The Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that medically assisted death for any patient diagnosed with a terminal illness is officially not going to be protected by the constitution of the state.
This past Monday, the high court for the state issued this ruling as the result of a recent lawsuit first filed by Dr. Roger Kligler with another doctor back in 2016 due to fears of being legally prosecuted for possibly prescribing lethal medication for consenting terminal patients.
“Although we recognize the paramount importance and profound significance of all end-of-life decisions, after careful consideration, we conclude that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights does not reach so far as to protect physician-assisted suicide,” explained Supreme Judicial Court via its decision.
“We conclude as well that the law of manslaughter may prohibit physician-assisted suicide, and does so, without offending constitutional protections,” it stated.
A large number of attempts have also been made within the legislature of the state to fully legalize cases of medically-assisted death in Massachusetts, but as of writing, not a single law has managed to reach a vote.
The office of Maura Healey, the state attorney general which has argued the case for the side of the state, released comments making the argument that the legislature is currently the best place to issue guidance on the subject.
“Our office understands the complexities of end of life care,” Jillian Fennimore, the spokesperson for the attorney general, explained via a statement. “We are pleased that the Court has affirmed our position that the Legislature is the most appropriate place to have a discussion about this important public policy issue. AG Healey has said she supports legislative action to allow medical aid in dying, provided it includes sufficient safeguards for both patients and providers.”
Chris Schandevel, Senior Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom whose group put in a friend-of-the-court brief back at the start of the year standing in support of the protection of the disabled and terminally ill, issued their own statement lauding the ruling from the court standing against medically-assisted death.
“Every human life—regardless of disability or illness—has immeasurable value, and the government must do all it can to protect life, especially for the most vulnerable who cannot advocate for themselves,” exclaimed Schanevel. “Every life is worth living. And we’re pleased the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the commonwealth’s long established legal tradition of protecting the dignity of every human life until natural death.”