Wednesday, September 22, 2021

California judge rejects preliminary injunction to permit euthanasia within the California assisted suicide act.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A California federal judge has rejected a preliminary injunction asking the court to permit euthanasia within the state assisted suicide act. Link to the court decision (Link).

On August 30 I wrote an article about the California court case to permit euthanasia within the state assisted suicide act. The case argued that some people with disabilities, who are approved for assisted suicide, are unable to self-administer the lethal drugs. Therefore, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the court must permit euthanasia (doctor administered death) in these cases.

On September 13 I wrote that the California court must reject the challenge to the state assisted suicide act based on (among other reasons):

  1. There is no right to assisted suicide, therefore there is no legal requirement to amend the perceived inequality within the state assisted suicide law. 
  2. The Supreme Court, in Glucksberg, recognized that there is no right to assisted suicide and it recognized that one state interests in prohibiting assisted suicide was the prevention of euthanasia. This court case specifically seeks to permit euthanasia.  
  3. Permitting euthanasia is not an extension of the state assisted suicide law but rather it requires the court to legislate a new law, that being legalizing euthanasia, which is a form of homicide.

On September 20 Justice Vince Chhabria of the United States District Court Northern District Of California rejected a preliminary injunction to permit death by lethal injection (euthanasia) for the plaintiffs. Justice Chhabria stated:

The plaintiffs' ADA claim does not raise a serious legal question, because it seems clear (at least on this record) that the plaintiffs are seeking a modification that would compromise the essential nature of California's program.
Justice Chhabria also makes a clear distinction between euthanasia and assisted suicide by stating:

And most relevant here, the Legislature drew a clear line between assisted suicide and euthanasia, providing that a terminally ill person cannot obtain a prescription unless they can administer the medication themselves and specifying that there is no immunity from criminal or civil liability for someone who administers the medication to a terminally ill person.
Justice Chhabria concludes his decision by stating:
In short, the line between assisted suicide and euthanasia is a significant one. See Washington v. Glucksberg... (1997). It is unlikely that the ADA could be reasonably contrued as requiring a state to cross the line to euthanasia merely because the state has chosen to authorize assisted suicide. Requiring the State of California to cross the line here would likely compromise the essential nature of the end-of-life program it created.

Link to the court decision (Link).

Link to my previous articles about this court case (Link 1) (Link 2).

1 comment:

gordon friesen said...

Excellent ! So nice to see some positive news.

For the future, it will be important to argue that modern computer technology makes it possible for any conscious person to take the last step in his or her own suicide (with assistance in setting up the necessary conditions) and therefore : there is no reasonable "accessibility" argument for expansion to euthanasia.

Gordon Friesen, Montreal