The ban against assisted suicide and euthanasia shores up the notion of limits in human relationships

by Diane Coleman, Not Dead Yet, 3 May 2016

The New York Appeals Court has upheld a lower court decision that there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide:

Even were a finder of fact to determine that aid-in-dying is “workable,” the issue before us transcends mere practical concerns. As the Supreme Court stated in Glucksberg, a state’s interest in preserving human life “is symbolic and aspirational as well as practical” (521 US at 729), favorably quoting the New York State Task Force, which observed:

“‘While suicide is no longer prohibited or penalized, the ban against assisted suicide and euthanasia shores up the notion of limits in human relationships. It reflects the gravity with which we view the decision to take one’s own life or the life of another, and our reluctance to encourage or promote these decisions.’ New York Task Force 131-132”.

The Task Force based its view on the risks that could be presented to the elderly, poor, socially disadvantaged, and those without access to good medical care; and the role of treatable symptoms such as pain and depression in creating a desire for lethal medications. It also noted that most doctors lack a sufficiently close relationship to their patients to appropriately evaluate a request for help in ending life, and expressed the concern that it could open the door to euthanasia of those incapable of giving consent. 

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