End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Posts TaggedAid in Dying

Atty. Gen.’s home town newspaper criticizes Mancini prosecution, urges legislature to change end-of-life law

Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane’s home town newspaper, The [Scranton] Times-Tribune, and its sister paper, The [Towanda] Daily Review, editorialized today that the state legislature should revisit the state’s end-of-life law as a result of Kane’s unjust prosecution of Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for aiding suicide in the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father Joe Yourshaw.

The editorial must be a bitter pill for Kane to swallow since it criticized her for bringing the case and her statement about why she would not appeal a judge’s dismissal of the case:

“Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane attempted to cling to a rationale for her office’s wayward criminal prosecution of Barbara Mancini for alleged complicity in the supposed attempted suicide of her terminally ill father …

According to Ms. Kane, in a statement announcing the decision not to seek an appeal of the dismissal, Judge Russell had deemed inadmissible, as a matter of procedure, an incriminating statement by Mrs. Mancini that she had handed the drug to her father to fulfill his wish to die. More

NY Times: Easing Terminal Patients’ Path to Death, Legally

By ERIK ECKHOLM – FEB. 7, 2014

DENVER — Helping the terminally ill end their lives, condemned for decades as immoral, is gaining traction. Banned everywhere but Oregon until 2008, it is now legal in five states. Its advocates, who have learned to shun the term “assisted suicide,” believe that as baby boomers watch frail parents suffer, support for what they call the “aid-in-dying” movement will grow further.

In January, the New Mexico Supreme Court authorized doctors to provide lethal prescriptions and declared a constitutional right for “a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying.” Last May, the Vermont Legislature passed a law permitting it, joining Montana, Oregon and Washington. This spring, advocates are strongly promoting “death with dignity” bills in Connecticut and other states.

Public support for assisted dying has grown in the past half century but depends on terminology. In a Gallup Poll conducted in May last year, for example, 70 percent of respondents agreed that when patients and their families wanted it, doctors should be allowed to “end the patient’s life by some painless means.” In 1948, that share was 37 percent, and it rose steadily for four decades but has remained roughly stable since the mid-1990s.

To read the rest of the article, follow this link to the New York Times.


Advocates Lobby For Aid In Dying Legislation in Connecticut

by Hugh McQuaid | CT News Junkie | Jan 29, 2014


Portraits of “aid-in-dying” supporters will be displayed in the State Capitol for two weeks beginning Friday as part of this year’s push for legislation to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives.

Advocates of the proposal announced the new campaign to legalize the practice at a Wednesday morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building.

The photos will hang along the State Capitol concourse from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14 and feature advocates seeking legislation to permit terminally ill patients in Connecticut to end their lives with the help of a doctor. Each picture also will include a quote like “Quality of life includes peaceful death.”

Permitting a doctor to prescribe drugs to end the life of a terminally ill and mentally competent patient is legal in only a handful of states. Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and Montana all have laws permitting the practice. A court decision from earlier this month could make New Mexico the fifth state in which it is legal.

A group called Compassion and Choices Connecticut is hoping build on an effort that began in this state last year and see a bill raised during the legislative session that begins next week.

Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, and other lawmakers raised similar proposals last year which resulted in the first public hearing on the topic before Connecticut’s legislature. The hearing was widely attended and drew testimony from residents both for and against the law.

Ultimately the bill was never passed out of the Public Health Committee. Ritter said she’s urged the committee’s leadership to raise the bill again this year but that decision has yet to be made. Ritter and other supporters said it will take time for lawmakers to consider the issue. More

Court Rules Aid in Dying Is a Fundamental Right Under NM Constitution

Landmark Case May Set Precedent for Challenging “Assisted Suicide” Laws in Other States

(Albuquerque, N.M. – January 13, 2014) New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash today issued a landmark decision that terminally ill, mentally competent patients have a fundamental right to aid in dying under the substantive due process clause of the New Mexico State Constitution. This ruling protects the medical practice from prosecution in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. If affirmed, the ruling will impact the entire state.

Judge Nash explained her ruling as follows:

“This Court cannot envision a right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying. If decisions made in the shadow of one’s imminent death regarding how they and their loved ones will face that death are not fundamental and at the core of these constitutional guarantees, than [sic] what decisions are? … The Court therefore declares that the liberty, safety and happiness interest of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying is a fundamental right under our New Mexico Constitution.”

Nash’s ruling followed two days of trial testimony on Dec. 11-12 in a suit, Morris v. New Mexico, filed in the state’s Second Judicial District Court by the ACLU of New Mexico and Compassion & Choices on behalf of two physicians and a cancer patient. More

“Doctor, Please Help me Die”

by Barbara Coombs Lee
May 15, 2013

Dr. Tom Preston, a Compassion & Choices leader in Seattle, chose these poignant words for the title of his new book. They are powerful words, gripping even on paper. Imagine them emerging from the lips of a patient, perhaps one whom the doctor has treated over decades, who is now dying of cancer. They strike right at the core of a physician’s identity, training and moral compass.

Preston knows well that each person, each healer and each caregiver responds to such a request from patient or loved one from the deepest parts of their own authentic being. He begins his book quoting Dumbledore, who in the last Harry Potter book pleaded with Snape to cut his dying short. “You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,” the wizard tells his reluctant friend. So it is with every doctor In America. More