Last year we posted news stories about the Idaho legislature’s passing a bill that would outlaw assisted suicide and about . Now Georgia is attempting to do the same thing. True Dignity Vermont hopes they succeed. Here’s the AP report.
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012
Ga. lawmakers want to outlaw assisted suicide
By GREG BLUESTEIN and DORIE TURNER – Associated Press
ATLANTA — State lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would outlaw assisted suicide in the wake of a recent Georgia Supreme Court ruling that destroyed a long-running criminal case against members of a suicide group.
House Bill 1114 would make it a felony to “knowingly and willfully” assist another person in committing suicide.
Under the new legislation, violators would face between one and 10 years in prison if convicted. The bill doesn’t exempt doctors – as other states have – and requires that health care providers who violate the statute lose their license to practice.
Three sponsors of the bill did not immediately return calls for comment.
The Feb. 6 Supreme Court decision struck down a 1994 law, which banned people from publicly advertising suicide. The law was adopted by lawmakers hoping to prevent right-to-die supporters from offering their services in the state.
The Supreme Court’s ruling meant four members of the Final Exit Network who were charged in February 2009 with helping a 58-year-old cancer patient die won’t have to stand trial.
Supporters of assisted suicide are mindful that any proposal could change drastically under the Gold Dome and worry that lawmakers could take the new measure too far.
“I hope they don’t do anything draconian, and I hope the rights of the people of Georgia will be preserved and they will responsibly craft safeguards to limit what they are afraid of,” said Ted Goodwin, one of the four defendants charged by Georgia authorities with violating the 1994 law. “I do understand what they want to accomplish and that is not to have people coming into Georgia and assisting in suicides.”
Lawmakers should still allow some patients who seek to end their lives and who consult with doctors and their families to do so, he said.
Prosecutors say Goodwin and other group members helped John Celmer use an “exit hood” connected to a helium tank to kill himself. They were arrested after an eight-month investigation by state authorities, in which an undercover agent posing as someone seeking to commit suicide infiltrated the group.
The Final Exit Network members said the law only punishes those involved in assisted suicides if they speak publicly about it and does nothing to block an assisted suicide from being carried out by those who stay silent. The charges against the group were tossed after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the law.
Voters in Oregon and Washington have legalized doctor-assisted suicide, and Montana’s Supreme Court determined that assisted suicide is a medical treatment. But most other states adopted laws that call for prison time for those found guilty of assisting suicides.
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