ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's top court has struck down a state law designed to discourage assisted suicides after a legal battle brought by four members of a suicide group who said it also violated free speech rights.
The Georgia Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Monday concludes the 1994 state law "restricts speech in violation of the free speech clauses" of the U.S. and Georgia constitutions.
Defense attorneys said the law violates First Amendment rights because it bans people from publicly speaking about assisted suicide. Prosecutors said the law only applies to those who follow through on their talk by helping someone die.
The court's decision is a victory to members of the Final Exit Network, who challenged the law after they were charged in February 2009 with helping a 58-year-old cancer-stricken man die.