Monday, March 8, 2010

Connecticut Seeks to Define Assisted Suicide.

On Monday the Connecticut courts began examination of the laws forbidding assisted suicide. A case that seeks to determine aid in dying as separate from assisted suicide has been brought by two doctors in that state:

On Monday, judges will begin deciding what suicide means or dismiss the case on whether state law applies to doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

Two doctors and end-of-life advocates filed a lawsuit filed to get some clarification on the state's ban on assisted suicide and hope it prevent second-degree manslaughter charges for doctors who prescribe medication to help patients end their own lives, the New Haven Register reports.

Fairfield doctors Gary Blick and Ronald Levine regularly care for the dying, according to court papers and said they said fear of being prosecuted stopped the doctors from giving dying patients medications that would aid a peaceful death.

The state is working to convince the judge that the issue of assisted suicide is best left to the legislature. It's the same route the Montana state attorney took in that case last year.

More info From the Hartford Courant.

WTIC provides some background on the suit, noting the involvement of the Connecticut Catholic Conference:

Separately, the Connecticut Catholic Conference asked the judge to become a party to the lawsuit. The judge has yet to rule on that request.

Connecticut Catholic Conference lawyer Lorinda Coon said the lawsuit is a backdoor effort to legalize doctor-assisted suicide in Connecticut.

The Catholic Church opposes suicide.

From the Christian site LifeNews, an interesting quote from Perry Zinn-Rowthorn, associate attorney general, that points to the religious opposition against aid in dying, linking it to abortion. As well, the site calls the doctors pro-euthanasia:

Zinn-Rowthorn also pointed to a measure in the state legislature that attempted to legalize abortion that had 14 pages of regulations and safeguards and warned that overturning the assisted suicide ban would lead to a free-for-all targeting the terminally ill and elderly.
"We don't have any of those safeguards," he said, according to the newspaper. "It would be dangerous, from a public health policy (standpoint), to issue this type of sweeping public policy change by declaration."
Attorney Daniel Krisch represented the pro-euthanasia doctors and argued the state should allow people to make their own decision about whether to get help from a physician to kill themselves using lethal drugs.
"Judges aren't supposed to legislate ... are we really asking the court to do that here?" the judge asked Krisch.

But by far the most interesting aspect of this suit is the way the Connecticut Catholic Conference is trying to work as co-defendents of the suit by petitioning to team up with the state. The church has a new boldness since their successful efforts during the summer to pass the Stupak amendment. In other areas around the country, they continue to fight patients' rights by taking over hospitals and ending reproductive services.

These and other instances of increased Catholic conservatism are strongly contrasted against their challenges last week, noted by Elissa Lerner at TheRevealer.

This motion to intervene has yet to be decided on but you can read the motion here.

And you can find all the briefs and additional information about the suit here.

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