Georgia’s Supreme Court has overturned a law banning advertising for assisted suicide, ruling that it unconstitutionally restricts free speech. The legislature had enacted the law in 1994 in an attempt to keep “right to die” proponents such as Dr. Jack Kevorkian from offering their services in the state.
The February 6 ruling came out of a pending criminal case in which four members of a group called Final Exit Network were charged in 2009 with assisting in the suicide of a 58-year-old cancer patient. The state high court decision means that criminal prosecution in the man’s death will also end. In an interesting aside, according to court documents the victim’s doctor was quoted as saying that the man had made a “remarkable recovery” and was cancer-free when he ended his life.
While the law in question did not expressly ban assisted suicide, it established felony charges for anyone who, in the wording of the statute, “publicly advertises, offers or holds himself out as offering that he or she will intentionally and actively assist another person in the commission of suicide and commits any overt act to further that purpose.”
In making its 7 to 0 decision against the measure, the court noted that the state had shot itself in the foot by how it had fashioned the law.
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