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09/07/2017

New York Rejects State Constitutional Right to Aid in Dying

Sara Myers

This morning, the New York Court of Appeals released an 81-page opinion in Myers v. Schneiderman.  


The court summarized its holding: “Plaintiffs ask us to declare a constitutional right to “aid-in-dying” . . . . Although New York has long recognized a competent adult’s right to forgo life-saving medical care, we reject plaintiffs’ argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying as they define it. We also reject plaintiffs’ assertion that the State’s prohibition on assisted suicide is not rationally related to legitimate state interests.”


New York becomes the eighth state appellate court to find that a state’s criminal prohibition of aid in dying is constitutional. Trial courts in Florida, Montana, and New Mexico found aid in dying prohibitions were unconstitutional. But none were affirmed. Previous appellate rulings include:

  • California (1992)
  • Michigan (1994)
  • Florida (1997)
  • Colorado (2000)
  • Alaska (2001)
  • California (2015)
  • New Mexico (2016)

No state appellate court has ever found a constitutional right to aid in dying. The Montana Supreme Court never reached the issue because the court found aid in dying was legal under existing statutes. Two federal appellate courts independently found a federal constitutional right in 1996. But they were reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. Ongoing litigation continues in Massachusetts, Hawaii, and other states.

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD. Bookmark the permalink.

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