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Constitutional Rights and the Public’s Health

Anthony Petro, et al. v. Matthew J. Platkin


Anthony Petro, et al. v. Matthew J. Platkin (Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, June 10, 2022): A state appellate court upheld the dismissal of a case challenging a New Jersey law allowing terminally ill patients to choose to end their lives with the assistance of medication and their physicians. Plaintiffs—a terminally ill man, a physician, and a pharmacist—claimed the law violates the New Jersey constitutional right to enjoy and defend life, the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and several state and federal statutes. The trial court and appellate court agreed that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the law because participation in medication-assisted dying is voluntary for both patients and doctors, so plaintiffs would not suffer harm if the law remains in effect. The court also found that the state constitutional right to enjoy and defend life does not apply to defending the lives of other people and that plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion was not being infringed upon, again emphasizing the voluntary nature of the actions permitted by the law. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – August 15, 2022 

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