Connecticut Doctors File Lawsuit Seeking to Force State to Allow Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Connecticut Doctors File Lawsuit Seeking to Force State to Allow Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 7
, 2009

Hartford, CT ( — Euthanasia advocates are making Connecticut the next state where they hope a lawsuit would nullify the law against allowing assisted suicides. Unable to get state legislatures to approve bills to legalize the practice, they’ve filed suit in Montana and Connecticut is the next battleground.

Lawyers for the pro-euthanasia group Compassion & Choices recruited two Connecticut physicians, Gary Blick of Norwalk and Ronald Levine of Greenwich, to push the lawsuit.

The Fairfield County doctors are asking state courts to clarify the 40-year-old law that and asking that they prevent physicians form being prosecuted under it when they help patients kill themselves.

The law says someone is guilty of second-degree manslaughter if "he intentionally causes or aids another person, other than force, duress or deception, to commit suicide."

Kathryn Tucker, an attorney for C&C joined the doctors at a press conference today and told he Hartford Courant that the issue is ripe for the courts because they have never examined the law.

"Obviously, the crux of this case is what is suicide and what is aid in dying," she said.

Michael Culhane, a spokesman for the state’s Catholic bishops says he is asking pro-life attorneys whether the Connecticut Catholic Conference could be a party to the suit and oppose it in court.

"It’s the position of the Catholic Church that that is wrong," he told the newspaper. "The position of the Catholic Church over many, many years is that human life is sacred from conception to natural death."

Bioethics attorney Wesley J. Smith called the lawsuit hypocritical.

"The assisted suicide movement doesn’t give a fig about consistency," he said.

"If people attack legalized suicide, they pound the podium and assert that we must respect state’s rights," he said. "But when states refuse to legalize assisted suicide–as in Montana–they file lawsuits hoping an activist judge will find a heretofore unheard of ‘right’ to assisted suicide."

"First came an attempt to impose assisted suicide nationally via U.S. Supreme Court fiat. That failed 9-0. Then, Florida, where the court also said no. Ditto, California and Alaska," he recounted. "Finally, pay dirt in Montana. And now, even though Connecticut got nowhere in the last legislative session in an attempt to legalize assisted suicide, the usual suspects want a judge to ‘interpret’ the law to permit doctors to help kill patients."

Smith says no one should confuse assisted suicide with legitimate medicine.

"Assisted suicide is providing the means or otherwise assisting that action, in this case, prescribing sufficient drugs to kill the patient in the knowledge that suicide is the patient’s intent. It isn’t prescribing drugs for a legitimate medical purpose, such as treating pain," he said.

"This should be a slam-dunk. Alas, with judges today, you never know what will happen," he added.

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