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Euthanasia Prevention Coalition-USA files brief to Massachusetts Supreme Court in the Kligler assisted suicide case.

by | Feb 22, 2022

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Directive, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In January 2020 the assisted suicide lobby appealed a Massachusetts Superior court decision which found that there was no right to assisted suicide in Massachusetts. 

Recently the Massachusetts Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and yesterday, EPC-USA submitted a brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Court in this case. 

The case known as Kligler concerns Dr. Roger Kligler, who is living with prostate cancer and seeking death by assisted suicide, and Dr. Alan Schoenberg, who is willing to prescribe lethal drugs for Kligler to die by assisted suicide.  Kligler who claimed to be terminally ill when launching the case in 2016 remains alive today.

Kligler and Schoenberg are arguing that doctors cannot be prosecuted for prescribing lethal drugs for assisted suicide to a competent terminally ill person under the Massachusetts state constitution.

The EPC-USA brief argues the following:

  • There is no fundamental right to physician-assisted suicide in the Massachusetts Constitution.

The Appellants seek to establish a previously unrecognized right to “medical aid in dying,” where a doctor prescribes lethal medication for use in committing suicide. But the widespread prohibition—not acceptance—of assisted suicide is deeply rooted in Massachusetts’ and the Nation’s history and tradition. And the vast majority of states and secular medical associations oppose it today.

  • There is a fundamental difference between refusing medical treatment and assisted suicide.

Creating a right to physician-assisted suicide would not be a mere expansion of the right to refuse life-saving treatment. The right to reject treatment is based on the common-law right to reject a battery. And death occurs, if at all, by natural causes. Assisted suicide is different: it invites the intrusion of a lethal agent into the patient’s body, intentionally causing death.

  • A right to assisted suicide cannot be a limited right as claimed by the appellants.

Appellants are wrong to suggest a constitutional right to assisted suicide could be limited to a narrow class of people. And that would create problems courts are not equipped to solve.

In other words, if there is a right to assisted suicide then it would be discriminatory to limit that right to certain groups of people, such as people who are terminally ill.

At the time, of the lower court hearing, the Massachusetts Attorney General argued that this is a legislative not a judicial issue. 

EPC-USA warns that this case could overturn the US Supreme Court‘s 1997 Glucksberg decision which found that there was no right to assisted suicide but a state had the right to legislate on the issue.

EPC-USA worked with ADF to prepare the Amicus brief to the Massachusetts Supreme Court in this case.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Assisted Suicide