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Defending and Protecting End-of-Life Options in the Courts

Compassion & Choices’ legal cases defend and expand access to medical aid-in-dying laws.

Ahn v. Hestrin, California

On June 16, a superior court ruled that a lawsuit to overturn the California End of Life Option Act will proceed to trial to determine the case’s merits.

Last year, the court accepted a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of Compassion & Choices urging it to deny the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. Thankfully, the court rejected the motion, as well as a prior motion for a temporary restraining order, so the law remains in effect for now.

“Overturning the End of Life Option Act would have devastating consequences for terminally ill Californians and their families,” said Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion & Choices.

Kligler v. Healey, Massachusetts

On June 5, a Massachusetts judge rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Compassion & Choices asserting the state constitution protects, and existing state law does not bar, mentally capable, terminally ill adults from getting a prescription for aid-in-dying medication.

“My wife, Cathy, and I are elated with this initial ruling,” said lead plaintiff Dr. Roger Kligler, who suffers from stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision because it will allow our clients to challenge the constitutionality of the law without having to take actions that could risk prosecution by an aggressive district attorney,” said John Kappos, a partner at the O’Melveny law firm, which together with the Morgan Lewis law firm and Compassion & Choices represents the plantiffs in the case. “We need the court to clarify the law because the prosecution threat is real to physicians who provide medical aid in dying to terminally ill patients … and patients’ senseless suffering without this option is equally real.”

To learn more about Compassion & Choices in the courts, visit CompassionAndChoices.org/ legal-resources.