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The Falmouth Enterprise: Falmouth Physicians To Appeal Aid-In-Dying Ruling

An excerpt from a Falmouth Enterprise article, “Falmouth Physicians To Appeal Aid-In-Dying Ruling,” published Feb. 6, 2020:


Two Falmouth physicians, Dr. Roger M. Kligler and Dr. Alan Steinbach, are appealing a Massachusetts court ruling on their constitutional challenge to declare physicians who assist terminally ill patients in dying to be immune from prosecution for manslaughter or murder.

On December 31, Judge Mary K. Ames of Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston dismissed five of six counts in the lawsuit, said John Kappos, the doctors’ attorney.

Dr. Kligler, a retired internist who has terminal prostate cancer, and Dr. Steinbach, who treats terminally ill patients, are plaintiffs in the 2016 lawsuit against Attorney General Maura Healey and Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe…

“We are seeking a determination from the appellate court that a physician who administers a prescription [often a fatal dose of sleeping pills] that allows a terminally ill person within six months of death to end their suffering and allows the physician to not be subject to criminal prosecution under laws that cover manslaughter and murder in Massachusetts,” Mr. Kappos said.

Despite there being no law, there is “a looming possibility that an aggressive district attorney will choose to prosecute,” Mr. Kappos said… The aid-in-dying initiative is “about people being able to choose what is right for them and giving them options for relieving suffering at the end of life,” Mr. Kappos said.

“If someone chooses to die of natural causes for religious or other reasons, we’re not going to get in the way of that,” he said. “No one ever proposed that this be forced on anyone. We shouldn’t be telling other people what to do, just as they shouldn’t be telling us. That is fundamental to this whole initiative.”