[JURIST] New York's highest state court, the Court of Appeals [judicial website] ruled [opinion PDF] on Thursday that the state constitution does not guarantee a right to physician assisted suicide. The claim was brought by three terminally ill patients against the New York Attorney General. "Physician assisted suicide" was defined as "the right of a mentally competent and terminally ill person to obtain a prescription for a lethal dosage of drugs from a physician, to be taken at some point to cause death." On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that New Yorkers have a constitutional right to physician assisted suicide. The court found that there is no fundamental right to suicide, although there is a right to deny life-sustaining medical treatment. Applying the rational basis standard of review, the court decided that the state had a legitimate interest in criminalizing physician assisted suicide, namely protecting patients from abuse and preventing suicide.
The right to die has been a contentious issue in the US. In 2016 the District of Columbia Council approved [JURIST report] a "Death with Dignity" bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives with a physician's help. The bill was blocked [JURIST report] by the House in February. Also in February Montana introduced [JURIST report] a bill that would allow homicide charges to be brought against doctors engaged in physician-assisted suicide and would run against the current policy that allows life-ending options. In May the Nevada Senate approved [JURIST report] a physician aid-in-dying bill.