Georgia Supreme Court Overturns Assisted-Suicide Law

Original Article

This is the consequence of legislators writing laws based on headlines. Reacting to Jack Kevorkian’s assisted suicide of the 1990s, the Georgia Legislature passed a law — not banning assisted suicide — but, in essence, banning advertising assisted-suicide services. The statute now declared unconstitutional stated in part (my emphasis):

Any person who publicly advertises, offers, or holds himself or herself out as offering that he or she will intentionally and actively assist another person in the commission of suicide and commits any overt act to further that purpose is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.

The Georgia court noted that the state could have just declared assisted suicide against the criminal law, as most other states have done. Had it done so, I have no doubt the law would have been upheld as constitutional — like laws outlawing the practice have been in Florida, Alaska, California, and unanimously in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Georgia’s legislature had better remedy this fast or Georgia could become known as the Assisted Suicide State — all comers welcome — because as of now, anyone would seem to be able to assist any suicide, in any manner, for any reason in Georgia, and for compensation. That’s the consequence of incompetence in legislating.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.