Two different cases raising similar issues about advocating suicide may shape US policy for years to come. In Massachusetts, Michelle Carter was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for urging her friend Conrad Roy not to abandon his plan to kill himself by inhaling carbon monoxide: “Get back in that car!” she texted, and he did. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has already ruled that prosecuting her for involuntary manslaughter was permissible
What does suicide have to do with the first amendment right to free speech? As it turns out, the question comes up in many contexts: Can a state university student be disciplined for sending a text threatening suicide to another student? Can a young woman be criminally prosecuted for repeatedly texting her boyfriend to insist that he fulfill his intention to commit suicide?
When Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, finding a constitutional right to gay marriage, advocates of physician-assisted suicide had almost as much reason to celebrate as gay citizens who had been longing to marry. Physician-assisted suicide, or aid in dying, is the option currently available in five states for competent terminally ill people with less than six months to live