Patient’s Rights Action Fund Statement on Decision in Kligler Case


The Court Made the Right Decision
The following is a statement from Matt Vallière, Executive Director of the Patient’s Rights Action Fund.
In rejecting Kligler v. Healey, in which supporters of assisted suicide were seeking to exempt the practice from the Commonwealth’s case law and common law on manslaughter and circumvent the political process, the Court made the right decision.
“To date, both the elected officials and the people voting directly on the ballot in Massachusetts have said NO to proposed assisted suicide laws. The Kligler case was nothing more than a brazen attempt to skip the political process and ignore decisions by the public and elected officials to reject assisted suicide law proposals.”
“The lower courts have already rejected the central claims of this case. As Justice Mary Ames put it: “Although Plaintiffs have presented several strong arguments for making MAID [Medical Aid in Dying] a legal option for those suffering from terminal illness, there are equally strong arguments for prohibiting MAID or ensuring MAID occurs in an environment in which clear, thoughtful, and mandatory standards are in place to protect terminally ill patients who wish to make an irreversible decision. The Legislature, not the Court, is ideally positioned to weigh these arguments and determine whether and if so, under what restrictions, MAID should be legally authorized [emphasis added].”
From the decision: “Although we recognize the paramount importance and profound significance of all end-of-life decisions, after careful consideration, we conclude that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights does not reach so far as to protect physician-assisted suicide. We conclude as well that the law of manslaughter may prohibit physician-assisted suicide, and does so, without offending constitutional protections.”
The Attorney General’s office pointed out that the practice is difficult to regulate even with statutory standards, which had the Court accepted Kligler’s argument, would have created an environment with little to no regulation, thus creating a circumstance where coercion and pressure on persons with disabilities to end their lives would have been impossible to prevent.”
“Due to disparities in access to health care, patients are experiencing bad deaths in the Commonwealth. But making suicide as a medical treatment is not the role of the Court, nor is it responsible governance by the Legislature.”
The Patients’ Rights Action Fund is a leading national organization dedicated to protecting the rights of patients and individuals with disabilities from the harm of assisted suicide laws. Through supporting coalitions, activists, and patients, PRAF advocates for the right to equal access to end-of life care.
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