New York court upholds law protecting people from assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A New York State judge rejected a legal challenge to the state laws that protect people from assisted suicide. The New York Daily News reported that:

state civil judge Joan Kenney said that while she was sympathetic to their plight, their doctors would have to stay on the sidelines. 
Kenney said in her ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court has already found that New York state laws prohibit assisted suicide, and the statutes are not in violation of a patients civil rights. 
“In New York, as in most states, it is a crime to aid another to commit or attempt suicide,” Kenney said in her ruling. “But patients may refuse lifesaving medical treatment.” 
Doctors could face prison time if convicted of aiding a suicide.

The case was based on three people who are seeking to die by assisted suicide in New York.

Judge Kennedy joins three other judges in upholding state assisted suicide laws. In the past few months, a Tennessee Judge upheld the state assisted suicide law, the New Mexico court of appeal and two California judges have upheld laws that protect people from assisted suicide.

Not Dead Yet and Five Other National Disability Groups File Friend of the Court Brief in New Mexico Supreme Court in Assisted Suicide Case

Diane Coleman, President Not Dead Yet

Diane Coleman, President Not Dead Yet

This Press Release was published by Not Dead Yet on October 1, 2015.

[The October 1, 2015 press release below is also available online in PDF format through PRWeb here. The friend-of-the-court brief described in the release can be read here.]

Press Release

On September 30, 2015, Not Dead Yet and five other national disability rights organizations filed a friend-of-the-court in the New Mexico Supreme Court in support of the State Attorney General’s request that the state’s high court uphold a Court of Appeals ruling that physician assisted suicide is not a right under the state constitution. Joining in the Not Dead Yet brief are ADAPT, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the National Council on Independent Living and United Spinal, collectively referred to as the “Disability Amici.”

The case is Morris v. Brandenburg (S. Ct. No. 35,478) and the disability brief supports the Court of Appeals ruling, which was issued August 11, 2015 (Court of Appeals Case No. 33,630), and the State Attorney General, who is seeking to uphold the appellate ruling.

According to the brief filed in the New Mexico Supreme Court, “State-sanctioned assisted suicide degrades the value and worth of people with disabilities and violates the antidiscrimination rights, protections and mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.”

“Our basic position is that when some people get suicide prevention while other people get suicide assistance, and the difference is the person’s age, disability or health status, that’s a problem,” said Not Dead Yet’s president and CEO, Diane Coleman.

The dissent in the Court of Appeals decision that is the subject of the appeal to the state Supreme Court noted that the State Attorney General did not call witnesses or submit evidence of alleged any abuses in Oregon and Washington state where assisted suicide is legal. In their Supreme Court brief, the Disability Amici urge that, if the Court is not prepared to simply uphold the Court of Appeals at this stage, the Court should remand the case and allow one or more of the disability groups to assist the Attorney General or intervene as defendants in the case to ensure a full hearing of facts that were allegedly omitted in the original trial court.

Judge upholds assisted suicide law in Tennessee

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A Tennessee Judge, today, upheld the state law protecting people from assisted suicide. (Link to the decision).

Chancellor Carol McCoy, ruled today, that former Democrat politician, John Jay Hooker, does not have standing to bring action and challenge the Tennessee assisted suicide law.

The Tennessean reported McCoy as saying:

"The aid-in-dying prescription involves a script for a lethal dose of medication to cause quick death, not to provide palliative care to relieve physical pain and discomfort, as is allowed," 
"If the physicians intend to provide lethal drugs to end their patients' lives, they engage in criminal conduct."

According to the Tennessean, Hooker will continue lobbying for assisted suicide.

Last week, Hooker appeared in a wheelchair before the Davidson County Grand Jury. He presented his case, and asked the grand jury to request the state legislature to support his request to end his life with the help of a willing doctor. 
The jury issued its report earlier this week. It showed support for aid-in-dying legislation. 
"This Grand Jury overwhelming supports Mr. Hooker's desire to have the laws of Tennessee amended to permit a severely ill patient to have option to end his or her life, thus ending all the pain and suffering for the patient and his or her family," the report reads.

Hooker said he has forwarded the grand jury's report to the members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

In the past year the New Mexico court of appeal and two California judges have upheld laws that protect people from assisted suicide.

New Mexico Supreme Court to hear assisted suicide case

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On August 11, the New Mexico Court of Appeals handed a defeat to the right-to-die movement by reversing an activist lower-court ruling that legalized assisted suicide. In overturning the lower court decision, the Court of Appeals upheld the assisted suicide law in New Mexico.

The assisted suicide lobby appealed the Court of Appeals decision quickly the next week.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has now scheduled to hear the assisted suicide case on October 26.

The original case was based on a word game. The case argued that "aid in dying", which is also known as assisted suicide, is not prohibited by the New Mexico assisted suicide law because "aid in dying" is not assisted suicide.

The case argued, that if "aid in dying" is assisted suicide, then the New Mexico assisted suicide law is unconstitutional because it undermines the right to privacy and autonomy.

But, Aid in dying is assisted suicide and assisted suicide does not constitute medical treatment. Therefore prohibiting assisted suicide does not undermine the right to privacy or autonomy.

A similar case was dismissed by the Connecticut court in 2010.

New Mexico Supreme Court asked to hear assisted suicide decision

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On August 11, the New Mexico Court of Appeals handed a defeat to the right-to-die movement by reversing an activist lower-court ruling that legalized assisted suicide. In overturning the lower court decision, the Court of Appeals upheld the assisted suicide law in New Mexico.

Yesterday the assisted suicide lobby appealed the Court of Appeals decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

The case argued that "aid in dying", which is also known as assisted suicide, is not prohibited by the New Mexico assisted suicide law because "aid in dying" is not assisted suicide.

The case argued, that if "aid in dying" is assisted suicide, then the New Mexico assisted suicide law is unconstitutional because it undermines the right to privacy and autonomy.

But, Aid in dying is assisted suicide and assisted suicide does not constitute medical treatment. Therefore prohibiting assisted suicide does not undermine the right to privacy or autonomy.

The case originally concerned Aja Riggs, a woman with uterine cancer, who said that she wanted to die by assisted suicide, and two doctors who were willing to prescribe lethal drugs. Riggs told the Albuqueque journal last December that she is now in remission. She is fortunate that the court did not give her an exemption to die by assisted suicide.

Since Riggs is in remission, the suicide lobby amended their claim. Now the case is based on Susan Brown, who has terminal cancer and David Bradley, who lives with ALS.

A similar case was dismissed by the Connecticut court in 2010.

Another California Judge rejects assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenber, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

The suicide lobby, in the past few weeks, has lost 3 court cases that challenged laws that protect people from assisted suicide in the US.

Yesterday, San Francisco Judge Ernest Goldsmith upheld the law that protects Californians from assisted suicide. Goldsmith said

he felt that by granting the petition he would be creating a judge-made law without input from constituents. He agreed the legislature would be better equipped to take on the issue. 
The judge repeatedly expressed concern Friday about the possibility that, if the law was changed, a patient who is suffering financially from a terminal illness would be able to choose to die simply because their family wasn’t able to afford their continued medical expenses.

The San Francisco case concerned a woman with cancer and a doctor who is willing to assist her suicide. The plaintiffs lawyer, Kathryn Tucker, is the former legal director for a leading suicide lobby group. 

Last week Wesley Smith reported that Tucker is trying to impose unfettered assisted suicide on Americans by way of the courts. Smith reported:

...Tucker ... called SB 128 an “outdated approach, seeking to replicate a measure adopted 21 years ago in Oregon.” In her view, litigation would be more effective than legislation. For example, if the plaintiffs prevail in Brody, Tucker says, “the same open practice of aid in dying will emerge in California … [without] burdensome requirements for collecting and reporting data.”

SB 128 is the assisted suicide bill that the suicide lobby is currently pushing California legislators to approve.

Link to the full article

California assisted suicide bill SB 128 may not be dead

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On July 7 I reported that the California assisted suicide bill SB 128 appears to have died a peaceful death. In the article I wrote:

California assisted suicide bill SB 128 appears to have died a peaceful death in the California House after Democrat legislators, in the Health Committee, opposed it based on opposition from the disability community and the Latino community.
Margaret Dore

Margaret Dore

Margaret Dore, an elder law attorney and President of Choice is an Illusion believes that even though assisted suicide bill SB 128 stalled in the Assembly Health Committee, that it may soon be debated in the California House

Dore quotes from a Town Hall Conference Call where the assisted suicide lobby campaign manager urges their supporters to keep working. The campaign manager said:

"When . . . the legislature come[s] back from break in the middle of August, we’re going to be ready to go. We’re going to pick up and move the bill forward and we do expect to get to a vote on the Assembly floor this year. We still think we have a very strong chance to pass this bill and get it to the governor's desk, and see him sign it into law this year."

Dore is taking this threat very seriously and I am also. California assisted suicide bill SB 128 may go to a vote on the floor of the California Assembly as early as next week.

Link to the full article