Will Tennessee Become a Destination for Doctor-Assisted Suicide?
On July 22, Tennessee Right to Life joined with other state-based medical and advocacy organizations to file an Amicus Brief supporting Tennessee's ban on doctor-assisted suicide. The brief was authored and filed in Davidson County Chancery Court by attorneys representing Alliance Defending Freedom and promotes the state's position that protection for human life is a basic purpose of government and that such policy decisions should be left to the General Assembly. "Plaintiffs would have this Court ignore clear constitutional precedent, its own role in Tennessee government, the needs of Tennessee residents, and the integrity of the medical profession, to strike down Tennessee's ban on assisted suicide...the active taking of life through prescription of lethal drugs."
In contrast, lawyers for John Jay Hooker argue that the Tennessee Constitution protects a broad and fundamental right to doctor-assisted suicide and are asking state courts to rule in their favor to strike down state law which prohibits the practice. On July 10, Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy heard oral arguments and has taken the case under advisement. She is expected to issue a ruling in coming weeks which could, in fact, make Tennessee the focus of a national debate on doctor-assisted suicide, euthanasia and the Right to Life. Only three states have legalized prescribed suicide: Oregon, Washington and Vermont.