Judge upholds state ban on assisted suicides

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SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego judge tentatively ruled Friday that a state law prohibiting assisted suicides is constitutional, marking the end of a lawsuit filed by three terminally ill cancer patients who want to utilize the option of medical aid to end their suffering.

Superior Court Judge Gregory Pollack said the case was not about the "right to die'' but whether a law making assisted suicides in California illegal was constitutional.

Pollack said appellate courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have made a distinction between "letting a person die and making a person die.''

"You can't do that (make a person die) in California,'' the judge said.

Pollack noted that under the law, doctors can be prosecuted for taking action in an assisted suicide.

"You can't actually make the person die,'' the judge noted.

Pollack told the plaintiffs that they had legitimate concerns and urged them to lobby state legislators to make changes in the law.

Attorney John Kappos said his clients are in grave condition and can't wait for the law to be changed.

Kappos said doctors are nervous about even talking to patients about assisted suicide.

"Their speech is being chilled by this statute,'' Kappos said.

He told the judge that his clients ought to have the right to control their own destiny.

Julie Trinh, representing the Attorney General's Office, said the plaintiffs were trying to carve out a special exemption to the statute.

"No one has the right to assisted suicide in California,'' Trinh told the judge.

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