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New York top court rejects right to doctor-assisted suicide

New York top court rejects right to doctor-assisted suicide
From Reuters - September 7, 2017

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorks highest court on Thursday ruled that doctor-assisted suicide is illegal in the state, rejecting a lawsuit claiming that mentally competent, terminally ill patients have a right to have their doctors prescribe lethal drugs.

In a unanimous, unsigned opinion, the seven judges of the New York Court of Appeals said the state had legitimate reasons for outlawing the practice, including to protect vulnerable patients from pressure to end their lives.

We are very disappointed by the courts decision, said Edwin Schallert, a lawyer for the patients and doctors who brought the lawsuit. It will prevent terminally ill New Yorkers from exercising an important option to achieve a peaceful death.

Schallert said he would likely move for the court to reconsider its decision, which cannot be appealed to any higher court.

The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which defended the law in court, had no immediate comment.

The patients and doctors argued in their 2015 lawsuit against the state that a New York law making it a crime to help another person commit suicide does not apply to doctor-assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill patients. Advocates of the practice prefer to call it aid-in-dying.

They also argued that a ban on doctor-assisted suicide would violate the states constitution by depriving patients of their fundamental right to self-determination.

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