Two doctors filed a lawsuit on Monday to be allowed to practice doctor-prescribed suicide in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, according to the Associated Press.
The Cape Cod doctors, Dr. Roger Kligler and Dr. Alan Steinbach, argue that doctor-prescribed suicide – what they call “aid in dying” – should not be considered a criminal offense in the state, according to the Boston Herald.
The doctors are working with the pro-assisted suicide group Compassion & Choices, which is pushing for legalized doctor-prescribed across the U.S. Five states, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and California, already have laws or court rulings allowing the deadly practice. The laws allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to adult patients who are mentally competent and have a terminal illness.
Kligler has terminal cancer and wants to be able to obtain a lethal prescription to commit suicide in Massachusetts, and Steinbach wants to be able to prescribe the lethal drugs to patients who request it, according to the reports.
According to the Herald, the doctors want the court to hear the case quickly because of Kligler’s medical condition.
Here’s more from the Boston Herald:
Attorneys for the doctors argue that there is no law on the books that prohibits “medical aid in another person’s suicide.” However, citing a recent Supreme Judicial Court decision, they note that Massachusetts has prosecuted people who “encouraged or provided the means” for another person’s suicide.
They cite the still-pending case of Michelle Carter, a Plainville woman who as a teenager allegedly goaded her friend into killing himself. The SJC in July ruled that Carter must stand trial for involuntary manslaughter — a decision cited by the physicians in their suit.
“Massachusetts’ practice of prosecuting people who have encouraged or provided the means for another’s suicide creates uncertainty as to whether informing or advising patients regarding Medical Aid in Dying or providing a prescription for Medical Aid in Dying is also a prosecutable offense,” the suit states.
Anne Fox of Massachusetts Citizens for Life said most people in Massachusetts do not want doctor-prescribed suicide to be legal. They rejected measures to legalize the deadly procedure both in the legislature and in a ballot measure in 2012.
“We know that, when the death lobby cannot win by going to the people and the legislature, they go to the courts, just as they did with abortion,” Fox told LifeNews. “Now they are going to court claiming doctor prescribed suicide is not illegal in Massachusetts!
Disability rights advocates, medical professionals, pro-lifers, religious groups and many others have come together to oppose these deadly assisted suicide efforts. The legislation being put forth by Compassion & Choices does not have safeguards in place to protect the elderly, disabled and poor from abuses.
In states where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal, a growing number of sick people are being denied medical treatment coverage and offered assisted suicide instead. Most recently, Stephanie Packer, a California wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of scleroderma, said her insurance company refused to cover the cost of her medical treatment.
When Packer asked if they would cover the doctor-prescribed suicide drugs, the insurance company told her, “Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication.”
Packer said, “As soon as this law was passed — and you see it everywhere, when these laws are passed — patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this [assisted suicide] will always be the cheapest option.”