On October 19, 2015, a NY civil court judge rejected a lawsuit brought by three people who want to be allowed to commit suicide with the help of doctors. These people have illnesses that will probably kill them, but not necessarily within the six month period cited by Oregon, Washington, and Vermont laws as qualifying a patient for help with suicide. One has ALS, with which physicist Stephen Hawking has been living for more than 40 years. Another has AIDS, which can be managed for many years. The third, who has metastatic bladder cancer, may indeed be close to death, but we know that other people given terminal diagnoses by doctors have far outlived their prognoses . Yesterday’s ruling maintains the patient protections afforded by NY’s current law, which makes it a crime to assist in a suicide. The opinion holds that a patient’s civil rights are fully protected by his or her right to decline medical treatment.
Of course the proponents of assisted suicide have announced their intention to appeal.
While this ruling is very good news, two assisted suicide bills remain active in the NY legislature, and Compassion and Choice’s website makes it very clear that New York is the state where proponents of assisted suicide will concentrate their efforts this year.