Connecticut Court Holds Hearing on Lawsuit to Overturn Assisted Suicide Ban

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 9, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Connecticut Court Holds Hearing on Lawsuit to Overturn Assisted Suicide Ban

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 9
, 2010

Hartford, CT ( — A state judge held a hearing on Monday in the first step of a lawsuit by euthanasia advocates seeking to overturn the Connecticut ban on assisted suicides. Should they be successful, the northeastern state could become the fourth after Oregon, Washington, and Montana to allow assisted suicides.

During the hearing, attorneys for the state sought to convince Judge Julia Aurigemma that the state legislature, and not state courts, is the proper venue for deciding assisted suicide law.

Gary Blick and Ronald Levine, two Fairfield County doctors, brought the lawsuit with the support of the pro-euthanasia group Compassion & Choices and state attorneys are hoping Judge Aurigemma will dismiss it.

According to a report in The Day newspaper, Perry Zinn-Rowthorn, an associate attorney general, argued the court should not determine "by advisory opinion what the legislature has consistently refused to do."

Zinn-Rowthorn also pointed to a measure in the state legislature that attempted to legalize abortion that had 14 pages of regulations and safeguards and warned that overturning the assisted suicide ban would lead to a free-for-all targeting the terminally ill and elderly.

"We don’t have any of those safeguards," he said, according to the newspaper. "It would be dangerous, from a public health policy (standpoint), to issue this type of sweeping public policy change by declaration."

Attorney Daniel Krisch represented the pro-euthanasia doctors and argued the state should allow people to make their own decision about whether to get help from a physician to kill themselves using lethal drugs.

"Judges aren’t supposed to legislate … are we really asking the court to do that here?" the judge asked Krisch.

Krisch, according to the paper, responded that there is some doubt about the clarity of the law.

During the hearing, officials for the Connecticut Catholic Conference also testified as they are seeking permission from Judge Aurigemma to intervene in the case and help the state defend the law.

A decision on whether to dismiss the pro-euthanasia lawsuit is expected within a couple of months.

The state of Washington recently released its new report showing at least 36 people died after they killed themselves under the first year of the state’s new law legalizing assisted suicides.

But physicians and anti-euthanasia groups took issue with it saying the law has opened up elder abuse and other problems.

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