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Posted on May 10, 2020 at 9:33 AM

Our second biannual 2020 supplement of The Right to Die includes many new legal developments.

It includes judicial cases, legislation, and news accounts of important legal proceedings that are not officially reported concerning end-of-life decision making. These include:

MAID. A ruling from a Massachusetts court that a physician would not violate the state’s involuntary manslaughter statute either by providing information and advice about medical aid-in-dying or by referring patients to physicians willing to provide it where it is legal.

MAID. A ruling from a New Jersey superior court that dismisses a constitutional challenge to the 2019 Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. Further activity regarding the rights of both individual and institutional health care providers to assert conscience-based objections to medical aid-in-dying.

MAID. An update on the constitutional challenge to the California End of Life Option Act.

SCOPE OF PRACTICE. Legislation in New York, Virginia, and West Virginia that expands scope of practice laws, allowing physician assistants to sign DNR orders and both physician assistants and nurse practitioners to determine capacity for advance directives.

SUPPORTED DECISION MAKING. New legislation in Indiana, Nevada, and North Dakota authorizing supported decision making agreements as a less restrictive alternative to guardianship. Virginia forms a task force to study doing the same.

MEDICAL FUTILITY. “Simon’s Law” legislation in Idaho that constrains clinicians from withholding life-sustaining treatment from a minor without parental notification and consent. 

GUARDIANS. New Hampshire’s first reported precedential opinion about end-of-life decision making, concluding that guardians appointed for incompetent patients in that state have the power to make end-of-life decisions, including decisions to terminate life-sustaining treatment, without prior court approval.

GUARDIANS. Florida legislation that prohibits guardians from consenting to or obtaining a DNR order for a ward without court approval.

ACP. Legislation in New Jersey and West Virginia that mandates public education and professional training on palliative care and advance care planning.

POLST. California legislation that prohibits the consideration of an inmate’s POLST when preparing a petition requesting the appointment of a surrogate decision maker on behalf of an incapacitated, unrepresented inmate. 

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