Law against assisted suicide upheld in New York

A case which sought to overturn New York’s state law against assisted suicide has been unanimously struck down.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled 5-0 against plaintiffs who argued they had a right to assisted suicide under the state’s Constitution.

Three terminally ill patients and a pro-euthanasia group brought the case.


The Court ruled that: “Contrary to plaintiffs’ claim, we have never defined one’s right to choose among medical treatments, or to refuse life-saving medical treatments, to include any broader ‘right to die'”.

“We have consistently adopted the well-established distinction between refusing life-sustaining treatment and assisted suicide”, it added.

It went on to say that NY State has an interest in “prohibiting intentional killing and preserving life; preventing suicide; maintaining physicians’ role as their patients’ healers; protecting vulnerable people from indifference, prejudice, and psychological and financial pressure to end their lives; and avoiding a possible slide towards euthanasia”.

No high court in the United States has ever ruled that there is a constitutional right to assisted suicide.

New Mexico

In March the New Mexico Senate voted against introducing the practice by 22 votes to 20.

Dauneen Dolce, Executive Director of Right to Life New Mexico, said opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide had stopped the “culture of death” from coming to New Mexico.

Assisted suicide is legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, and Vermont.

The law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland states that a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

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