X-Message-Number: 7662
Date: Fri, 07 Feb 1997 06:52:58 -0700
From: David Brandt-Erichsen <>
Subject: Florida man given right to die

(Thurs Feb 6/97)
Judge Lifts Stay in Physician-assisted Suicide Case

OCALA, Fla. (AP) - An AIDS-stricken man battling for the right to die with
the help of his doctor won another fight Thursday when a judge lifted a stay
that had indefinitely blocked his plans for physician-assisted suicide.
Circuit Judge Lucy C. Brown lifted the stay, saying that if she didn't,
Charles Hall would be "deprived of that more dignified and comfortable end
to which he is now legally entitled.

A Palm Beach court last week became the first in the nation to permit a
physician-assisted suicide. The stay automatically took effect when the
state appealed the Jan. 31 order that permitted the Beverly Hills, Fla., man
to ask for a lethal dose of drugs from Dr. Cecil McIver when his death was
imminent. Circuit Judge S. Joseph Davis said Hall had that right based on
privacy and equal protection clauses in the Florida and U.S. Constitution.
[NOTE: that decision granted this right ONLY to this particular individual
and this particular doctor and nobody else!--dbe]

And Brown said she didn't want the lengthy appeals process to take away
Hall's right. "I think it's absolutely wonderful," Hall told The Ocala
Star-Banner for a story to be published Friday. He told The Associated Press
earlier this week that he wasn't ready to use his right to die. "I'm far
from ready to die. I just want to know my rights are my rights and nobody
can decide for me," Hall said.

Hall is battling pneumonia for the third time since he was diagnosed with
AIDS 15 years ago. He testified last month that he has Hepatitis B, a brain
cyst, herpes, arthritis, partial blindness and no feeling in his bladder. He
takes up to 40 pills a days, including morphine, to relieve pain and build
his immune system.

Assistant Attorney General Charles Fahlbusch has called for an emergency
hearing to ask Brown to reinstate the stay. In a written motion Fahlbusch
noted there would be no way to undo Hall's assisted suicide if a higher
court reverses Davis' ruling. He also argued that if Brown does not
reinstate the stay, Palm Beach County would be the only place in the nation
permitting physician-assisted suicide.

As part of his order, Davis issued an injunction preventing the state
attorney in that county from charging McIver with a 128-year-old law on
assisting self-murder. "It is respectfully submitted that this court should
err on the side of keeping alive and of maintaining the largest number of
options possible," he said. Although the stay was lifted, the appeal remains
in effect.

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