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Assisted suicide charge dismissed for woman after father's death

The right to die and assisted suicide remain highly controversial topics in the U.S., and New Jersey is no exception. A bill called the New Jersey Death With Dignity Act could be voted on in the Legislature. But at least for now, helping a terminally ill person end his or her life is a crime in the state.

A woman in another state who was charged with assisting in the death of her 93-year-old father has prevailed in court. The prosecution failed to prove to the judge that there is enough she broke the law to bring the case to trial. The defendant was charged with assisted suicide for handing her father a bottle of morphine four days before he died in February 2013.

In his decision, the judge wrote that there was insufficient evidence that the father intended to commit suicide, or that his daughter gave him the morphine for the purpose of helping to end his life. Prosecutors said she gave him the painkiller after he mentioned a wish to die. But wanting to die is not the same thing as wanting to kill yourself, the judge wrote. He noted that prosecutors could not show that the morphine in the father’s bloodstream was potentially fatal.

Even the fact that the defendant allegedly told police that she handed her father the morphine because he wished to die did not create a reasonable question whether a crime took place, the judge said. He wrote that these statements were prosecutors’ only evidence against the defendant. He called the majority of the case against her “significant hearsay, speculation, guess.”

Source: New Jersey Herald, “Assisted suicide charge dropped against Pa. woman,” Michael Rubinkam, Feb. 11, 2014

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