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Gay ‘marriage’ decision used to argue for suicide in Tennessee

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, October 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A cancer victim who sued the state of Tennessee for the "right" to have doctors kill him says the U.S. Supreme Court's decision constitutionalizing homosexual "marriage" expands individual rights so as to legalize assisted suicide.

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Jay Hooker, who is terminally ill, wants to be put to death. A Tennessee judge said no. Hooker's lawyer argued that since Obergefell v Hodges was decided, that's unconstitutional. 

Hooker, 84, went to court in Nashville to win the "right" to die by assisted suicide. Three doctors said they were willing to prescribe a deadly dosage of painkillers for him, but they wanted to be sure they wouldn't be put in jail for killing him.

Hooker's attorney, Hal Hardin, sought to prove that since the U.S. Supreme Court constitutionally expanded the definition of a fundamental right to include gay "marriage," the right to privacy is constitutionally expanded as well, giving his client the legal right to end his life.

Referencing the Supreme Court's June 26 decision, Hardin said, "The Constitution is an ever-evolving, growing creature. That's the way our forefathers intended it to be."

Steven Hart of the Tennessee Attorney General's Office reasoned that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that assisted suicide is not a constitutional right. "This is a matter for the General Assembly to consider and debate and not for the court to decide," Hart said. 

Sign a petition urging Canada's Parliament to stop assisted suicide!

On Tuesday, Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled that knowingly giving a patient a fatal dose of drugs would be "criminal conduct." "To provide palliative care to relieve physical pain and discomfort ... is allowed," McCoy ruled. "If the physicians intend to provide lethal drugs to end their patients' lives, they engage in criminal conduct."

As in most states, Tennessee law allows adult patients to refuse care, and all states allow "advance directives" about end-of-life (EOL) decisions when a patient is incapacitated.  In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that the due process clause of the Constitution gives competent adults an interest in refusing unwanted medical treatment.  But Tennessee, like 45 other states, does not legalize suicide or assisted suicide.  Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Vermont have laws allowing what some people call "mercy killing."

While McCoy was deliberating his case, Hooker told The Tennessean he was "hopeful" that the judge would allow him to be killed, because "this is just so morally right."

In the courtroom was Emily Hoskins, an employee of the Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee, which advocates for the disabled. Hoskins told The Tennessean her organization is "concerned people will be coerced into making decisions that aren't their own or were made for the wrong reason."

"It is a sad day for the rule of law," Hooker said in response to McCoy's ruling refusing to allow doctors to kill their patients. "The fact is, that's an error." He said he plans to appeal.

Before suing the state to be killed, Hooker tried to convince the Tennessee General Assembly to pass a law allowing doctors to prescribe fatal drugs when requested. His unrelenting efforts continued last week, when he presented his case to the Davidson County Grand Jury, which "overwhelmingly" agreed. Its report is being sent to the Tennessee legislature.

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