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Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health

Kliger v. Healey

Overview

Kliger v. Healey (Massachusetts Superior Court, Dec. 31, 2019): A state court held plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that their due process or equal protection rights were violated by Massachusetts’ prohibition of Medical Aid in Dying (MAID). A terminally ill patient and his physician sought a declaration on whether: (1) the practice of MAID constitutes involuntary manslaughter under Massachusetts law; (2) applying the law of involuntary manslaughter to MAID violates the Massachusetts Constitution; and (3) whether physicians may provide information and advice about MAID to terminally ill patients. The court noted that in recent years there has been growing public acceptance of physician-assisted suicide. Given legitimate public interests in prohibiting MAID, however, plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a violation of their due process or equal protection rights. Nonetheless the court concluded providing advice and information about MAID is permitted. It further stated that the legislature, not the court, is best positioned to weigh the difficult moral, societal, and governmental questions involved and to decide under what restrictions MAID may be legally authorized. Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – March 17, 2020.

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