Mar 3, 2013 / 2:13 pm
Months before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith struck down Canada's law on doctor-assisted suicide, Russel Ogden and a colleague attended the suicide of a 90-year-old woman in the province's West Kootenays.
As Margaret Joan Lunam, a mother, veteran of the Second World War and aspiring Buddhist, ended her life, the fragrance of gilead and balm filled the crisp afternoon air of her Kaslo, B.C. home, and yellow daffodils lay nearby.
The visit wasn't a first for Ogden, a criminologist at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, who said he has attended what he calls "self-chosen deaths" for research before and has even been arrested by police. But it was a first for him as director of the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die, a group that will be in court Monday when the federal government appeal's Smith's ruling.
The foundation, which believes its members should be able to receive assistance to end their lives and provide assistance to other members who want to do the same, even for non-medical reasons, has published a five-page protocol for attending self-chosen deaths.
"The principal reason for attending is because members do not wish to die alone and they also wish to ensure that their death is reported appropriately to the coroner and the police," said Ogden.
"This ensures that there is no traumatic discovery by somebody who is not expecting to walk into a room and find somebody who is deceased."
The federal government appears in the B.C. Court of Appeal this week to challenge the June 15, 2012 ruling by Smith, who found the Criminal Code's provisions on doctor-assisted suicide were unconstitutional.
Specifically, Smith ruled the Criminal Code infringed on a plaintiffs' charter rights to life, liberty and security of person, but gave Parliament one year to draft new legislation.
Eight groups, including Ogden's which now represents about 280 members, have been granted intervenor status in the appeal, which will be webcast between Monday and Friday.
Protests outside the courthouse have also been announced by several of the groups.
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