The ongoing battle to legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts has been passed back to the state’s liberal legislature after a court ruling.
Massachusetts Superior Court ruled last week there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide and kicked the volatile issue back to state lawmakers, a decision applauded by many.
Andrew Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute says the legal fight dates back to a lawsuit filed by Dr. Roger Kligler, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, given six months to live, but was alive this week to learn the court ruling.
“The good news for the doctor, not good news for his legal case,” Beckwith explains, “was that about three years ago he got an updated diagnosis where the cancer levels had gone down. So now his prognosis had changed from less than six months to live to years.”
Opponents of assisted suicide have pointed out that Dr. Kligler has enjoyed three more years of life despite demanding the legal right to include a licensed physician in his life-ending decision.
Dr. Kligler and a second physician, Dr. Alan Steinback, who treats terminally ill patients, filed the civil lawsuit together, Boston’s WBUR reported.
WBUR reported the state’s attorney general’s office opposed the lawsuit, arguing that lawmakers and not the courts should decide how to tackle the issue.
An end-of-life measure in 2012 concluded with a narrow loss: 51 percent opposed it and 49 percent voted in favor.
“This is something that the legislature has been evaluating for years now,” Beckwith says. “We've been fighting it there for at least a decade."
Attorneys for the two plaintiffs vowed to appeal the court ruling but also said they were pleased the court ruled doctors have the legal right to share life-ending information with patients.