Friday, December 13, 2013

Assisted suicide is being debated throughout the US

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director/International Chair, 
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In the last few weeks the issue of assisted suicide has been debated in at least four US states.

A New Mexico court heard the case Morris v. New Mexico (December 12 - 13), a case that seeks to legalize assisted suicide in New Mexico based on a word game.

Similar to the 2010 Connecticut court case, that was dismissed by the Connecticut court, the New Mexico case claims 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 argues, 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.

"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.

Similar to the Connecticut case, Morris v. New Mexico should be dismissed.

Meanwhile a Montana court was asked in an appeal on December 11, by the Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) to strike down a policy position of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners that implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.

The MAAS argue that the Montana Supreme Court did not legalize assisted suicide in its 2009 Baxter decision. The group also argues that the board implemented its new rule without sufficient public notice.

On December 13, District Court Judge Mike Menehan dismissed the appeal but he did address the Baxter assisted suicide decision.

In Massachusetts, hearings for a new assisted suicide bill (HB 1998) will be held on December 17.  HB 1998 is sponsored by state representative Louis Kafka (D). 

The issue of assisted suicide was on the Massachusetts ballot in November 2012 election. The Massachusetts voters rejected assisted suicide by a 51% to 49% margin.

HB 1998 should be defeated in committee. The people of Massachusetts voted and rejected assisted suicide.

In New Jersey assisted suicide Bills (A3328/S2259) are being debated.

Last week, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie stated that he opposes the New Jersey assisted suicide bill that is being promoted by Assemblyman Burzichelli.

Christie's opposition to state sanctioned suicide will hopefully cause a natural death for Burzichelli's assisted suicide bill.

Americans need to be more aware of the threat that assisted suicide poses nation-wide. Even though polls indicate that more Americans oppose assisted suicide than support it, very few Americans are aware of the push being mounted by the assisted suicide lobby.

Let's hope that the assisted suicide bills in New Jersey and Massachusetts are defeated and the court in New Mexico makes a good decision.

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