X-Message-Number: 8386
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 09:50:47 -0700
From: David Brandt-Erichsen <>
Subject: Florida update

                         (Thursday July 17/97;12:19 p.m. EDT)

                         FLA. COURT BLOCKS ASSISTED SUICIDE

                         By Bill Bergstrom
                         Associated Press Writer

                         TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A man dying of AIDS
                         may not legally receive a lethal dose of drugs
                         from his doctor, the state Supreme Court ruled

                         The justices overturned a lower court ruling
                         that a privacy provision in Florida's
                         constitution gave Charles Hall, 35, the right
                         to physician-assisted suicide.

                         ``It is clear that the public policy of this
                         state as expressed by the Legislature is
                         opposed to assisted suicide,'' the justices

                         They reversed a lower court ruling in favor of
                         Hall, who lives near the Gulf Coast north of
                         the Tampa Bay area, and Dr. Cecil McIver, who
                         sought to avoid prosecution if he helped Hall
                         take his own life.

                         They had argued that a law against assisted
                         suicide violated the state Constitution's
                         privacy clause.

                         Hall, who has been bedridden at his Beverly
                         Hills home, could not immediately be reached. A
                         message on Hall's answering machine said ``If
                         you're calling about the assisted suicide
                         issue, we have no comment at this time due to
                         Charles' deteriorating health.'' It was not
                         clear whether that was in reference to today's
                         decision, or just a standing message.

                         Hall said after oral arguments before the high
                         court in May he was angry the state had
                         appealed the ruling giving him the right to a
                         physician-assisted suicide.

                         ``Why not just let me die in peace? I just
                         don't understand where the state feels they
                         have a right to do what they're doing to me,''
                         he said after listening to attorneys arguments
                         from a wheelchair.

                         His attorneys did not immediately return calls

                         Florida doesn't have a specific law allowing
                         assisted suicide. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled
                         in June that Americans do not have a federal
                         right to have their doctors help them kill

                         Circuit Judge Joseph Davis Jr. had ruled in
                         West Palm Beach that the privacy provision in
                         the state Constitution gave competent adults
                         who were terminally ill that right.

                         The state high court noted that the U.S.
                         Supreme Court had declared in its ruling that
                         there was a ``logical and recognized
                         distinction between the right to refuse medical
                         treatment and assisted suicide.''

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