Advocacy Group Files Death With Dignity Suit on Behalf of Falmouth Man

BOSTON – The issue of physician-assisted suicide goes before a Massachusetts judge today after an advocacy group filed a suit on behalf of a terminally ill Falmouth man.

Compassion and Choices argues no law specifically prohibits doctors from providing medical aid in dying in the Bay State. The group is seeking a declaration from the court that doctor-assisted suicide is not illegal in Massachusetts.

The suit comes on behalf of Roger Kligler, a retired physician who has been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer, and Alan Steinbach, a doctor in Woods Hole. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mary K. Ames will hear the case.

Compassion and Choices is also seeking an injunction against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe from prosecuting doctors who provide medications to help patients with dying.

The organization successfully argued a similar suit before the Montana Supreme Court in 2009. Montana is one of 6 states, including Vermont, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, that allow medically-assisted suicide. The District of Columbia has also passed so-called “death with dignity” legislation.

Massachusetts voters narrowly rejected a death with dignity ballot initiative in 2012, 51 percent to 49 percent.

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