California assisted-death lawsuit

February 23, 2015

A leukemia patient in California is taking to court a ban on assisted suicide.

The issue has never been able to traverse beyond the dissent from voters and state legislatures, so 53-year-old Christie White, along with her lawyers and doctors will open a new avenue for proponents.

Though advocates will continue their fight for the right-to-die through political avenues, they aim to create as many potential channels as possible. The strategy, put simply, is to divide and conquer.

Kathryn Tucker, one of the attorneys for the case with Disability Rights Legal Center, says “the point of the case is to bring into focus the reality that [exercising the right-to-die] is no kind of suicide.”

White’s emotional appeal for her argument is that she does not want to be forced to leave California (along with her husband, family and friends) for a state that will allow her assisted-suicide. These states include Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico.

The lawsuit and the arguments presented within it are not unprecedented – they are actually the same ones which made such treatments legal in Montana and New Mexico (by barring the prosecution of doctors providing it).

An instrumental argument in these cases include the right for a person to die with dignity rather than to live with pain, suffering, dependence and, in many ways, as a burden to those who are forced to care for the individual.

The issue is a contentious debate around the country and the world. Earlier this month Canada struck down their ban on the practice. Activists in New York have also recently requested a declaration from a state court that clarifies assisted suicide is not illegal.

Like many other great human rights debates, the level of emotion felt by those on both sides of the issue is generally very high. One of the greatest difficulties is found in attempts to empathize with those who will be greatest affected by this type of law. Whether as the patient contemplating the treatment, the doctor administering it or the family and friends who must live with it.

But it’s important that each person who takes a stance of conviction on the matter do take the time to do so, and answer the question: “If I were a terminally-ill patient, would I want to have the choice to die with dignity – or would the availability of such choice itself pressure me into a decision I normally would not want to make?”

John Rosenbaum is an Orange County workers compensation and personal injury attorney. He has served south Orange County with great success for over 30 years. If you need one of the best workers compensation or personal injury attorneys around – give us a call, send us a message or come into our Laguna Hills office for your free no obligation consulation.

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