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SECOND COURT REJECTS LAWS BANNING ASSISTED SUICIDE.

Byline: Associated Press

A federal appeals court in Manhattan rejected state laws banning doctor-assisted suicide Tuesday, saying it would be discriminatory to let people disconnect life-support systems while refusing to let others end their lives with medication.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marked the second time in two months that a federal appeals court had ruled in favor of assisted suicide.

The issue appears headed again to the Supreme Court, which already has acted against assisted suicide in two cases from Michigan.

The court said Tuesday that it struck down two New York state laws banning physician-assisted suicide because the laws violated the Constitution by failing to treat individuals equally.

It noted that patients on life-support systems can be disconnected at their request, but others who want to speed death by taking prescribed drugs are stopped.

It refused, however, to declare doctor-assisted suicide a fundamental constitutional right, saying it is not ``deeply rooted in the nation's traditions and history.''

A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled last month that mentally competent, terminally ill adults have a constitutional right to die, striking down Washington state's ban.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear Dr. Jack Kevorkian's appeal of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that said there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide. The high court also turned down a challenge to Michigan's law against assisted suicide.

Justice Antonin Scalia, at a lecture Tuesday in Bridgewater, Va., said the Supreme Court isn't the proper place for the right to die to be decided; it should come, he said, through constitutional amendments or state and federal law.

The 2nd Circuit rejected a 1994 ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa, who said allowing life-sustaining equipment to be removed was permitting nature to take its course.

``The withdrawal of nutrition brings on death by starvation, the withdrawal of hydration brings on death by dehydration and the withdrawal of ventilation brings about respiratory failure,'' the three-judge panel wrote. ``The ending of life by these means is nothing more nor less than assisted suicide.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 3, 1996
Words:355
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