NY Highest Court: Assisted Suicide Not a Constitutional Right

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by Rodney Pelletier  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 8, 2017   

"We reject plaintiffs' argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying"

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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - The highest New York court is ruling a person doesn't have a constitutional right to physician assisted suicide.

The state Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in the state, ruled on September 7 that the state constitution doesn't give terminally ill the right to seek drugs from physicians to kill themselves, as three plaintiffs have claimed.

The court ruled the constitution allows terminally-ill to refuse life-prolonging measures but doesn't allow for outright suicide, saying, "We reject plaintiffs' argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying as they define it."

Five states, including Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington and Vermont, have legalized PAS along with the District of Columbia.

New York law currently considers PAS second degree manslaughter.

Paragraph 2280 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, "Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life." It continues, "We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for His honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of."

It goes on to condemn suicide, asserting it "contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life" and that it is "gravely contrary to the just love of self," calling it "contrary to love for the living God."

We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for His honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

Both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the New York State Catholic Conference (NYSCC) condemn PAS as a violation of a person's dignity. There is no mention, however, of eternal salvation as a person's ultimate goal in this life or that a person's life belongs to God, not himself.

The NYSCC was "pleased" with the ruling, commenting, "The decision is a significant victory for those who would be most at risk of abuse and most susceptible to pressure to take their own lives, including the isolated elderly, persons with disabilities and those who are depressed and overcome with hopelessness."

Church Militant reported in May a doctor was claiming insurance companies were attempting to pressure him to recommend lethal medication to clients instead of life-saving treatment to save money.

In the Netherlands, where PAS has been legal since 2002, it has increased dramatically with many people seeing it not as an option but as a right.

According to the Royal Dutch Medical Association, more than 650 babies are euthanized every year because they are assumed to be in pain or have the possibility of "facing a life of suffering."  

Dutch ethicist Dr. Theo Boer initially promoted the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in 2001. More than a decade later in 2014, he revealed, "I used to be a supporter of legislation. But now with 12 years of experience, I take a different view," admitting "we were wrong — terribly wrong, in fact."

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Rodney Pelletier

Rodney Pelletier is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Rodney on Twitter: @RodPelletier