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Brief filed in aid in dying case

Our brief in Myers v. Schneiderman was filed last week in the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, seeking a reversal of a ruling upholding the dismissal of the case. End of Life Choices New York initiated this lawsuit last year seeking to establish the right to aid in dying in New York.

As stated in the brief, the patients seeking the option of aid in dying “… would choose life if that were possible; indeed, they have fought long and hard to cure their illnesses, or slow their advance through surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other measures. Despite such efforts, their inexorable decline into the final ravages of terminal illness, from conditions that are not of their own making, is beyond their control.”

The brief argues that the statute which bans assisted suicide does not apply to aid in dying.  “The Legislature could not have intended the assisted suicide statute to apply to aid in dying in light of the acceptance in both law and medicine of… other end-of-life options,” the brief states. “Writing a prescription empowering a suffering, dying patient with the option of a peaceful death involves a less active role for the physician than is required for other end-of-life options that precipitate death.”

Further, we argue that the choice to end one’s own life is guaranteed by the due process clause of the state constitution, which has historically given wide latitude to questions of self-determination, as well as the equal protection clause.

Additional briefs, one in opposition from the Attorney General, our reply brief in response to the Attorney General’s brief, and amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs supporting or opposing the appeal, will be filed in the coming months. Then the attorneys representing both sides will present oral argument before the Court of Appeals in Albany, probably in the spring.  A decision will likely be rendered in the late spring. If the appeal is successful, the case will be sent back to the trial court for further factual development and then an evidentiary hearing.

Click here to read the entire brief, submitted to the Court of Appeals by our attorneys at Debevoise & Plimpton and Kathryn Tucker of the End of Life Liberty Project.

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