Lawyer with cancer takes right-to-die battle to court

NASHVILLE — A lawyer, civil-rights activist and former political candidate who is facing a terminal illness has filed a suit challenging Tennessee law that prohibits assisted suicide.

John Jay Hooker contends that the law, which makes it a felony for a doctor or another person to assist in any way in someone’s death, violates the state constitution. He recites part of its first article from memory, focusing on one line: “Power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness.”

“If I’m in a state to die, it’s just a question of what day and what month and my happiness is involved. Do I want to sit there in bed and be the prisoner of that pain?” Hooker said. “Does the government have the right to tell me I can’t check out of this hotel? I say the government can’t tell the people they can’t do something that is in pursuit of their own happiness and that doesn’t involve anyone else.”

He also argues in his lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Davidson County Chancery Court, that a doctor taking away machines that support life and prescribing medications that end it are not different…

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