Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Georgia Court Rules for Suicide Proponents
What comes next, now that the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously has sided with suicide proponents who said their free speech rights were violated by a state law criminalizing assisting in suicide?
Four members of the Final Exit Network will not stand trial on charges that they assisted in the death of a 58-year-old cancer patient. The Supreme Court's ruled that Georgia law violates free speech clauses of the U.S. and state constitutions.
And yet Georgia doesn’t actually forbid assisted suicide, but since 1994 has banned publicly advertising it, apparently in response to concerns that the state might become known as an assisted-suicide destination. As such, Georgia law seems something of a don’t ask, don’t tell for assisted suicide.
The suicide at issue did not involve a physician’s prescription, but a tank of helium and an “exit hood.” The court said lawmakers could have banned all assisted suicides without restricting speech, or banned offers to assist in suicide that were followed by the act.
"The State has failed to provide any explanation or evidence as to why public advertisement or offer to assist in an otherwise legal activity is sufficiently problematic to justify an intrusion on protected speech rights," the ruling said.
Physician-assisted suicide, which will be on the ballot in Massachusetts in November, already has voter approval and is practiced in Oregon and Washington, while the Montana Supreme Court has deemed it acceptable medical treatment. In Hawaii, a legislative effort to legalize the practice stalled last year, and the state attorney general recently said a physician assisting in a suicide “could be charged under Hawaii's manslaughter statute."
Will Georgia lawmakers now specifically address the legality of assisted suicide? And does the Georgia ruling have any ramifications for Massachusetts?
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/06/ga-court-overturns-assisted-suicide-restrictions-1677804893/#ixzz1ldSzck00
By Paul McLean at 10:08 AM