X-Message-Number: 6795
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 1996 09:05:18 -0700
From: David Brandt-Erichsen <>
Subject: Supreme Court schedule

The following UPI report states that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to
decide prior to October 7th whether or not to hear the appeals of the two
circuit court cases.  I have no independent verification of this report.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The AMA has filed a friend-of-court brief with
the Supreme Court outlining opposition to "the misguided and unethical
practice" of PAS [physician-assisted suicide] and asking the Court to reject
doctor-assisted suicide.  Separate federal appeals courts have struck down
bans on assisted suicide in New York and Washington state, but officials in
both states have asked the Supreme Court to reverse the rulings.  The
justices are expected to grant or deny review of the appellate rulings prior
to start of new term of Monday, Oct.7, 1996.

"The time has come for the highest court in the land to make a declaration
on the misguided and unethical practice of physician-assisted suicide," said
Dr. Thomas Reardon, vice chair of the AMA.  The AMA brief in the Supreme
Court contends there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted
suicide.  The brief is in response to a March 1996 ruling from the Ninth
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the Washington state law. 

"The AMA believes that if physicians were better educated in the management
of pain and suffering," Reardon said, "and if more patients were aware of
the options available to them through hospice, advanced care planning and
counseling there would be virtually no need to resort to physician-assisted
suicide.  To this end, the AMA is presently developing a comprehensive
educational program for physicans at all levels."

The US Catholic Conference has filed brief in favor of state bans against
PAS, and 14 states have asked Supreme Court to reverse rulings which have
struck down ban on assisted suicide in New York and Washington State.
States filing in favor of bans include California, Arkansas, Colorado,
Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana,
Nebraska, South Carolina, 
Tennessee and Virginia.  

"If the Supreme Court rejects review in the two cases, then states within
the 9th and 2nd U.S. circuits will have a tough time enforcing bans against
assisted suicide.  The 9th U.S. Circuit includes California, Alaska,
Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon as well as Washington state. 	The
2nd U.S. Circuit includes Connecticut and Vermont as well as New York." 

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