Thursday, June 23, 2022

Judge rejects challenge to legalize euthanasia within California assisted suicide law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A California federal judge rejected a case designed to permit euthanasia within California's assisted suicide act. Lonny Shavelson, a doctor that solely focuses on assisted suicide and Sandra Morris, who lives with ALS, argued that the state's assisted suicide law discriminated against people who had difficulty self-ingesting the lethal assisted suicide drugs and to remedy the situation the state needed to permit euthanasia (lethal injection) in those cases. (Link to the decision)

A federal judge said he cannot allow an Americans with Disabilities Act carveout to California’s assisted suicide law that would let doctors assist people too weak or disabled to ingest end-of-life medication, finding that such a provision would “fundamentally alter” the law from conferring the ability to take your own life to having a doctor do it for you.
Dinzeo stated that Justice Chhabria rejected Shavelson's challenge. Dinzeo wrote:
Chhabria ruled the case could not proceed on the theory that it violates the ADA because the accommodation they seek would cross the boundary created by the End of Life Option Act, “from the ability to end your own life to the ability to have someone else end it for you.”

Chhabria wrote, “Such an accommodation would ‘compromise' the essential nature of the act, and would therefore fundamentally alter the program.’”

The judge said the law’s self-administration requirement is the “final safeguard” to ensure the act remains voluntary.

“A person seeking to end their life pursuant to the act can opt out at any point — after requesting or receiving the prescription, after the drugs are in their hand, after the feeding tube has been installed, after saying goodbye,” he wrote. “The accommodation that the plaintiffs seek would significantly undermine these protections by opening a window during which there would be no way of knowing whether the patient had changed their mind.”

On September 13, 2021 I wrote that the federal judge must reject the challenge to the state assisted suicide act based on the following rationale: 
  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 interest 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 the legalization of euthanasia, which is a form of homicide.

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

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