Friday, March 29, 2019

Massachusetts Court case seeks to legalize assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Masslive published a report by Shira Schoenberg concerning the court case that has been launched to overturn the Massachusetts assisted suicide law. According to Schoenberg, Roger Kligler, who is living with cancer, and Dr. Alan Steinbach launched a lawsuit to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts.

This is not the first time similar lawsuits have been filed. There have been several lawsuits that were simply dismissed by the court, while others were heard with the finding that there is no right to assisted suicide.

The Baxter case in Montana didn't legalize assisted suicide but the Montana Supreme Court created a "defense of consent" for Montana physicians and an activist judge in New Mexico found a right to assisted suicide in that state, but her decision was overturned by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Schoenberg reported that Kligler and Steinbach asked the court to overturn the Massachusetts assisted suicide law:

Kligler and Alan Steinbach, a doctor who wants to write lethal prescriptions for terminally ill patients, have sued Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, arguing that criminal prosecution of a doctor for prescribing a lethal dose of medication to a competent, terminally ill patient is illegal under the state constitution. Today, a Massachusetts doctor who prescribes a lethal dose of medication could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Schoenberg reported that the Massachusetts Attorney General believes that the issue of assisted suicide is properly a legislative decision. The article reported:
Assistant Attorney General Robert Quinan said Healey has not taken a position on whether physician-assisted suicide is good or bad policy. But, he said, it is not for Healey — or the court — to decide. The plaintiffs, he said, want “to resolve through litigation a policy dispute that’s properly reserved for the Legislature.”
Nancy Houghton and John Kelly
Disability rights activists, John Kelly from the disability right group Second Thoughts and Nancy Houghton from the disability rights group ADAPT told Schoenberg in the interview:

“There’s no safeguard in place or possible that could prevent the loss of lives due to misdiagnosis, insurer treatment denial, depression and coercion and other forms of abuse,” said John Kelly, director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, a group of disability rights advocates who oppose assisted suicide. 
Nancy Houghton, who is on the board of the Massachusetts chapter of the disability rights group ADAPT, said she was told she had three to five years to live when she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease. That was 15 years ago.

“If I had listened to the doctors back then, I could be dead now,” she said.
There is no right to assisted suicide in the US or Massachusetts. Legalizing assisted suicide gives doctors the right in law to be involved with killing their patients.

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