Range of intervener groups granted status at landmark right-to-die case

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Eight groups representing both sides of the right-to-die debate have been granted intervener status in the appeal of a landmark ruling that struck down Canada's ban on doctor-assisted suicide.

The federal government has asked the B.C. Court of Appeal to overturn a decision from the province's Supreme Court earlier this year that concluded the Criminal Code section banning assisted-suicide violates the charter.

A hearing is set for next March, and eight groups, including several that were part of the earlier challenge, have asked the Appeal Court to allow them to intervene.

The court has granted status to all eight advocacy groups, including the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die, the Christian Legal Fellowship and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, while limiting the areas that each group can touch on during the appeal.

The court rejected a request from Margaret Dore, an American activist who opposes assisted suicide and wanted to argue the B.C. ruling striking down the law could make it more difficult for her to repeal Washington State's doctor-assisted suicide law.

The B.C. case was originally launched by several plaintiffs, including ALS patient Gloria Taylor, who won the right to seek doctor-assisted suicide but died in October without the help of a physician.

The groups that were granted intervene status are: the Alliance of People with Disabilities Who are Supportive of Legal-Assisted Dying Society; the Canadian Unitarian Council; the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die; the Christian Legal Fellowship; the Evangelical Fellowship Of Canada; the national and B.C. branches of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition; and two groups that submitted a joint application, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living.