On May 1, 2012 Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 1114 into law. The Bill was enacted hurriedly after the Supreme Court of Georgia struck down Georgia’s former statute on assistance in suicide as an unconstitutional infringement of the free speech rights under the First Amendment.
The verdict was given in a case brought by Final Exit Network.
Under the former law, it was perfectly legal for anyone to assist in a suicide so long as the act was kept private. Only if one publicly advertised an offer to assist in a suicide would the assistance in the suicide be a crime.
Under the bill signed into law Tuesday, any assistance in a suicide is a crime. The new law defines “assisting” in a suicide as “the act of physically helping or physically providing the means” for another to commit suicide.
Although the law was held up to the lawmakers as one that would prohibit Final Exit Network from operating in Georgia, the leadership of Final Exit Network said they were pleased with the new definition of “assisting” and would not stop operating in Georgia.
Under its protocols, Final Exit Network volunteer “Exit Guides” do not provide the means for anyone to commit suicide. They provide information, education and emotional support, including a compassionate presence at the bedside during a self-deliverance, but they carefully do not provide “physical help” to the member in his or her death.
(Robert Rivas in ERGO’s lists serve)