New Mexico’s state constitution protects physicians who prescribe medications to aid the death of terminally ill patients seeking a peaceful death, a state judge has ruled.Judge Nan Nash ruled on Monday that a state law criminalizing assisted suicide is unconstitutional when applied to bar physician aid in dying.Nash ruled in the case of Aja Riggs, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2011. Though the cancer is now in remission, Riggs fears the disease could return and wants the option of aid in dying if the disease reaches the terminal stage, according to the opinion (PDF). Another plaintiff is oncologist Katherine Morris, who has refused to provide treatment to aid the death of terminally ill patients because she is uncertain whether she could face prosecution.The Albuquerque Journal and KOB.com have stories. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico has a press release here; it filed the case with Compassion & Choices.Nash said aid in dying is protected by New … [Read more...] about Terminally ill have right to choose physician aid in dying, New Mexico judge rules
Physician assisted death cases
For the first time in Canadian history, a judge has OK’d a plan for physicians to provide an “assisted death” to a patient, in this case a retired psychologist suffering from ALS.The unidentified woman made her case last week in a private, in camera hearing before an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge, reports the Globe and Mail.An opinion by Justice Sheilah Martin made public this week quoted “Ms. S” as saying: “I would like to pass away peacefully and am hoping to have physician-assisted death soon. I do not wish to have continued suffering and to die of this illness by choking. I feel that my time has come to go in peace.”Due to the degenerative neurological disease, the woman cannot speak. But she provided affidavits to the court about her wishes.The Calgary Herald provides a link to the opinion. … [Read more...] about Judge OKs first ‘assisted death,’ with help of physician, in Canada
The California State Legislature on Friday approved a bill that would permit physician-assisted suicide, the New York Times reported.Now the legislation awaits the signature of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated his position but did criticize bringing the bill forward in a special session, in which it would skip scrutiny by Assembly committees. A similar bill failed earlier this year after pressure from the Roman Catholic Church, and it was brought back for the special session. Others bills to legalize assisted suicide have failed before.If the measure is signed into law, California would become the fifth state to permit physicians to prescribe life-ending medications, joining Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.California’s bill tracks Oregon’s 1997 statute, though it would be subject to reapproval in 10 years and, in deference to opponents, physicians would be required to consult with patients in private to help ensure they indeed are willing to end … [Read more...] about California law on assisted suicide awaits governor’s signature
Freed from prison on Friday after serving eight years for helping an ailing man commit suicide, Jack Kevorkian lost no time in stirring up new controversy.The former Pontiac, Michigan, pathologist and right-to-die activist, who by his own count has helped 130 persons commit suicide, promises to comply with the terms of his parole. Among other provisions, the so-called Dr. Death cannot help others commit suicide, even if his only assistance is offering advice, according to news reports. But from the moment Kevorkian, 79, stepped outside a prison and was hugged by CBS correspondent Mike Wallace, controversy followed.The network’s Public Eye column noted today that Wallace still “succeeded in getting the big questions asked” despite the embrace. For instance, Kevorkian told Wallace he had no regrets about helping kill Tom Youk, whose assisted suicide sent him to prison, CBS reports. This one case was prosecuted after Youk’s death was filmed and broadcast by the … [Read more...] about ‘Dr. Death’ Continues Suicide Mission
On Monday, Feb. 22, the Supreme Court began two weeks of oral arguments, and two cases especially will provide an initial glimpse into the court without Justice Antonin Scalia. Both involve issues—due process in death penalty cases and abortion rights—in which Scalia has been outspoken and a predictable vote for almost 30 years. His absence leaves a real chance that each of these cases could be split 4-4. Williams v. Pennsylvania On Feb. 29, the court will hear oral arguments in Williams v. Pennsylvania, which focuses on what is required to have an impartial court, specifically in the context of a death penalty case. Terrance Williams was prosecuted for the 1984 murder of a church deacon in Philadelphia County. Ronald Castille was the district attorney there at the time, and Williams was convicted and sentenced to death.In 1993, after Williams’ conviction and death sentence had been affirmed, Castille successfully ran for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme … [Read more...] about Chemerinsky: What will Scalia’s absence mean for current cases?
In recent years, Kentucky physicians have dealt with the state’s prescription drug abuse problem head-on – by adding substance disorder recovery services to their practices or establishing separate addiction recovery clinics. This trend has undoubtedly played a role in the 2013 decline of Kentucky deaths from overdoses of controlled substances – the first in many years. With the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of substance abuse coverage under Medicaid (declaring it as one of ten essential health benefits Medicaid recipients must receive) and Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid, one would think that an unprecedented number of Kentuckians will now be able to seek help for their addictions. This conclusion, however, is flawed. While the number of patients eligible for recovery services has increased, the incentive that physicians have to provide treatment has simultaneously decreased.The Kentucky Department of Medicaid has established an astoundingly low … [Read more...] about Should Kentucky Physicians Follow California Physicians’ Lead In Challenging Medicare Rates?
A nursing home located in Wicker Park, on the West Side of Chicago, has agreed to a settlement of $875,000 after nurses failed to follow doctors’ orders and a patient died. The elderly man who died was provided food that was not permitted in his diet program and was allowed to eat unsupervised, even though he was at high risk of choking. Antonio Mares died on November 9, 2012 when a nursing assistant was unable to properly perform the Heimlich maneuver while he was choking. His family has stated that this case is an example of what happens when there is no oversight over the standards of training for nursing center employees.Physician’s Orders Reflected Patient’s Special NeedsAntonio Mares was prescribed a diet of mechanical-soft food by his doctor due to medical complications which increased his risk of choking. As he was at an elevated risk, he was also to only be fed while under the supervision of a nurse or nursing assistant. On November 9, 2012, both of … [Read more...] about Failure to Follow Physicians Orders Results in Nursing Home Choking Fatality
From the perspective of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and relatives of those at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, criminal charges are warranted. But under Florida law, a prosecution might be difficult. Two of three ex-state prosecutors contacted by The Associated Press had doubts as to whether Dr. Jack Michel, the home’s owner, or any of his employees will be charged.All agreed that any criminal prosecutions will hinge on whether the nursing home staff made honest mistakes or were “culpably negligent.” Florida defines that as “consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury.”Hollywood police and the state attorney’s office are investigating.The home has said it used coolers, fans, ice and other methods to keep the patients comfortable — and that might be enough to avoid prosecution.“There is a difference … [Read more...] about Ex-Prosecutors Unsure If Nursing Home Deaths Involved Crimes
Add medically assisted suicide to the list of major legislative changes set to take place in California. Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark bill into law in October 2015 that granted terminally-ill individuals the right to die, or request life-ending medication from their physician. Now, after some legislative rigmarole, Assembly Bill No. 15, or the End of Life Option Act, is set to officially take effect on June 9.The law experienced a belated implementation date due to a quirk in how it was passed by the California legislature. The bill was passed in an “extraordinary session” called by Governor Brown, which is “a special legislative session called by the Governor to address only those issues specified in the proclamation.” As a result, the bill could not go into effect until 90 days after the extraordinary session occurred. Thursday marked 90 days.“It’s a historic achievement for California, and for a limited universe of people … [Read more...] about Medically-Assisted Suicide is Coming to California
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada on Friday gave a green signal for assisted suicide to begin now under certain circumstances, while providing the new Liberal Government four months time to pass a law regulating such practice.The Court ruled that doctors in Quebec would be allowed to facilitate the procedure, as the Province of Quebec had already put the law into effect in December. People anywhere else in the country can apply to their Provincial Superior Court for judicial authorization “to those who wish to exercise their rights” to doctor-assisted death, in accordance with the criteria set out in the 2015 ruling.The court observed that granting the further extension is an “extraordinary step,” “since its effect is to maintain an unconstitutional law.” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and three others disagreed with giving an exemption to Quebec and to other individuals.It was noted by the Court that this was the first time that it had … [Read more...] about While Indian SC Constitution Bench starts mulling over the issue, Canada SC gives green signal for Assisted Suicide