Right_to_Die - The Right to Die On June 26, 1997, the...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–4. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
The Right to Die On June 26, 1997, the United States Supreme Court issued two opinions regarding a patient’s right to die, in particular by means of physician-assisted suicide: Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill . Both cases revolved around the question of whether a state statute prohibiting a person to aid another in the commission of a suicide was unconstitutional, with the Vacco decision virtually mirroring that of Washington . In Washington , the petitioners contested a WA statute, which states that a person “who knowingly causes or aids another person to attempt suicide is guilty of felony of promoting suicide attempt.” 1 Though questioned at to its constitutionality, the Supreme Court held that the WA statute was not violative of the Due Process Clause under the 14 th Amendment. 2 The Supreme Court looked to the history, legal traditions, and practices of the U.S. courts to determine the state 1 Washington v. Glucksberg , 521 U.S. 702, 702 - 736 (1997). 2 Id. at 702. 1
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
of public opinion on physician-assisted suicide. 3 After all, “the primary and most reliable indication of [a national] consensus is. ..the pattern of enacted law.” 4 The Court rationalized that in almost every state – not to mention almost every western democracy – it is established law that assisting another to commit suicide is a crime. 5 Suicide has been met with condemnation for hundreds of years and, assuredly, so has assisting another in the commission of suicide. This is due to a longstanding commitment by the judiciary to protect and preserve all human life. 6 Though public opinion about suicide itself has changed constantly over the years, assisting suicide has always been consistently condemned. 7 Because this condemnation is so entrenched in U.S. jurisprudence, the Constitution (specially, the Due Process Clause) has never been interpreted to provide a person with any inherent right to die. To the contrary, the furthest 3 Id. at 710. 4 Washington v. Glucksberg , 521 U.S. 702, 711 (1997) (citing Stanford v. Kentucky , 492 U.S. 361, 373 (1989)). 5 Id. at 711. 6 Id. 7 Id. at 719. 2
Background image of page 2
the courts will extend a liberty of this nature is to grant people the right to refuse unwanted lifesaving medical treatment. 8 The Supreme Court in Washington not only asserts that the right to assistance in committing suicide is not a fundamental liberty, but it further states that this liberty cannot be granted to patients because the government retains a legitimate interest in imposing an assisted-suicide ban. 9 There are six state interests in particular that govern the assisted- suicide ban: a government’s interest in preserving life, preventing suicide, avoiding the involvement of third parties and use of arbitrary, unfair, and undue influence, protecting family members and loved ones, protecting the integrity of the medical profession, and avoiding future movement toward euthanasia and other abuses. These interests parallel those set out by the SC in the Vacco
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 03/10/2008 for the course PERSP 994 taught by Professor Scott,geoffrey during the Fall '07 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

Page1 / 17

Right_to_Die - The Right to Die On June 26, 1997, the...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 4. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online