May 20, 2021

Assisted suicide updates at the Capitol

The advocacy and lobbying efforts of the Minnesota Alliance for Ethical Healthcare at the Capitol have been so successful that assisted suicide proponents are now turning to the courts for relief. On May 17, the Final Exit Network (FEN) filed a lawsuit in federal court related to a recent dispute with the Anoka County Sheriff.

The particulars of their case include:  On May 4, 2021, two Exit Guides of FEN, visited the home of an Exit Guide program participant in Anoka County. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the residence within minutes of the moment the Exit Guides had arrived and confiscated their belongings.

The focus of FEN’s case is that the Supreme Court of Minnesota had interpreted § 609.215, subd. 1 to alternatively criminalize “speech alone” in that the word “assists” in the Minnesota law criminalizes not only conduct, but alternatively “speech” that “enables” a “suicide.” Furthermore, the plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the Statute to the extent it makes a crime of First Amendment-protected speech in the absence of any non-speech conduct, i.e., physical assistance or providing the means.

While FEN’s lawsuit has little chance of success, the Alliance continues to monitor legal proceedings and will determine if further action is merited.