the trial.
The five directors for Farewell Foundation applied to intervene on
grounds that counsel for Carter were unlikely to introduce evidence
supporting the Swiss model for self-chosen death.
After lengthy discussion this week, we are delighted that BCCLA
lawyers have committed to “forcefully arguing” the admissibility of
expert evidence on the Swiss model. They have retained Dr. Georg
Bosshard, a renowned researcher, clinical ethicist, and physician.
Dr. Bosshard authored an important chapter on the law and practice
of assisted dying in Switzerland in the acclaimed book Euthanasia
and the Law in Europe. He is also author of many important studies
that show how the Swiss model works and the critical role of
non-profit groups such as EXIT and DIGNITAS. At the end of this
message are links to several of Dr. Bosshard’s research papers.
Farewell Foundation believes the Swiss model is most effective at
enhancing self-determination because it offers the least restrictive
access for those who need help with self-chosen death while also
providing the best accountability mechanisms to public authorities,
including prosecutors, police, and coroners. Through Dr. Bosshard
and several other witnesses, the court will have the opportunity to
consider the benefits of the Swiss model.
We want to congratulate counsel for BCCLA for putting together a
formidable case that is supported by numerous expert witnesses from
around the world.
The next court appearance is September 20th when the Attorney
General of Canada will argue to postpone the four week trial
scheduled for November 14th in favour of an eight week trial
starting in March, 2012.
We will keep you apprised.
Publicly Available Research Articles by Dr. Georg Bosshard
Fischer, S., Huber, C. A., Furter, M., Imhof, L., Imhof, R. M.,
Schwarzenegger, C., Ziegler, S. J. & Bosshard, G. 2009). Reasons why
people in Switzerland seek assisted suicide: the view of patients
and physicians. Swiss Medical Weekly, 139, 333-338.
Ziegler, S. J., & Bosshard, G. (2007). Role of non-governmental
organisations in physician assisted suicide. British Medical
Journal, 334, 295-298.
Bosshard, G., Ulrich, E., & Bär, W. (2003). 748 cases of suicide
assisted by a Swiss right-to-die organization. Swiss Medical Weekly,
Bosshard, G., Fischer, S., & Bar, W. (2002). Open regulation and
practice in assisted dying. Swiss Medical Weekly. 132, 527-534.
Fischer, S., Bosshard, G., Faisst, K., Tschopp, A., Fischer, J., Bär,
W., & Gutzwiller, F. (2005). Swiss doctors’ attitudes towards
end-of-life decisions and their determinants A comparison of three
language regions. Swiss Medical Weekly, 135, 370-376.
Bosshard G. (2008). Chapter 16: Switzerland. In Griffiths J., Weyers
H., & Adams M, eds. Euthanasia and law in Europe. Oxford: Hart
Publishing. (pp. 463-482).
[Ask your reference library for a copy]
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info "at" farewellfoundation.ca
PHYSICIAN ASSISTED DYING
|Email from the Farewell Foundation August 26, 2011
Members and Supporters,
On August 17th the BC Supreme Court denied Farewell Foundation the
right to proceed with our challenge to Canada’s prohibition against
compassionate assistance with self-chosen death. In her ruling,
Madam Justice Lynn Smith said the door was open for us to apply to
intervene in the Carter case, which is set for trial in November. If
granted, intervention status would allow Farewell Foundation to make
submissions and possibly lead evidence in court.
Yesterday, Farewell Foundation filed its application to intervene in
the Carter case. Madam Justice Lynn Smith will hear our application
on September 2nd. You can read our application in the “NEWS and
EVENTS” section of our website
www.farewellfoundation.ca Also on our website you can read the
August 17th BC Supreme Court decision, which was published
Farewell Foundation seeks intervention status to ensure that the
Swiss model for self-chosen death is considered in the context of
Carter. The Carter case proposes an exception to the Criminal Code
to allow “physician assisted dying.” The Carter court documents say
little about how “physician assisted dying” would work , but one of
Carter’s lawyers was reported in the online edition of the Vancouver
Sun last week as saying that the medical model being proposed is
similar to the one used in Washington and Oregon, where doctors can
prescribe lethal prescriptions only to patients who are terminally
ill with fewer than six months to live.
Farewell Foundation want to ensure that the definition of
“physician-assisted dying” adopted by the Court will not
unnecessarily restrict the assistance with self-chosen death that we
want to make available for our members.
We will update you as soon as possible after the September 2nd
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info "at" farewellfoundation.ca
|Email from the Farewell Foundation August 17, 2011
Greetings Members and Supporters,
Today, the BC Supreme Court denied Farewell Foundation standing in
its civil claim against the Attorney General of Canada. A key issue
for Madam Justice Lynn Smith was our commitment to the anonymity of
our members and their personal health information. Despite this
hurdle we remain committed to taking on the challenges for your
right to the option of self-chosen death.
Our Two Options for Continuing:
Intervene in the BCCLA case
Madam Justice Smith was highly respectful of the important issues
that we raised. She encouraged us to file an application to
intervene in the BCCLA’s trial in November, which addresses common
legal ground. We will do what Madam Justice Smith suggested and we
will seek her approval to intervene, to introduce evidence, and to
cross-examine witnesses. Given Madam Justice Smith’s comments, we’re
optimistic that our application will be approved at our next court
appearance, September 2nd.
A key reason to intervene in the BCCLA case is to inform the court
about the less restrictive Swiss model and to argue that self-chosen
death should not be unduly restricted to physicians. In our last
announcement, it was noted that the BCCLA seeks very restrictive
“physician-assisted dying.” Farewell Foundation wants a wider range
of options for assistance and our research shows that demedicalized
self-chosen death, as it is in Switzerland, is a safe, effective,
and accountable option.
A New Civil Claim with Publicly Identified Members
If any members wish to discuss the possibility of being publically
identified in a new civil claim, contact me by email or telephone.
If and when a Farewell Foundation member is prepared to be
publically identified in court, a new civil claim may be filed. To
gain standing, this member must be facing a life threatening
condition or a serious disability and the member would want the
option of assistance with self-chosen death from Farewell
Thanks to you all for your ongoing support and commitment to the
right to autonomy and self-determination. Below this message are
some links to today’s news reports.
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Also see the
Farewell Foundations blog here
Do you remember the movie named
"Who's life is it anyway", it was a really good movie.
Set in a hospital room, the action revolves around Ken Harrison, a
sculptor by profession, who was paralysed from the neck down
(quadriplegia) in a car accident and is determined to be allowed to
die. Clark presented arguments both in favour of and opposing
euthanasia and to what extent government should be allowed to
interfere in the life of a private citizen. In portraying Ken as an
intelligent man with a useless body, he left the audience with
conflicting feelings about his desire to end his life.
Brian Clark (June 2, 1932–) is a British playwright and
television writer, best known for his play ‘’Whose Life Is It
Anyway? which he later adapted into a screenplay
identify body found in lake
CHBC, CHBC News, Kelowna: Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Craik was found by a paddle boarder approximately 200 meters off
the public dock at City Park, just after 7:30 a.m. on May 13.
RCMP have released the name of the male whose body was found
floating in Okanagan Lake on May 13, 2011.
19 year old Justin Craik was found by a paddle boarder approximately
200 meters off the public dock at City Park, just after 7:30 a.m.
An autopsy, conducted by the B.C. Coroner's Service, has ruled out
foul play and the pending final autopsy report will confirm the
exact cause of death.
Craik's identity was confirmed today and his family have been
Craik was the subject of an investigation after his family reported
him missing on April 1st.
The Police investigation into both matters is now concluded while
the Coroner's Service investigation continues.
Man pleads with cops to shoot him
Castanet.net - by RCMP - Story: 58100 - Nov 8,
Vernon RCMP were forced to deal with a delicate situation over the
Police say about 5:15 a.m. Sunday, a 24-year-old man was found
standing by the back door of the detachment office.
He was shirtless and was waving a ratchet at the officer, demanding
the officer shoot him.
"Our officer spoke to him and told him he would not be shot. The man
demanded he go get an officer who would as he was done with life,"
says RCMP spokesman, Gord Molendyk.
"Our officers were able to arrest the man without incident and take
him to VJH for treatment."
Molendyk says issues like these do come up quite often.
He says officers are put in a very tense situation while they deal
with individuals that suffer from mental health issues.
slain boy slams B.C. mental health system
CTV News - By: The Canadian Press - Tuesday Jul.
John Fulton was last seen on the steps of his
Grand Forks, B.C., home August 15, 2009.
The family of a 12-year-old autistic boy who was stabbed to death by
his mentally ill neighbour says the child was let down by British
Columbia's mental health system and his killing was "completely
John Fulton disappeared from the steps of his Grand Forks, B.C.,
home last August. Two days later, Mounties discovered his body
inside Kimberly Ruth Noyes' home.
Noyes' second-degree murder trial wrapped up last week when she was
found not criminally responsible for the killing due to mental
disorder. She was sent to a forensic psychiatry hospital where her
condition will be reviewed after 45 days.
Fulton's family said little during the B.C. Supreme Court trial, but
in an open letter this week blasted B.C.'s mental health system.
"This senseless crime was completely avoidable. Noyes' actions were
completely deplorable but mental health's inactions are equally so,"
the letter reads.
Noyes was diagnosed in 2003 with bipolar disorder, a condition that
causes manic delusional episodes as well as suicidal depressions.
Each time she was in a manic phase, her psychiatrist testified at
trial, she was quite psychotic and completely rejected the notion
that she was mentally ill. Noyes believed her dead father was God,
that the devil was in her house and that God was coming in a
helicopter to take everyone away.
Noyes' eldest daughter and other psychiatrists who had treated her
testified about Noyes' delusion that she had to sacrifice her
youngest daughter in order to resurrect her.
Fulton's family said in its letter that testimony at the trial made
it quite clear that Noyes was a threat to the community and a danger
to children, yet no one warned the families that lived at the
low-income complex she called home.
"The local RCMP, mental health workers, psychiatrists, her doctor,
and her family knew she was ill," the letter reads. "And despite her
clearly disturbing behaviour the months before John's death, no one
thought to hospitalize her. Where was the common sense?"
Fulton's family said it's not suggesting that people who struggle
with mental illness should be locked away from society.
But when someone is uttering threats about sacrificing children, the
family said, mental health should be charged with protecting the
rights of the general public.
"The loss of this beautiful child has been devastating to our
family," the letter states. "The way in which he was taken from us
was unimaginable. The pain we feel will take years to lessen, but
will never be fully gone."
Noyes had a troubled childhood.
Her mother died when she was very young and she took her passing
badly. Noyes' father died the day before she was to graduate.
Three people in her extended family also committed suicide.
Noyes enrolled in the University of Calgary but dropped out. She
eventually completed a business administration degree and worked as
Golden Ears Bridge re-opens after man talked off ledge
Maple Ridge News - July 20, 2010
Golden Ears bridge was closed both ways for five hours on Tuesday,
after a distraught man managed to climb onto a ledge on the Langley
Around 10:30 a.m., traffic was blocked off so police could deal with
an emotionally disturbed man who had managed to climb up and over a
tower and past the suicide barriers.
He spent hours on a ledge which stands about 150 feet above the
Fraser River, said witnesses.
Police tried to talk the man down as he was seen hanging by one arm
from one of the cable wires.
While police negotiators worked with the man, they also brought in
their high angle rescue team, Emergency Response Team and sent a
water-borne team into the river.
Air 2 was also participating for some time, said Langley RCMP.
The Caucasian man, believed to be in his late 30s or early 40s, was
talked down around 3:45 p.m.
The Golden Ears Bridge was the first bridge in B.C. to be built with
The sharply pointed metal bars were constructed to stop people from
being able to climb over the edge.
Traffic on Highway One was completely jammed heading westbound and
feeder routes to the Golden Ears bridge were backed up on both sides
of the river.
Barriers may not cut suicides: study
CBC.ca - CBC News - Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Photo of Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct
A study suggests
suicide barriers like the one on Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct may
have little effect overall. (Lori Slater)
A new study says that the suicide barrier erected on Toronto's Bloor
Street Viaduct hasn't reduced the number of people who jump to their
death in Canada's largest city every year.
The report concludes what many critics said at the time the barrier
was being built: people intent on committing suicide by jumping from
heights will just find another location.
The Bloor Street Viaduct held the dubious distinction of being the
bridge with the world's second highest suicide rate after the Golden
Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Between 1992 and 2002, there were an average of 10 suicides a year
at the Toronto location.
After the barrier was completed in June 2003, that number dropped to
"However, there was no impact on suicide by jumping in the region as
a whole," a summary of the report states. "Toronto's overall yearly
suicide rate by jumping was almost unchanged when comparing the pre-
and post-barrier periods at 56.4 per year compared to 56.6 per
The researchers, led by psychiatrist Dr. Mark Sinyor from University
of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, also found that
"there was a statistically significant increase in suicides by
jumping from bridges other than the Bloor Street Viaduct."
One thing that the researchers couldn't quantify however is the
effect the barriers may have on impulse actions.
"[The barriers] may save more lives than other suicide prevention
strategies, especially in children and young adults, who tend to act
impulsively in fleeting suicidal crisis," the study says.
One of the strongest impetuses for the barrier in Toronto was the
suicide of 17-year-old Kenneth Au Yeng.
The St. Michael's Choir School student had been admonished on the
morning of Dec. 17, 1997 for his part in a school yearbook prank.
Several hours later he vaulted over the side of the bridge.
His tragic death helped to push local politicians into taking
Similar barriers have also been erected at other world landmarks —
the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower being prime examples.
The researchers conclude that, "this research shows that
constructing a barrier on a bridge with a high rate of suicide by
jumping is likely to reduce or eliminate suicides at that bridge,
but it may not alter absolute suicide rates by jumping when there
are comparable bridges nearby."
The study was published by the British Medical Association.
Anyone in need of immediate help near Vernon BC should call the PIN Crisis Line
Body of missing Vernon man found
Vernon Morning Star - By Roger Knox - June 01,
A week-long search for a missing Vernon man ended Monday evening.
The body of Garry Kurbis, 52, was discovered with his missing
pick-up truck in a wooded area off Hartnell and Dixon Dam Roads in
“Foul play is not suspected in the death,” said Vernon RCMP
spokesman Gord Molendyk.
Kurbis’s truck was discovered by a resident out for a walk in the
Kurbis had last been seen Tuesday on surveillance video leaving his
Vernon condo in his white Dodge Dakota pick-up truck.
The long-time autobody shop employee did not show up for work
Wednesday, something family and friends said was completely out of
character for Kurbis.
Appeals to the public were made by police, family and friends,
concerned for Kurbis’s well-being.
Police stated Monday that Kurbis had left a note in his home, saying
he was dealing with some issues. His bank accounts had not been
touched from the time he disappeared.
Friends conducted searches of the area, as Kurbis was known to be a
fan of off-roading, particularly in the Aberdeen Plateau area.
“We would like to thank the public for the calls we received in
connection with this case, and for their assistance in attempting to
locate Mr. Kurbis,” said Molendyk.
More than 800 people had joined a Facebook page asking for help in
finding Kurbis, a popular figure on local golf courses and at the
Vernon Curling Club.
On Monday and Tuesday, numerous messages of condolence had been left
on the page.
Foul play not suspected in Kurbis death
by Castanet Staff - Story: 54888 - Jun 1, 2010
For a little less than a week, friends and family of a Vernon man
were living with the fear of not knowing where he was.
On Monday evening, their worst fears were confirmed. Garry Kurbis,
52, was found deceased in his vehicle.
RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk says the RCMP received a call just
after 6 p.m. Monday.
“The truck associated to Garry Kurbis was found in the bush area off
Hartnell Road in Vernon.
Officers attended, Garry was found deceased in his vehicle,” says
He says foul play is not suspected in this case
Friends and family worry about missing man
Vernon Morning Star - By Roger Knox - May 29, 2010
It is not like Garry Kurbis to just go off without saying a word to
family or friends.
And it’s really not like Kurbis to not show up for work at a local
autobody shop, a place he’s worked at “forever.”
Friends, family and Vernon RCMP are puzzled by Kurbis’
disappearance. He was last seen Tuesday when he left his residence
in his 1994 white Dodge Dakota pick-up (licence plates 3544 NH).
Concern arose when Kurbis failed to show up for work Wednesday.
“We know nothing, it’s totally out of the norm for him,” said Randi
Tingle, Kurbis’s second cousin. “When I got a call saying Garry
wasn’t at work I was like ‘What the hell?’ It’s totally out of
character for him. Big-time.”
All attempts by Vernon RCMP and friends and family to find Kurbis
have been unsuccessful.
Asked how concerned the family is about her second cousin, Tingle
replied, “A lot.”
Tingle said she wasn’t aware of any issues Kurbis might have been
Vernon RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk said Friday that Kurbis’ bank
accounts had not been touched, and that his cell phone was found in
“We are doing everything we can to find Mr. Kurbis,” said Molendyk.
“We’re concerned for his well-being, as are his family and friends.”
As of Friday, police had not received any tips as to Kurbis’s
whereabouts, nor had his truck been spotted.
Tingle started a Facebook page – Please Help Us Find Garry Kurbis,
Missing From Vernon, B.C. – on Friday, and had attracted more than
150 members by Friday afternoon.
“Once the news went public, we decided to start the page to help
spread the word, you know, word-of-mouth in case anybody had any
sightings or information,” said Tingle.
Kurbis, 52, is five-foot-six, weighs 139-pounds, and has brown hair
and brown eyes.
Anybody with any information is asked to call the Vernon RCMP at
On May 15, 2010 at approx. 10:30am we heard sirens.
Someone emailed us and said they seen 3 police cars and an ambulance down on Hodges
Road at Killiney Beach, Vernon BC.
We were told (rumour is) that an older gentleman close to 80 years old shot himself through the neck trying to
commit suicide because he was suffering unbearable hip pain.
Obviously the health care system failed him if that is true.
Education critical to addressing suicide
Vernon Morning Star - By Cara Brady - January 14,
Gerard Hayes, applied suicide intervention skills
trainer, speaks at First Aid for Suicide Thursday.
There is something that can be done when a person feels someone
is thinking about suicide.
“I think there’s a lot of fear and stigma around suicide,” said
Sharon Durant, chairman of the Vernon Suicide Prevention Committee
which is made up of a number of local service agencies.
“A lot of people don’t know what to do if someone is giving signs
that they may be suicidal so they don’t do anything.”
The committee presents First Aid for Suicide with Gerard Hayes
Hayes is an applied suicide intervention skills training master
trainer at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
“We want to show people how to recognize the signs and how and where
to get them help,” said Durant.
“It’s like CPR. If you don’t know how to do it and someone near you
needs it, you cant help them the way you should.”
Durant believes people can learn how to put things in context to
assess the real risk.
For example, a person may say in exasperation about one area of
their lives, “I can’t handle this anymore,” but have no thoughts of
All factors should be considered.
“Don’t ignore that gut feeling. Someone may be reaching out to you,
looking to see if you accept the way they’re feeling. Asking them
how they’re feeling shows you care about them and accept them,” she
“By talking, you may be able to help them get professional help and
prevent something worse down the road. People are more likely to
reach out to someone they know first rather than to a professional.”
High school students may be asked by peers to keep secrets but
anything to do with suicide is one secret they should never keep.
School counsellors can show them how to get help.
Suicide affects people of all ages from all cultural, religious,
educational and socioeconomic backgrounds and is
Durant has trained with Hayes and is enthusiastic about being able
to bring him to the area as a speaker.
“He’s excellent at giving an overview and teaching the skills people
need to help anyone of any age who might have suicidal behaviours,”
“We know that by providing a place where people can talk about
suicide, it is very helpful. At the vigil in Polson Park, a woman
said she couldn’t tell us how important it was for her to be there
and acknowledge her loss and know she was not alone.”
The presentation will include two speakers on their personal
experience of losing someone to suicide and service agencies will
have resource material available.
need of immediate help should call the PIN Crisis Line at
The free First Aid for Suicide presentation takes place Thursday
from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Best Western Vernon Lodge.
Child minding is available at no charge but people must register for
it by Jan. 18 by calling 250-542-3114 (ext. 2120.)
487 British Columbians took their own lives with 95 of those from
the Interior. It is estimated that there were
At any given time, five per cent of the
population is having thoughts of suicide with that number doubling
for young women between 15 and 24.
In 2002, there were 3,548 deaths by suicide
in Canada with fewer than 500 murders and about 3,000
traffic accident deaths.
Man sets himself on fire at Royal Jubilee
Saanich News - By Kyle Slavin - December 10, 2009
A 23-year-old man is critical condition in hospital with significant
burns to his entire body after dousing himself in gasoline and
setting himself on fire in the parking lot of Royal Jubilee.
Around 2:45 Thursday police, fire and ambulance attended after being
called about either "a man or a car on fire in the parking lot,"
said Cst. Paul Lamoureux with Saanich police.
"Numerous witnesses in the parking lot saw him and they helped to
extinguish the male," Lamoureux said.
The man's identity is being withheld. He is currently in a
If you have comments, ideas, solutions, concerns or complaints regarding
suicide, please make a comment by filling out the form below and/or comment directly to the
Regional District of Central Okanagan
Government of B.C.
Government of Canada
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