CT Court Protects Vulnerable from Assisted Suicide

Medical Suicide Ramifications and Law Reserved for the Legislature 

HARTFORD,CT, June 10, 2010 -- On Tuesday, a superior court in Connecticut dismissed an attempt by Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) to overturn a law banning assisted suicide in that state. In Connecticut, it is a form of manslaughter to assist someone in ending their life.

The commission that drafted the law noted that it "is aimed at such situations as aiding, out of the feelings of sympathy, the suicide of one inflicted with a painful and incurable disease." The Compassion and Choices attorney, Daniel Krisch, argued that the law should not apply to physicians because they "don't act out of sympathy. Doctors act out of the best medical judgment."

Judge Julia Aurigemma ruled that there was no question that the law applied to doctors and the issues raised in the case could only be handled by the state legislature.The suit was defended by the state, and disability rights groups were among the interveners arguing that granting doctors the right to take lives would be dangerous for people with severe disabilities.

According the the Harford Current, Judge Aurigemma listed a number of concerns that the legislature would have to consider before chaning the law. Among them were:

  • Would physician-assisted suicide threaten the most vulnerable people in society? If so, how could they be protected from pressure or coercion?
  • Would it shift doctors' and insurers' focus away from treating depression and providing pain control and palliative care?
  • Would allowing doctors to help patients die erode patient trust in the doctor's role as a healer?
  • Would it open the door to the possibility of involuntary euthanasia?

"The legislature is the most appropriate body to evaluate these important questions as well as a host of other complex issues," Aurigemma wrote.

In 2008, the Montana Supreme Court brushed aside such concerned and legalized assisted suicide in that state by judicial fiat.

Physician-assisted is also legal in Oregon and Washington.

 



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