Battle Over Right to Die Headed to Nashville Courts

A civil rights activist who pledged to make right-to-die legislation his final fight filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging state law that prohibits assisted suicide. Attorney, businessman and political candidate John Jay Hooker, who is facing his own terminal diagnosis, is undeterred by the Tennessee General Assembly’s choice to send the issue to summer study and is now asking a Davidson County Chancery Court judge to weigh the issue. He says the state law, which makes it a felony for a doctor or another person to assist in someone’s death, violates the state constitution.

Hooker recites part of the first article of the state constitution from memory, focusing on one line: “Power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness.” “If I’m in a state to die, it’s just a question of what day and what month, and my happiness is involved, do I want to sit there in bed and be the prisoner of that pain?” Hooker said. “Does the government have the right to tell me I can’t check out of this hotel? I say the government can’t tell the people they can’t do something that is in pursuit of their own happiness, and that doesn’t involve anyone else.” He also argues there is no difference between a doctor taking away machines that support life and prescribing medications that end it. Three doctors joined with Hooker to bring the case: Hooker’s physician, Dr. Jeffrey Sosman of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center; Dr. W. Barton Campbell of Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Dr. Robert Ballard, who Hooker said is in private practice in Memphis.

Source/more: The Tennessean

David Wingate is an elder law attorney who practices in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. David Wingate’s practice includes wills, trusts, power of attorneys, livening wills, Medicaid and asset protection.

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