Kevin Sampson was an accountant who was diagnosed with HIV in 1985, which progressed into AIDS in 1992. After six short years, in 1998, Kevin was informed he was terminal. Jane Doe was a physician who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977. Despite surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, the cancer spread to her skin, bones, and liver by 1998, at which point she was informed that she was terminal. Both Kevin and Jane desired to die by medical aid in dying.
Kevin and Jane (“Plaintiffs”) filed suit in the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, in Alaska, asking the court to declare that medical aid in dying is not prohibited by law. Plaintiffs argued that medical aid in dying is not the same as assisted suicide, and that Alaska’s assisted suicide criminal statute infringed on their constitutional rights to privacy, liberty, and equal protection. After the Superior Court denied the motion, Plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court of the State of Alaska, which, unfortunately, upheld the Superior Court’s ruling.
Tragically, both Kevin and Jane died during the proceedings. While Sampson v. Alaska was not a victory for medical aid in dying, the state of Alaska is now looking at legalizing medical aid in dying through House Bill 54. Click here for more information regarding current efforts to legalize medical aid in dying in Alaska.