Loading
Wisconsin court rules that assisting in suicide is not ‘killing’
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- The Wisconsin District 4 Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that the wife and the daughter of a Wisconsin man who committed suicide can inherit their estate even if they assisted in the act. The ruling was criticized by Wisconsin Right to Life for giving a financial incentive for people to help their relatives kill themselves.

The ruling concerned a Wisconsin law that prevents anyone who "intentionally kills" another from inheriting from that person, the Associated Press reports.

Writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Margaret Vergeront argued "A person who assists another in voluntarily and intentionally taking his or her own life is plainly not depriving the other of life."

"We do not agree that 'killer' is commonly understood to mean the person who provides the means that enable another to kill himself or herself," she continued.

The case involved Linda and Megan Schunk, the wife and daughter of Edward Schunk, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in January 2006 while suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The two women admitted that they drove Mr. Schunk home from the hospital on a one-day pass the day he committed suicide. According to the Associated Press, Mr. Schunk’s six older children he had with different women alleged the two knew he wanted to commit suicide, drove him to a cabin on the property, helped him inside, gave him a loaded shotgun, and left.

Under his will, Mr. Schunk’s wife and teenage daughter were to inherit 80 acres of land, a $100,000 life insurance policy, equipment from his logging company and other money. The total estate, valued at $488,000 in 2006, left little or nothing for Schunk’s older children.

For the purposes of the decision, the court assumed the allegations of Schunk’s older children were true, but ruled in the wife’s and youngest daughter’s favor.

"Providing Edward with a loaded shotgun did not deprive him of his life: he deprived himself of life by shooting himself with the shotgun," Judge Vergeront wrote.

Terry Moore, an Eau Claire lawyer who represents the now-20-year-old Megan Schunk, said the case was a "one-in-a-million situation" and doubted the ruling would have broad impact, the Associated Press reports. Moore asserted that the ruling correctly reflects the fact that assisted suicide is not covered in Wisconsin inheritance law.

Under Wisconsin law, the AP says, anyone who helps another person commit suicide is guilty of a felony and can face up to six years in prison.

Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, criticized the ruling in a Thursday statement, arguing the decision "opens the door for individuals to assist a family member with suicide and then be able to collect an inheritance from the decedent’s estate."

"This decision has ominous implications for Wisconsin citizens by giving a financial motive to those who provide the means for someone to kill themselves."

Lyons said that Wisconsin Right to Life plans to seek judicial or legislative action to close the case’s "loophole."

"For the protection of our citizens, the state should not provide a financial motive to those who participate in a suicide," she said.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Jan
29

Liturgical Calendar

January 29, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20

Gospel
Date
01/28/15
01/26/15
01/25/15

Daily Readings


Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
01/28/15

Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20

Homily
Date
01/28/15
01/26/15
01/25/15