Tennessee Amici Curiae Against Assisted Suicide
John Jay Hooker vs. the State - Brief to uphold the fundamental values of the State of Tennessee, the history and tradition of this State and Nation, and universal, enduring notions of human dignity and to reaffirm Tennessee citizens' intereste in life, safety, sound public policy and medical integrity.
July 23, 2015
BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF THE DEFENDANTS:
BIOETHICS DEFENSE FUND; CATHOLIC MEDICAL ASSOCIATION,
NASHVILLE GUILD; CHRISTIAN MEDICAL & DENTAL ASSOCIATIONS; CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA;
FAMILY ACTION COUNCIL OF TENNESSEE;
TENNESSEE RIGHT TO LIFE
The Bioethics Defense Fund; Catholic Medical Association, Nashville Guild; Christian Medical & Dental Associations; Concerned Women for America; Family Action Council of Tennessee; and Tennessee Right to Life submit this Brief of Amici Curiae in support of Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Oral Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. INTRODUCTION The founding documents of the United States place great value on human life. The Declaration of Independence, for example, provides that “all men … [have] certain unalienable Rights,” including “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE para. 2. The Tennessee Constitution likewise recognizes that we have “invaluable rights,” TENN. CONST. art. I, § 19; and confirms that one of the core purposes of governments is to secure the people’s “safety,” TENN. CONST. art. I, § I. These rights may “never be violated on any pretense whatsoever.” TENN. CONST. art. XI, § 16. The Tennessee legislature and citizens, including Amici, cherish this fundamental, inherent right. They passed TENN. CODE ANN. § 39-13-216 (1993) to protect it by criminalizing deliberate assistance in someone else’s suicide, apparently for the specific purpose of outlawing physician-assisted suicide.
Yet in this case, what Plaintiffs propose threatens to deprive Tennessee residents of their fundamental rights to life and safety, and their protection against discrimination, coercion, and an early grave. Rather than adhere to the plain language of the Tennessee Constitution and TENN. CODE ANN.§ 39-13-216, Plaintiffs would have this Court invent an entirely new “right”: while ordinary citizens still could not assist someone’s suicide, physicians – the trusted medical professionals who pledge to “do no harm” – could. And to accomplish this, Plaintiffs ask this Court to intrude on the legislature’s powers: powers that the legislature is already in the process of utilizing as it considers whether to legalize and legitimize assisted suicide. In order to uphold the fundamental values of the State of Tennessee, the history and tradition of this State and Nation, and universal, enduring notions of human dignity, this Court should reaffirm Tennessee citizens’ interest in life, safety, sound public policy, and medical integrity by affirming State authority to enforce TENN. CODE ANN. § 39-13- 216. INTEREST OF AMICI Amici are the Bioethics Defense Fund; Catholic Medical Association, Nashville Guild; Christian Medical & Dental Associations; Concerned Women for America; Family Action Council of Tennessee; and Tennessee Right to Life. The Catholic Medical Association, Nashville Guild and Christian Medical & Dental Associations wish to preserve medical integrity and public health and safety in Tennessee on behalf of their member physicians and Tennessee residents. Bioethics Defense Fund, Concerned Women for America, Family Action Council of Tennessee, and Tennessee Right to Life, on behalf of their Tennessee constituents and members, wish to maintain a healthy respect for all human life, and advocate for the preservation of life through natural death. Amici contest any characterization of physician-assisted suicide as “peaceful,” “dignified,” or a means of avoiding further suffering, as well as characterizations of end of life care under a physician-assisted suicide regime and survivors’ (i.e., family members and loved ones’) approval of suicide when it is sanctioned by a physician. They further reject that assisted suicide is a “treatment option,” as alleged in Plaintiffs’ Complaint, r 26.