Courts Take on What Assisted Suicide Means

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Monday, Mar 8, 2010  |  Updated 7:37 AM EDT
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Two doctors want the courts to look into what suicide means to help determine if they can help sick patients end their own lives.

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On Monday, judges will begin deciding what suicide means or dismiss the case on whether state law applies to doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

Two doctors and end-of-life advocates filed a lawsuit filed to get some clarification on the state's ban on assisted suicide and hope it prevent second-degree manslaughter charges for doctors who prescribe medication to help patients end their own lives, the New Haven Register reports.

Fairfield doctors Gary Blick and Ronald Levine regularly care for the dying, according to court papers and said they said fear of being prosecuted stopped the doctors from giving dying patients medications that would aid a peaceful death. 

Compassionate Choices is also part of the lawsuit, siding with the doctors.

Kathryn Tucker, national legal affairs director for Compassion and Choices, told the Register that Connecticut’s “musty, dusty statute” was written in a way that would not allow a person’s family or friends to help them commit suicide.

“The reality of dying in modern America in 2010 is very different than the reality of dying back when that statute was enacted,” Tucker told the Register. “Modern medicine has now extended the dying process in ways that seem unbearable to patients.”

State officials want the lawsuit to be dismissed, and that is something that will be considered when the hearing begins at 2 p.m. on Monday at Hartford Superior Court.

State law makes it a crime to assist another person in committing suicide, but the doctors deny that's what they're advocating.

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