Canada Man Who Took Wife to Switzerland For Assisted Suicide Not Charged

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 4, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canada Man Who Took Wife to Switzerland For Assisted Suicide Not Charged Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 4
, 2007

Ottawa, Canada ( — A Canadian man who took his wife to an assisted suicide facility in Switzerland so she could kill herself will not be charged. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have cleared retired Anglican minister Eric MacDonald of any charges in connection with his wife’s death.

MacDonald accompanied his wife Elizabeth to Zurich and she died in his arms on June 8 after taking a lethal cocktail of drugs to kill herself.

Because assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the death did not occur on Canadian soil, the RCMP determined no crime was committed. Had the assisted suicide occurred in Canada, those involved could have gone to jail for as much as 14 years.

"There was no one that actively participated in getting her to the clinic in Switzerland or were instrumental in orchestrating that whole thing," Const. Les Kakonyi told the CBC.

"It would appear that this was done through her insistence and primarily through her own wishes," he added.

Responding to the news, Eric MacDonald told the CBC, ‘I said from the beginning that I haven’t done anything wrong."

"It’s certainly a relief," he added, saying he would now try to "get on" with his life.

He said his wife may have had second thoughts about killing herself if she had known he would potentially be charged with her death.

"She might have had second thoughts about it if she knew police would get involved," he said.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, also responded to the decision. His group filed the complaint that led to the police investigation after seeing mention of the assisted suicide center in Elizabeth’s obituary.

"We believe they fulfilled their role," he told the Herald newspaper of the police efforts to investigate. "We believe due process has taken place."

Elizabeth MacDonald, was who 38 when she died, suffered from a severe form of multiple sclerosis that left her in a wheelchair.