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Euthanasia Group Challenges Minnesota Assisted Suicide Ban

by Alex Schadenberg | St. Paul, MN | LifeNews.com | 12/31/12 2:12 PM

State

An article in the Huffington Post that was written by Amy Forliti and published on December 18 under the title: Right to Die group wants Minnesota charges dismissed, concerns The Final Exit Network (FEN) who challenging the constitutionality of the assisted suicide law in Minnesota in an attempt to overturn criminal charges against their members.

A previous article entitled: Who are the Final Exit Network provides information in relation to this article.

The Final Exit Network and its leaders were indicted for assisting the suicide of Doreen Dunn in May 2007. Link to an article.

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the appeal of the conviction of William Melchert Dinkel in the assisted suicide deaths of Nadia Kajouji, an 18 year old Canadian and Mark Drybrough (32) from Coventry England.

Melchert-Dinkel, a former nurse, was convicted of counselling suicide. He admitted to counselling people to commit suicide by internet.

Prosecutors in Minnesota charged four FEN leaders after investigating the death of Doreen Dunn.

Prosecutors say the defendants not only supported Doreen Dunn’s decision to kill herself in 2007, but provided her with information and support to follow through.

The Huffington Post article explains how the FEN intends to challenge the Minnesota assisted suicide law. The article states:

Final Exit members claim they do not encourage suicide, but that the act of giving information and emotional support could be interpreted as “encouraging” under a Minnesota law that makes it a felony for someone to intentionally assist, advise or encourage suicide.

Defense attorneys who appeared at a hearing Tuesday in Dakota County District Court argued that the statute is unconstitutional.

In documents filed ahead of the hearing, Final Exit Network general counsel Robert Rivas wrote that while the state may bar someone from “assisting” a suicide, it is unconstitutional for the state to ban “advising” or “encouraging” a suicide – pure speech.

It is interesting to note that Melchert-Dinkel also claimed that his communication by internet did not represent an assisted suicide but rather free speech. Link to a previous article.
The Huffington Post article states:

Prosecutors contend the statute is narrowly worded so advocates of suicide may freely speak their minds but that those who “intentionally” assist, encourage or advise suicide are breaking the law.

The Minnesota Supreme Court is already hearing the appeal of the conviction of William Melchert-Dinkel.

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Clearly the law needs to protect vulnerable people from groups like FEN who take advantage of vulnerable and depressed people by aiding, encouraging and counseling people to commit suicide.
Stephen Drake, from the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet has written extensively about the Final Exist Network:

LifeNews.com Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.