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Alaska Constitutional Challenge Moves to Supreme Court

Spring 2000

Compassion in Dying Federation continues to press a claim under the Alaska State constitution on behalf of a class of terminally ill individuals, represented by two named plaintiffs, Kevin Sampson and Jane Doe.

The lawsuit challenges the Alaska State law that prohibits a mentally competent, terminally ill adult from requesting medication to hasten death in a humane and peaceful manner. A lower court's ruling favoring the state is under appeal before the Alaska Supreme Court.

On April 13, the Court received briefs filed by those opposing our claim. In addition to the state of Alaska, these include Focus on the Family, a Californian religious organization founded by James Dobson; Family Research Council, founded by Gary Bauer; the Alaska Catholic Conference, and an Oregon opposition group called Physicians for Compassionate Care.

Counsel includes James Bopp, an Indiana Right-to-Life lawyer well known for his work keeping the Oregon Death with Dignity Act enjoined for three years with arguments the Ninth Circuit called "Just hypothetical fantasy."

Similarly, these briefs include arguments based on the horrors of Nazi Germany, the pathology of depression and misrepresentations of the Oregon experience. We will be answering these briefs and expect oral argument before the Alaska Supreme Court to occur late this summer.

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