Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Final Exit Network Seeks to Overturn Minnesota Assisted Suicide Law AGAIN!

Attorney Sara Buscher
Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA

The Final Exit Network (FEN) is an association of groups and individuals who assist the suicides of others by counseling, providing advice and providing the means for suicide.

Back in 2015, the Final Exit Network or FEN was found guilty, by a jury, of assisted suicide in the suicide of Doreen Dunn (57) in 2007, who was depressed but not terminally ill. The group was sentenced on August 24, 2015. FEN appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the Minnesota Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to no avail. They argued the Minnesota assisted suicide statute violated the free speech protections of the U.S. Constitution.

The statute, § 609.215 Subd. 1 says: “Whoever intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other's own life may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 15 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $30,000, or both.” In unrelated litigation the words “advise” and “encourages” (but not “assists”) were removed from the statute as unconstitutional on free speech grounds.

After exhausting their appeals of the 2015 jury verdict, FEN filed a federal lawsuit in the Minnesota District Court in 2018 seeking to have the Minnesota assisted suicide law ruled unconstitutional on free speech grounds. The District Court dismissed the case in 2019 because it was simply a repeat of the state appellate case they had lost. Once a decision is final, you don’t get “overs” under the legal doctrine of collateral estoppel.

Just last month (May 2021) FEN filed a new federal lawsuit with the Minnesota District Court seeking to invalidate the assisted suicide statute on free speech grounds. The legal arguments are the same as those in the 2018 suit that was dismissed, but the facts are different. No one has been charged or indicted. The suit seeks a court order to stop that from happening.

According to FEN’s complaint, the plaintiffs are FEN Exit Guides who visited the Minnesota home of an Exit Guide participant in May. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home minutes after the Exit Guides had arrived, stating they had received a call about an “assisted suicide” that was to take place. They seized the bags of the Exit Guides. According to FEN, no suicide was attempted and the conversation between the Exit Guides and persons in the home were an exchange of pleasantries.

Since then, deputies have refused to return the bags and have confirmed they obtained search warrants and searched the bags. They also confirmed they obtained warrants to conduct a forensic examination of a laptop in the backpack and an iPad in the travel bag.

FEN claims no assisted suicide was attempted and only protected speech occurred.  If I were to bet on an outcome, I’d say this will be dismissed for being filed too early.

We will keep you updated on this case.

Previous Final Exit Network articles:

  • US Supreme Court upholds conviction of assisted suicide group in Minnesota death (Link).  
  • Minnesota appeals court upheld conviction for assisted suicide (Link).

1 comment:

Moose said...

My brother-in-law, who is an ordained minister, told me recently that "God soundly rebuked me and said I was never to pray for death, only for life." Since God feels that strongly about it, who are we to try and help people die without fear of facing God on the other side who created and gave us all life?