New York Court rules against assisted suicide
8 September 2017
The Court of Appeals said that the State has a legitimate interest in prohibiting assisted suicide.
A challenge to New York's ban on assisted suicide has been unanimously defeated.
Yesterday, New York's highest court rejected the argument that there is a fundamental constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide in New York state.
In the case of Myers v. Schneiderman, plaintiffs including three terminally ill patients and a euthanasia lobby group sued the state of New York in 2015 for the right to die under the supervision of doctors, claiming it was their right to do so under the state Constitution.
No "right to die"
In a unanimous verdict, the Court of Appeals rejected the claim, stating:
"Contrary to plaintiffs' claim, we have never defined one's right to choose among medical treatments, or to refuse life-saving medical treatments, to include any broader "right to die" or still broader right to obtain assistance from another to end one's life.
We have consistently adopted the well-established distinction between refusing life-sustaining treatment and assisted suicide."
According to Alex Schadenburg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the assisted suicide lobby is attempting to redefine the term "aid-in-dying" by claiming it is not a form of suicide or assisted suicide - a tactic which failed in this case. The Court concluded that, according to the commonly understood definition of the term, "aid-in-dying falls squarely within the ordinary meaning of the statutory prohibition on assisting a suicide."
Preserving life and protecting the vulnerable
The Court further noted that the State has a legitimate interest in prohibiting assisted suicide:
"The State's interests in prohibiting assisted suicide include: "prohibiting intentional killing and preserving life; preventing suicide; maintaining physicians' role as their patients' healers; protecting vulnerable people from indifference, prejudice, and psychological and financial pressure to end their lives; and avoiding a possible slide towards euthanasia."
The ruling means that New York joins State Florida, New Mexico, and other states in rejecting state constitutional claims - in fact no high court in the USA has ever ruled that there is a constitutional right to assisted suicide.
News in brief: