Assisted Suicide Litigation To Be Filed in New York

The news came in through Twitter today (h/t to Stephen Mendelsohn of Second Thoughts CT) that there will be a press conference tomorrow announcing that End of Life Choices of New York is filing an assisted suicide lawsuit.  One tweet says it involves three patients and three doctors.

We don’t have more details yet, but the case may resemble similar cases brought in Montana, Connecticut and New Mexico.  The results of those cases have not been all they have been cracked up to be, contrary to the exaggerated claims coming from assisted suicide advocates.

For example, assisted suicide proponents often claim that Montana legalized assisted suicide, but actually the state Supreme Court merely said that the consent of the victim could be raised by a doctor as a defense in a homicide prosecution.  This is not the kind of blanket immunity that the Oregon assisted suicide statute confers, and so it does not really constitute legalization.

The Connecticut court dismissed the case brought in that state, as previously discussed in our blog:

[T]he Connecticut court viewed this as more appropriate for legislative than judicial action, stating:

Legislative determination is particularly important given the significant medical legal and ethical concerns about legalized physician assisted suicide that have been raised across the country. Among the other difficult and important public policy concerns that the legislature would have to evaluate – and is uniquely positioned in our system of government to evaluate – are the following:

–           Whether physician-assisted suicide threatens the most vulnerable in society, including the poor, the elderly, and the disabled, who are at risk of being threatened, coerced, or influenced to end their lives to spare their families the financial costs and emotional strain of caring for them; …

–           Whether physician-assisted suicide shifts the focus of physicians and insurers away from vitally important measures such as identifying and treating depression and providing end-of-life pain control and palliative care; . . .–           Whether physician-assisted suicide undermines the physician-patient relationship and the integrity of the medical profession by eroding patient trust in the doctor’s role as healer;…

–           Whether physician-assisted suicide opens the door to the possibility of involuntary euthanasia, as has occurred in the Netherlands, because “what is couched as a limited right to ‘physician-assisted suicide’ is likely, in effect, a much broader license which could prove extremely difficult to police and contain,” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 733 (1997). (Blick Decision on Motion to Dismiss.)

The New Mexico ruling affected one judicial district and is currently on appeal.  A substantial number of national disability rights organizations filed a friend of the court brief in that matter last summer.

Interested members of the press should contact our spokespeople for further reactions to the New York case as details emerge.

2 thoughts on “Assisted Suicide Litigation To Be Filed in New York

  1. If they’re taking the same tack as they have in the UK, three test cases ASKING for a change in the law get filed at the same-ish time.
    The cases of:
    Debbie Purdy
    Tony Nicklinson
    Paul Lamb
    were those in the UK. Its like a game of chess….when one case fails, they use the arguments in the first judgement, and tailor the second case to ‘fit’ the argument so that it makes the original judgement look lacking.

    Here, they had to start by getting rid of a clause in the Suicide Act.
    They then used political influence to get the state agency who decide whether to prosecute someone or not (the Crown Prosecution Service ) to define a set of circumstances under which they would NOT prosecute someone for helping someone to kill themselves (which you can read here : )

    its a game of chess…and they exist in the cracks that nebulously worded judgements contain.

    They have effectively lost the Assisted Dying bill in the UK this year at a least.
    Due to the processes with which we bring new laws onto the statutes, there is a first reading, and then the Lords go through the bill line by line and table amendments. These then all have to be discussed. If there is no time left within the lifetime of the current parliament, the entire process has to be repeated in the next parliament.
    About 100 ‘amendments ‘ were filed for the current AD Bill, and as the General Election is in May this year, there simply will not be time to discuss all of them . They’ll have a new bill after the election , and the entire process will simply start again.

  2. Oh, and by the way – the CPS guidance says ” the Director published the policy after taking account of thousands of responses received as part of what is believed to be the most extensive snapshot of public opinion on assisted suicide since the Suicide Act 1961 was introduced. Nearly 5,000 responses were received by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following the consultation exercise launched in September 2009.”


    They won’t release copies of the submissions they had to this public consultation under the Freedom of Information Act Request… ..
    or even the IP addresses of all email submissions.
    We have a strong suspicion they are ALL coming from one organisation and its scattered supporters all over the world…and that’s ‘DignityinDying’ – which is run by Michael Irwin of the VES/Exit/Hemlock Soc !

    Wonder if your state organisations are also being bombarded with fake submissions too??????

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