Friday, February 27, 2009

Recent Arrests Spark Debate Over Assisted Suicide Debate

There have been two recent cases that resulted in arrests for assisted suicide. Neither case involved a physician but involved laypeople.

Arrests in Georgia. The first case involved arrests last week in Georgia. The case was addressed in a February 27, 2009 article in the Los Angeles Times entitled "Georgia Arrests Revive Assisted Suicide Debate." The article addresses recent arrests in Georgia for assisted suicide and the debate over assisted suicide and the right-to-die. The president of an organization known as Final Exit Network was one of the persons arrested.

Oregon and Washington allow physician assisted suicide for people judged to have no more than 6 months to live. In Montana the state is appealing a judge's decision to allow physician assisted suicide. Several other states are in the process of enacting legislation legalizing assistent suicide (New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Mexico). In many states such as Georgia and California, assisting a suicide remains a criminal act punishable up to 5 years in prison.


Arrest in California. On February 27, 2009, a woman in Lodi, California was arraigned in San Juaquin Superior Court and plead not guilty to charges that she assisted in the suicide of her brother who was a well-known blues musician in the Central Valley of California. The case has some facts that are similar to the case in Georgia in that a helium tank was used to assist the suicide and a copy of an instructional book by Derek Murphy, the chairman of Final Exit's advisory board. There is an article in February 28's Los Angeles Times about the case.


Any questions or comments should be directed to: Tracy Green is a principal at Green and Associates in Los Angeles, California.


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