Evelyn Martens was recently charged with counselling Leyanne Burchell of Vancouver B.C., to commit suicide on June 26, and Monique Charest of Duncan B.C. to commit suicide on Jan. 7, 2002.

Evelyn Martens is a leading member of the Canadian Right to Die Society, where she assists John Hofsess, founder of the Right to Die Society of Canada.

Information as to what Martens did or how she did it is unknown due to a court-ordered publication ban, but police are reviewing other unexplained sudden deaths.

In Canada, it is illegal to counsel, aid or abet someone to commit suicide. Section 241 of the Criminal Code states: Every one who (a) counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

The Right to Die Society of Canada is not just a lobby group that attempts to change the minds of politicians and the Canadian public. It is an organization that outwardly thwarts and ignores Canadian laws in order to extend its views about radical individual autonomy.

To our knowledge, Evelyn Martens does not have a degree in psychology, psychiatry and is not a social worker who’s expertise is depression and suicide counselling. She is not concerned with directing depressed or suicidal persons toward other options. She is an activist who has decided to take the law into her own hands.

In the same way, Ruth von Fuchs of the Canadian Right to Die Society is involved with producing and distributing the “Exit Bag – Suicide Bag” world-wide. This plastic bag has been designed for optimum effectiveness in killing persons who wear it. Still, to aid or abet suicide is illegal in Canada.

The suicide bag is not only tailor-made for committing suicide, but it is also useful as a device to be put over the head of your unsuspecting elderly mother-in-law or a person with a disability. The production of suicide gadgets directly threatens vulnerable persons with disabilities or elderly Canadians whose care is considered too onerous or expensive.

When Ruth von Fuchs was featured on a call-in television show on Jan.15 she stated that her training in assisting people to commit suicide was that she was a “caring, non-judgmental person.” In other words, she is not trained to help people and is primarily concerned about recklessly disregarding the laws and safeguards that exist to protect vulnerable Canadians in order to effect a fanatic vision.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports our current laws. Our legal counsel and disability activist, Hugh Scher, stated that, “These are Criminal Code offences for good reasons. Particularly they are there to protect the vulnerable, they are there to protect the victims whose lives will be taken with or without consent.”

Disability rights activist Mark Pickup from Alberta reacted by stating: “Is the issue one of choice in dying? No, its something larger. The bigotry of utilitarianism. If Granny Martens helped a depressed suicidal but healthy teenager commit suicide, she would be universally reviled. Are the incurably ill or disabled lives not worth living? Is it Okay to assist them in death?”

Interestingly, at the same time police were charging Martens, researchers in Oregon released a study that stated almost 90 per cent of those who request assistance in suicide in Oregon, change their minds. Dr. Susan Tolle, director of the Centre for Ethics in Health Care at Oregon Health & Science University stated that, “Most seriously ill people who ask about doctor-assisted suicide are actually afraid of pain or other issues and need to be reassured.” Tolle said that, “The doctor should ask, ‘What are you afraid of? What are you worried about?'” The doctor should then provide the proper care.

Did Evelyn Martens ask her suicide victims what they were afraid of, or what they were worried about? Did she direct them to where they could find the care they needed?

Assisted suicide does not care for the needs of the individual nor does it bring a death with dignity.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is committed to maintaining current laws that protect all Canadians and we will demand that the full weight of the law be used to stop other death zealots from murdering and pressuring others to kill themselves. At the same time, we will continue to direct people toward the compassionate care they need.