On Monday, the highest court in the State of Georgia struck down a law that restricted assisted suicides, siding with a suicide group that said the law was a violation of free speech rights.
The Georgia Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling said the law violates the free speech clauses of the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions. The court’s decision means that four members of the Final Exit Network who were charged in February 2009 of helping a 58-year-old man with cancer die will not have to stand trial, according to The Associated Press.
Georgia lawmakers adopted a law that bans people from publicly advertising suicide, in hopes of preventing assisted suicide in 1994. The law made a felon anyone who “publicly advertises offers or holds himself out as offering that he or she will intentionally and actively assist another person in the commission of suicide and commits any overt act to further that purpose.” Because Georgia State law does not expressly forbid assisted suicide, the court found that preventing advertisement for something not deemed illegal is a violation of free speech.
Voters in Oregon and Washington have legalized doctor-assisted suicide and Montana’s Supreme Court determined that assisted suicide is a medical treatment, but other States imprison people involved in assisted suicide.