Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Hampshire, Canada and now, Connecticut

Assisted suicide/euthanasia backers are hitting a wall in 2010.

In January, the New Hampshire legislature defeated an Oregon-style “death with dignity” act by nearly 70% (242 to 113).

In April, the Canadian legislature soundly defeated Bill C-384, which would have legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada by nearly 80% (228 to 59).

In June, a lawsuit was dismissed in Connecticut, which sought to legalize assisted suicide.

The Connecticut lawsuit, Blick v. Connecticut, was in some ways, a word game. 

The complaint alleged that a Connecticut criminal statute, which prohibited intentionally causing or aiding a suicide, did not prohibit “aid in dying.” The argument was that aid in dying, a euphemism for assisted-suicide and euthanasia, was not “suicide” within the meaning of the statute. 

The trial court rejected this claim. (Memorandum of Decision on Motion to Dismiss, p.24) The court also raised “significant medical, legal, and ethical concerns” about assisted suicide. (Id., p.16) These concerns included whether legal assisted suicide is a threat to the elderly due to “undue influence, pressure or coercion,” and whether it will “open . . . the door to the possibility of involuntary euthanasia, as has occurred in the Netherlands.” (Id., p.17)

The court also noted:
“‘In almost every State–indeed, in almost every western democracy-it is a crime to assist a suicide.’” (Id., p.13)
The court ultimately held that determining whether assisted suicide should be legal is a matter for the legislature. (Id., p.26) It is not yet known whether suicide proponents will appeal.

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