From the USA we received the news that Georgia’s attorney general (AG) Samuel S Olens advised that his state’s law against “assisting a suicide” does not cover aid in dying. His brief filed in a case pending before the Georgia Supreme Court (against four members of Final Exit Network) represents that the statute does not reach private acts between patients and their physicians. The AG filed this brief, stating the law prohibits assisting a suicide only when the person assisting also “publicly advertises” an offer to assist, but would not apply to private treatment decisions reached between doctor and patient. Accordingly, Georgia’s assisted suicide prohibition does not reach the conduct of a physician who writes a prescription in response to a terminally ill patient’s private request for aid in dying. Georgia’s AG thus states that physician aid in dying is not prohibited by an assisted suicide law.
Compassion & Choices comments on this development:
Aid in dying is affirmatively permitted by statute in the states of Oregon and Washington and by court decision in Montana. A recent review of Hawaii’s statutory landscape concluded nothing in that state’s law currently prohibits aid in dying. If the court accepts the AG’s position, physicians can respond to their terminally ill patients’ request for aid in dying, governed by best medical practice.
This move by Georgia’s AG provides further definition of aid in dying as a legal practice in states across the country. The principle that end-of-life medical choices are private, between patients and doctor, including the choice of terminally ill adults to request medication to bring about a peaceful death, are supported by 70% of Americans.
(thanks to C&C)