| BOSTON, March 8
BOSTON, March 8 Two Massachusetts doctors urged
a judge on Wednesday to let them proceed with a lawsuit seeking
an order that the state's murder and manslaughter laws do not
apply to physicians who offer lethal medications to terminally
During arguments before Superior Court Judge Mary Ames in
Boston, a lawyer for the doctors, one of whom is suffering from
cancer, said a cloud of uncertainty was preventing physicians
from providing such medications.
"Medical aid-in-dying is simply not covered by the
Commonwealth's manslaughter and murder laws," lawyer John Kappos
He made the arguments on behalf of Roger Kligler, a retired
doctor diagnosed with stage-four prostate cancer, and Alan
Steinbach, a physician who says he is willing to write
prescriptions for lethal medication but fears prosecution.
Assistant Attorney General Robert Quinan said that while
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey extended her "utmost
sympathy" to Kligler, no grounds existed to grant the ruling he
Quinan argued the court should defer to the state
legislature to decide the issue and ensure safeguards are
enacted to protect vulnerable patients and the integrity of the
"Only a deliberative body can implement the appropriate
safeguards," he said.
Ames made no ruling on whether to dismiss the lawsuit, which
was filed in October, following two hours of arguments. She
called the issues "important" and said the case was headed to a
higher court no matter how she ruled.
"These are probably issues very much on the mind of anyone
with family members facing very serious disease and mortality,”
The lawsuit is being pursued by nonprofit right-to-die
organization Compassion & Choices.
According to the group, Oregon, Washington, Vermont,
Montana, California and Colorado and the District of Columbia
allow medical aid-in-dying, with all but one of the states
taking the action as a result of legislation or ballot
The Massachusetts legislature has considered, but never
enacted, similar legislation. In 2012, voters narrowly defeated
a ballot initiative that would have legalized the practice.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Peter Cooney)