Earlier today, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an 89-page opinion holding that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights does not protect physician-assisted suicide and that physicians who end a willing patient’s life prematurely can be charged with manslaughter:
In this case, we are faced with the solemn task of determining whether the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights provides a substantive due process right to physician-assisted suicide. The plaintiffs, a doctor who wishes to provide physician-assisted suicide and a patient who has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer, contend that terminally ill patients with six months or less to live have a constitutional right to receive a prescription for lethal medication in order to bring about death at a time and in a manner of their choosing. 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.