“Suicides up, but other violent deaths have decreased in Alaska”
(Fairbanks Daily News Miner — September 16, 2012)
Challenge to Alaska’s Law Against Assisted Suicide
On December 15, 1998, two people filed suit in Alaska Superior Court in Anchorage challenging Alaska’s ban on assisted suicide. The suit was sponsored by Compassion in Dying (the same organization that spearheaded the failed federal court challenges to assisted suicide in New York and Washington).
In the Washington and New York cases, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there is no federal constitutional right to assisted suicide.The Alaska case, however, was based on claims that Alaska’s ban on assisted suicide violated the rights to privacy, liberty and equal protection guaranteed by the state constitution.
On September 9, 1999, Superior Court Judge Eric Sanders ruled that the Alaska constitution does not guarantee a right to assisted suicide. Assisted suicide supporters appealed the ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court.
On September 21, 2001, the Alaska Supreme Court, citing the dangers of assisted suicide to vulnerable Alaskans, unanimously upheld Alaska’s law prohibiting assisted suicide.
“Assisted Suicide, Liberal Individualism, and Visceral Jurisprudence…” (Alaska Law Review, Vol 20, No. 2, 2003) Eric A. Johnson, Assistant Solicitor General, New York State Department of Law and former Chief Assistant Attorney General in Alaska Department of Law argues that a constitutional right to assisted suicide would have to be grounded on the detrimental assumption that disabilities make life less worthy of protection.