Update on Aid in Dying Lawsuit

Last year End of Life Choices New York initiated a lawsuit seeking to establish aid in dying in New York.  The nine plaintiffs include EOLCNY, three patients, four doctors and Judy Schwarz, EOLCNY Clinical Director. A ruling was sought to permit aid in dying on state constitutional grounds or by finding that the existing law prohibiting assisting a suicide does not apply to medical aid in dying. The lower court, on a motion by the New York State Attorney General, dismissed our complaint. The Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed that decision. Now, we are at New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.
The New York Court of Appeals asked our attorneys to submit a letter to the court explaining why our constitutional claims are substantial, which would entitle us to have our appeal to the court taken as of right (instead of having to seek the court’s permission to appeal). Click here to see our letter and click here to see an opposing letter submitted by the Attorney General’s office. Our attorneys’ arguments are compelling and persuasive.
Ed Schallert, co-counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton said, “This appeal raises important questions under the New York State Constitution concerning fundamental liberties and equal protection under the law with respect to a dying patient’s autonomy, privacy, bodily integrity, and self-determination to control the choice of medical treatment, how much suffering to endure prior to death and how one will cross the threshold to death.”
Kathryn Tucker, co-counsel and Executive Director of Disability Rights Legal Center said, “We hope New York’s high court will open the courthouse doors to this important case, and, ultimately, find that mentally competent terminally ill New Yorkers have a right protected by New York’s Constitution to choose a peaceful death through aid in dying.”
We are hopeful that the court will decide to hear our appeal.