Connecticut Trial Court Rejects Attempt to Overturn Ban on Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Connecticut Trial Court Rejects Attempt to Overturn Ban on Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 7
, 2010

Hartford, CT ( — A Connecticut trial court judge rejected a lawsuit by euthanasia advocates seeking to overturn the Connecticut ban on assisted suicide. had the lawsuit been successful, it could have made the New England state the fourth after Oregon, Washington, and Montana to allow assisted suicides.

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 hoped Judge Julia Aurigemma would dismiss it.

Judge Aurigemma did just that — and dismissed the petition, although the backers of the lawsuit are expected to file an appeal.

The euthanasia advocates argued the state’s manslaughter statute, which explicitly criminalizes aiding another person in suicide, should not apply to physicians who provide “aid in dying” by prescribing lethal drugs to patients.

Mailee Smith, an attorney with Americans United for Life, said the argument "represents a new tactic by suicide advocates: attempting to redefine assisted suicide by creating new legal terminology and tricking the courts and the American public into legalizing physician-assisted suicide under a different name."

"However, the trial court saw through their ploy," she said.

The trial court issued what Smith said were several important conclusions, such as concluding that “the commentary and legislative history of the statute make it quite clear that assisting a suicide, even for humanitarian purposes, is a crime.”

The legislature intended the statute to apply to physicians who assist suicide, and intended the term “suicide” to include “self-killing by those who are suffering from unbearable terminal illness," the court ruled.

The court noted that this conclusion is bolstered by the multiple failed attempts by euthanasia advocates to have the legislature overturn the ban.

Because the statute and its meaning are so clear, the court ruled that there is no “controversy” — in other words, suicide advocates have no case, Smith explained.

Second, Smith said the court concluded that changing the assisted suicide ban to allow assisted suicides brings forth serious questions. They include whether assisted suicides threaten the most vulnerable in society, shifts the focus of physicians and insurers away from treating patients for physical and mental health concerns to making them advocates of death, and whether assisted suicide undermines the physician-patient relationship.

"The court also found that it is the legislature that is the most appropriate body to debate these important questions and that a preemptive declaration by the court would improperly deprive the legislature of its rightful opportunity and obligation to weigh these issues," Smith said.

Finally, the AUL attorney notes the court ruled that the euphemism "aid in dying" is not assisted suicide and not allowed by the statute.


Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.